Talking Therapies: Pierre’s story
“I hope by sharing my experience, other people will want to try.”
Pierre had been dealing with anxiety and depression for a while. He turned to Talking Therapies (IAPT) for support. We spoke to him to find out about his experience.
How did you come to hear about Talking Therapies?
I heard about it through my GP. I’ve been dealing with anxiety and depression for the past year. I’d been taking medication to help, but as I reached a certain point, my doctor recommended that I do therapy along with the medicine. He referred me to Community Living Well. They contacted me and explained how it would work, then we arranged my first session. It was very straightforward.
How were your sessions were run? What did they involve?
My sessions were arranged over the phone on a weekly basis. It has been amazingly useful. It’s incredible the things that I am discovering about myself through this, and about why I do the things I do, why I think the way I do, why I react the way I do. It’s mind blowing.
There was a diagnostic session, where the therapist assessed how much or how little I needed, and the type of intervention I needed.
I would say she was curious to know my circumstances, where I’m living, who with, what are my worries, and from that, she built up an understanding of what I’m going through. At first, I just expected that I would talk and talk, and then she would tell me a magic solution for everything.
But then she started to give words of encouragement, trying to acknowledge what she’s hearing. She was reassuring me, explaining it will take time. I was so deep down in a negative state of mind, but then I thought ‘I must trust the process’.
It started to feel like I was talking to a friend. The bond developed and I found it fascinating that I kept talking, and then I kept discovering things. When I got the most fundamental information about myself, it was when I was talking.
Were you given exercises or coping tools to practise at home?
Yes. I tend to have high levels of anxiety; I’m not living in the present, so to be present was the first thing. The therapist told me to walk around and pay attention to things that are happening, look at the buildings, look at the sky. Normally I would lock myself up with my headphones and music, then nothing else exists, but my head was like an engine, thinking thousands of things at a time and not being present.
They also taught me some meditation and mindfulness, and also some exercises in regard to self-image. To look at myself in the mirror and tell myself positive things about me. I used to reflect so many negative thoughts onto myself. I would worry about what my friends thought, but even as I’m talking about it now, I’m realising that that was me thinking about myself. The therapy has given me that awareness to recognise moments like that.
Other things included writing journals and physical activity, so to leave the house in the morning for a walk or run, get some fresh air and light.
It is a process, but I think I opened the gate to self-acceptance, to self-understanding, with an attempt to break this cycle. I’m actually amazed. I thought the therapy would be just like talking about what was wrong, but it was deeper than that. It gave a meaning to everything.
How have the sessions helped you?
When I look back now, I was doing things detrimental to my wellbeing. I’m amazed at the discoveries I’ve made – it’s like I’ve woken up.
Despite everything I’ve been through, I wouldn’t change it because the way I feel about myself today, and who I am, I wouldn’t change for anything. I’m more confident than I’ve ever been.
I had a job interview yesterday. In the past, I’ve always felt ‘less than’, but this time, I knew I am not.
I truly have a different view on everything. Therapy has definitely triggered something.
Would you recommend Talking Therapies?
Definitely – even if you don’t think you believe in it, give it a try. Do it with an open mind and willingness to know that things will be better. If you are willing to make the next step and you want to make a change, I would definitely recommend it. I think everyone would benefit, but especially if you are struggling, this will be a life-changing moment for you. It’s zero to 100, it’s to that level. I’m so grateful – so, so grateful.
I would really like to help; I feel like I want to give back now to help someone else.
REFER YOURSELF FOR TALKING THERAPY
Our Talking Therapies (IAPT) team can help if you are struggling with feelings of anxiety and depression, you’re feeling low in mood, or if you are having trouble sleeping. Find out more about the service and refer yourself.
Author: Stewart Gillespie
Posted on: 30th August 2022