Is the fear of seeing a therapist and the fear of getting upset related?
Is it possible to be okay about getting upset, rather than have to distract and avoid it?
Why are we wary of seeing a therapist? What do we think it means we are weak, or crazy if we seek help?
These are the main themes of my new book where I explore these two related issues and how we can learn a different way of managing our emotions so that we do not have to fear getting upset any more. I’ve also put together an appendix full of helpful information about finding a therapist and the different therapies that you can choose from.
The book is published 22nd May 2021 by Hero Press (Legend Times Ltd) and is available in paperback and ebook editions. You can get your copy at any of the stores below or hopefully at your local library too!
There are so many apps out there for self help so I thought I’d make a list of the ones that my clients have mentioned or that have been mentioned by colleagues. I’m also trying out one myself at the moment and hope to add to this list. I have no affiliation with any of these apps by the way. They are purely the ones that I would feel safe recommending to clients or providers that I work with.
Buddhify – useful mindfulness app with realistic short chunks and a wheel with lots of different choices depending on which situation you are in.
Pacifica – a good all round CBT app, useful for helping to catch thoughts and feelings and check in throughout the day.
Silver Cloud – an online CBT program with modules that you can work through that help to give you lots of in-depth info about particular issues.
Headspace – the established favourite of the mindfulness apps.
Sleepio – a great app which discussed the evidence base behind sleep difficulties.
Catch it – developed jointly between the University of Liverpool and University of Manchester this is a great app for checking in with your mood and noting down what was happening at the time.
This article by Neuroscience news discusses the difficult to accept point that perhaps we are not designed to be happy. I think this makes a lot of sense to me and certainly seems to explain why we struggle to be happy.
From a survival point of view it makes more sense for us to be vigilant and on guard most of the time, and have moments where we are able to feel safe with certain people and in certain environments. Maybe the moments of safety, contentment and companionship are ‘happiness’, and all we can ever really have are these moments.
If we stop trying to be happy, stop asking ourselves if something is wrong because we aren’t as happy as we ‘should’ be, and instead take small comfort in the moments of contentment we do have. Perhaps this can take some of the pressure and expectation off of us?
What should I do if I’m struggling, worried, or trapped in behaviours I don’t know how to get out of?
Physical and mental health should be considered equally, and we are, I believe, getting much better at understanding this. But it can be difficult to know when and how to seek help, particularly if the problem doesn’t seem to be an obvious medical condition.
Ideally your GP should be your first port of call as there are some difficulties which show emotional symptoms but can have an underlying medical cause that needs treating (e.g., thyroid and menopausal issues). But it can be hard to know what to say and how to talk about feelings.
It used to be the case that your GP would mainly offer medication, but there is much better access to psychological therapy now. There can be a waiting list unfortunately but if you are offered help from your local NHS service do put yourself on the waiting list. In the meantime, there are lots of self-help resources out there (books, websites and apps), as well as private psychological therapists. Nowadays therapy sessions can be carried out by telephone, or online video as well as face to face so there are options out there if you want to see someone privately. Therapy doesn’t have to mean endless weekly sessions either. You may just need a short course to get you back on track again.
You could start by saying that you don’t feel good, and then say how things used to be for you before you felt like this. Are there any thoughts that you have been having that feel overly negative, or worries that keep going around in your mind and making you feel anxious? Are you having flashes of distressing images – of something that has happened or something you fear might happen? Intrusive thoughts are common, especially when we are worried or anxious so please don’t feel that you will be judged for having them. Or maybe you are feeling that you just don’t have the motivation that you used to have, or you feel a bit lost or caught in patterns that you can’t seem to get out of.
Try using this quick table to jot down how you feel, it can help to see it written down, and it gives you a format to give to a GP or to the therapist that you see.
When we feel bad, our thoughts match what we feel. This isn’t helpful when it makes us think and believe that things will never get better. They will, and they can. I know it is hard but give therapy a try. Do it for you. You do deserve better. You don’t have to travel, although being in a different physical environment can make you see things from a different perspective, which can sometimes be helpful.
The Physical and the Psychological – inextricably linked!
There are so many different types of therapists; counsellors, psychotherapists, psychologists, psychological therapists, addiction therapists, and of course psychiatrists who are not really therapists but medical doctors who specialise in psychiatric (mental health) disorders. It’s confusing but I’d like to guide you through this.
Who should I see?
It’s important that the therapist you see is governed by a professional body so that you can be sure they work to a code of practice and are professionally qualified. These are the main professional bodies and links to how to find therapists who are registered with them:-
This discussion between Ellie Giles, who manages Bill Ryder-Jones, and Ryan Bassil gives a positive example of how to manage mental health in the music industry. Ellie is honest about her own limits and clear with her own self care so that she can be present when needed for her artist. She briefly discusses the mental health difficulties that her artist struggles with, and how she and the label manage this. The key points for me are:
Being kind to yourself, and to others
Look after yourself and put your self care first so that you can be more present for others
Know your limits and don’t be afraid to seek help
Keep clear boundaries – don’t be ‘on-call’ all the time
That’s how we’re going to move forward: be kind to yourself, then be kind to others.