Life, mental health and stuff: an update on me.

It’s been quite a while since I posted on here about my mental health and such like, so here we go:

I had my final session with my totally wonderful psychotherapist, Tom, a few weeks ago. It was the final session because it was the 12th, which is all that was funded, but actually I think I was probably just about ready to move-on at that point anyway.

Was the therapy useful? Yes, definitely. But it wasn’t an answer to all of my problems. Working with Tom certainly helped me to learn to be more aware of myself, and taught my some ways that I can tackle my anxiety and intrusive thoughts. However it certainly wasn’t a ‘cure’. Therapy, in whatever form – mine was CBT – is not like taking painkillers or antibiotics. It doesn’t make the problems go away. What therapy can do, and what it has done for me, is help to make the difficulties that you have easier to deal with and simpler to live with every day.

On that note, I’m currently waiting (and waiting, and waiting… ) for a referral to a specialist so that I can have a proper assessment of the compulsions / intrusive thoughts with which I’m struggling at the moment. The CBT that I had was a great help with this, but there is still more work to do. Unfortunately for me, the only place that I, or my GP, or the local CCG, or my MP, or anyone else could find that supports people with the specific problems that am experiencing is in London. Which is not exactly convenient, and which has huge waiting times for treatment. This is not helpful. To say the very least.

Cathedral Gardens, Manchester; sunny morning sky, blue, with trees and people walking to work in the foreground.
A photo of a sunny September morning in Cathedral Gardens, Manchester. Cathedral Gardens is one of the nicer bits of the city where I find myself ‘working’ and spending a lot of time at the moment. Manchester is where I had my CBT therapy sessions and also where I get support from the amazing LGBT Foundation. It also happens to be one of my favourite places in the whole world and somewhere I feel very much ‘at home’.

All of which brings me on to the subject of work, benefits and the like. At the moment I’m still claiming ESA, despite having started working – as a trainee – with a media company in Manchester. The chance of me getting a proper job is massively limited unless/until I’m able to sort out my mental health once and for all. I don’t see that having to travel to London for treatment – if I ever get the damned referral – will be exactly helpful on the work front either.

The other source of help and support that I have at the moment is the truly wonderful LGBT Foundation in Manchester. Taking part in their befriending scheme, as well as going to Pride – which was a first for me – and having a go at some of the other things they have to offer (Taekwondo anyone?) has been a great help. More importantly, though, they’re a great bunch of people who are always there when I want to ask a question, or just talk to someone. On that front – and I never thought I’d say this – but the Samaritans are a great place when I just need someone to talk to at 3am as well.

Having said all of that, I do generally feel better in myself at the moment than I have done for ages. Having something to do (Creative Breaks) helps massively, as does knowing that there is light at the end of the tunnel – in the shape of my referral – even if I do have to be very, very patient in waiting to get there.

Am I better? No. But I am content with where I am right now. I’ve become far, far better at being content with who I am. I’ve become better at giving my self space and time to deal with life. But above all, I’ve learned not to beat myself up so much when things don’t go the way I would like. In short, I’m getting there. Slowly, but I’m definitely getting there!

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