When I thought about my course of therapy, I worried about hating everyone in group. I was concerned about my individual therapist leaving due to historic occurrences. But I never really considered the end. As is the nature of NHS treatment and psychotherapy more generally, it wasn’t going to last forever. I knew it would be 18 months yet, I never really grasped how the ending might feel until it happened.
The only word I can use to describe it is ‘strange.’ Nothing else fits. Personally, I don’t think I would have ever feel ready for it to end. My mental health has improved hugely over the past year and a half. Sometimes it felt like nothing was changing and I worried that I would never be able to cope. My fears were wrong. While I’m not completely well, I am managing life… Just about. So why am I scared of therapy ending?
Firstly, I have had twice weekly support in my life for a long period of time. Now it’s gone. Some days or weeks, I would get through them because I knew a session was coming up and it would encourage me to hold on. There’s no buffer like that now. I’m going to have to re-learn getting support from friends. That’s not to say my friends never supported me when I was in therapy but I tended to hold back, saving the really difficult stuff for my therapist.
The unique thing about a therapist is that you can just say anything without worrying about their reaction or thinking about what is going on for them. It’s a luxury to just say whatever you need to someone who fully listens without judgement. When talking to friends, you tend to be aware if they’re stressed about something or if something you say might upset them so there’s a filter there. That filter needs to be there because nobody should have to be your therapist. But, I’m going to miss someone holding me in their mind for a solid hour each week.
Whether you want to or not, you build relationships in therapy. Particularly in group settings. The group is supposed to reflect the outside world so of course it’s not smooth sailing and you might not like everyone. But once a week, I got to sit with other people and feel like I belonged as people nodded and said “I understand that.” There weren’t the platitudes of “it’ll be okay,” just acknowledgements of emotions. I’ll miss that sense of belonging.
We never know for certain what will happen. It’s very unlikely that I’ll return to the self destructive and very unwell person I was. However, it is very possible that I will have ‘blips’ and it’s not going to be smooth sailing. I will always worry that I won’t be able to manage despite proving to myself that I can. You hold onto the memories of suicide attempts rather than those of getting through a bad time. This means there’s more evidence in my head for things going to shit rather than managing well.
I’m a different person to who I was 18 months ago and it’s like I’m adjusting to this version of myself now. It’s going to take time, it is normal to go through a bit of a grieving process when therapy ends. The sadness is still sitting with me. Endings are tricky. Part of my identity was linked into being in therapy so I feel a bit lost.
But the one thing I need to hold onto is that I am incredibly proud of myself for making it through one of the most difficult commitments I’ve ever made. It was difficult and emotional but I am a better person for it.