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Managing depression/anxiety through psychotherapy without ADs - please help

(30 Posts)
Lottapianos Thu 18-Oct-12 09:20:13

I have been seeing a psychotherapist weekly for over 2 years. I'm trying to come to terms with emotional abuse in my childhood and estrangement from my parents. Therapy is helping me to take some more control over my life and remove myself from the horribly toxic relationship with my parents. In short, it's helping hugely and I dont' want to stop but it is gruelling. The pain is dreadful.

I am currently depressed and very anxious. I have seen GP who prescribed ADs. I haven't taken them. I discussed my reasons for wanting to take them with my therapist - she didn't tell me not to take them but said she thinks it is a pattern I have learned. I wasn't allowed to have feelings or to express my opinions within my family so I have gotten used to shoving all of my feelings into a box and sitting on the lid, and trying to put it away. I'm now feeling things that I had shut away years ago and it is just so painful that I want it to stop. This makes total sense to me. I understand what she is saying. I know why I am depressed and anxious and I feel deep down tha this is something I just have to go through.

But I'm sick of feeling so upset. I had to come home from work yesterday because everything was making me angry. I cried for hours when I got home. Coping is such a struggle.

I don't know what to do. Does anyone have experience of managing strong feelings through psychotherapy/counselling? How did it feel for you? Are you glad you did it? Thank you for reading smile

MrsMuddyPuddles Thu 18-Oct-12 10:05:35

I did, it didn't work as well as I had thought (possibly because I moved before we finished, possibly because I was too chicken to bring up the real issues until I had gotten to know my councellor), and I am now going through the same issues again that I had thought I'd sorted-enough 10 years ago. Only my situation has changed, and as the issues are regarding my bisexuality and I'm now married... plus the thoughts and self-hate are worse and there's whole other issues regarding my mixed feelings about mother hood, and also work stresses to sort out. I know this is not what you wanted to hear, but it is my experience.

"I know why I am depressed and anxious and I feel deep down tha this is something I just have to go through."

Something my GP told me when I first went on ADs in March was that they don't take the feelings away- they don't make you "all better" magically, what they do is ease the burden, and make a person feel better while they're going through whatever it is they're sorting. They were absolutely the right choice for me at this moment in time, but that doesn't mean they are for you, of course! Only you can say whether having that cushion will help.

Last time, I had chamomile tea, Omega 3 fatty acids, and exercise and sunshine at lunchtime as ways of trying to cope. They did help, as did just generally being kind to myself...

Lottapianos Thu 18-Oct-12 11:40:38

Thanks so much for your response MrsMuddyPuddles. I have increased my exercise recently, which usually helps, but this week has just been making me even more exhausted - I've not been getting that perky surge of energy that you get after a good brisk walk. Totally agree about being kind to myself - I'm really sensitive to any sort of expectations (feeling like I 'should' do something because other people want me to) so I'm trying to do exactly what I want at the weekends and in the evenings. I don't have any children so that's relatively manageable! How did the Omega 3s work - have never heard of them as a way of managing anxiety.

I guess my concern about taking ADs is that I already struggle to trust myself and my feelings, and I worry that if I was on meds, everytime I felt something I would worry if it was 'me' or the meds. Which would send my anxiety levels through the roof. I just don't know what to do for the best. A couple of weeks ago, my gut feeling was not to take ADs, but now I'm not so sure.

I'm sorry you're struggling with difficult feelings at the moment sad

Gigondas Thu 18-Oct-12 11:44:26

I have been seeing a therapist for 5 years- yes it has been shit at times and it certainly has led to some unhappy and angry times (I smiled in sympathy about coming home from work as so angry as have felt that).

I don't have any advice apart from fact that sticking with therapy and working through issues there seemed to help diffuse a lot of feelings - I think break through was about 2 years ago where found that was starting to get easier to recognise and process the feelings coming out.

I have also had ad discussion and not taken them.

Lottapianos Thu 18-Oct-12 12:01:10

Thank you Gigondas. I just have this feeling that I am pretending to myself that I am coping better than I am, and that crying all over my DP so often and coming home from work is just not acceptable. It all relates to my general difficulty trusting myself and feeling guilty and self-indulgent for putting myself first. I worry that behind my back, people are folding their arms and tapping their toes and thinking 'when is she just going to get with the program and take those damn pills! She can't go on like this, she's letting everyone down'

I'm trying to be a bit kinder to myself by imagining what I would say to a friend who was in my shoes. I would tell him/her that it is ok and normal to grieve for the relationship you will never have with your parents, and to treat the process as being like a bereavement. If someone had lost a parent, came back to work and had to go home early one day because they were overwhelmed with grief, no-one would think any the less of them at all.

It's easier when it's someone else though! smile I'm trying to stop being so tough on myself but I've internalised my parents' voices and it's hard to stop them coming through.

Gigondas Thu 18-Oct-12 12:21:36

grin at parents voices- I hear them too. Also if you have learned to bottle up or not trust your own feelings (in my case to the point I couldn't even recognise how I felt) then it can seem very self indulgent to come home and cry. But it does pass and I have found that I am much better able to cope for sticking with therapy . That doesn't mean I haven't lost track of times I have wanted to jack it in.

Lottapianos Thu 18-Oct-12 12:34:39

Yes yes to not being able to recognise your own feelings! I have got much better at that though and I know, really know deep down, that it is ok to put myself first. That's not to say I'm not having to fight the guilt sometimes, but it feels more ok than it used to. I am definitely sticking with therapy, it's helping more than I can say - I'm just not sure whether to take ADs as well.

Gigondas Thu 18-Oct-12 12:38:35

Is it depression or moods or anxiety that is getting to you most? I found mindfulness meditation can help a lot to try and break anxious and down spells.

Lottapianos Thu 18-Oct-12 12:41:49

All three! Sometimes I feel incredibly anxious and I worry about every little thing. I have already started worrying about Xmas hmm Sometimes at home I will be laughing one minute, then full of rage the next. Little things DP does can send me potty - I wanted to scream when he was scraping his fork on the plate laste night! I try to hold it in because it's not fair on him, it's not really him I'm angry with. And at times, I feel so sad I just want to crawl into bed and never get out again. I worry that if I start crying I will just never ever stop sad

Salbertina Thu 18-Oct-12 14:55:33

Hi lotta! Gosh, am in such a similar place to you both, its uncanny and sad
I also try mindfulness meditation - even s 2 min "time out" focus pn breathing can help... When i remember.

I take omega 3, 5htp and try to get sun, exercise etc etc. lots of research on benefits of fish oils - "healing without freud or prozac" worth a look". My therapist also refers a lot to the grief cycle and how its positive to move on to anger from depression (which, after all is suppressed anger) - and to and fro between them. Like you, am experiencing enormous ups and downs right now, frightening and teenage- seeming but, I'm starting to see, an integral part of process to heal.

Lottapianos Thu 18-Oct-12 15:15:39

Really sorry you're struggling Salbertina sad I'm going to look further into fish oils - hadn't heard about them being used in this way before. It's weird but I've been craving fish this week - I absolutely love it but haven't had any for a while, I fancy something that tastes really good but is also healthy and light.

Very interesting that depression can be a positive thing! It makes sense though - I was feeling so angry in the last couple of weeks but this week I feel more sad than anything so something has definitely shifted. 'Teenage' - yes! That's exactly what I thought when I was in a state yesterday - 'get a grip you self indulgent moody dramatic woe-is-me teenager!' I struggle terribly with intrusive thoughts involving 'should' - like 'you should be better able to cope with this by now and at your age!' That's my mother's voice angry Oops, there goes the anger again!

Salbertina Fri 19-Oct-12 07:13:54

Ikwym Lotta. Yes to "teenage voice", "critical mother" voice....am trying just to notice and "sit with" those to downplay them while building up my "nurturing parent" voice..thank god for therapy and transactional analysis. Did you ever find that tasty fish? grin

Lottapianos Fri 19-Oct-12 07:25:36

Yes Salbertina. I had mackerel last night and have got salmon in the fridge for tonight smile

NulliusInBlurba Fri 19-Oct-12 07:43:12

Would you perhaps consider St John's Wort as a sort of 'half way' measure to taking tablets to perk up your mood. They don't in any way inhibit or suppress you, but it does take away that terrible feeling of dread that can build up sometimes. I've taken SJW several times through winter because I suffer badly from the lack of light, and I'm taking it at a high dose right now to cope with a bereavement. It would only be effective for mild depression - at the level where you can still function - and can inhibit the effectivity of the pill, so you need to be careful there. If you use SJW in conjunction with a good die (and the fish oils mentioned above), regular exercise and talking therapy, I think it's a much healthier approach than just taking pills to blot everything out. You're right to want to deal with these issues now, and it's healthy to see the extreme emotions as part of a process to be got through. All the best with it!

Salbertina Fri 19-Oct-12 09:23:17

Yes i know lots of people who swear by SJW, even prescribed by GPs in Germany. For some reason, never works for me hence 5htp and fish oils. We all react differently though and likely to be at least as effective ad conventional ADs.

jacktarot Fri 19-Oct-12 15:07:29

Hi Lotta, I have been seeing a psychotherapist for 5 years now, from 2-4 times per week depending on my mental state at the time and what I could manage financially! (the cost is pretty crippling)

I have had many occasions where I've considered stopping and putting the money towards a sunny holiday instead - but I do believe it will be more helpful to me in the long run to stick with the therapy. I often find that it's when I'm processing some particularly difficult stuff that I get the strongest urges to 'run away' ....

Lots of angry feelings here too - toward my DP, therapist (sometimes!) and family.... I can sometimes find it difficult to differentiate the anger which is justified from the misplaced anger. I also get the critical mother voice thing...

I was prescribed ad's 6 months ago but decided not to take them - I feel that I don't want to mask my real emotions as the anger / sadness seems like a necessary process.

Salvertina - would love to hear more about 5htp...how has it worked for you and are there any side affects (sorry Lotta don't want to hijack your thread!).

Lottapianos Fri 19-Oct-12 16:03:48

Nullius, I would consider SJW. I don't take the pill so that's not a problem. I will have a think about it.

horror, I agree about the cost! I only go once a week and that is expensive enough, 2-4 times must be seriously crippling. I feel like going to therapy is the very best thing I have ever done for myself, and I'm very good at spoiling myself with material things! It's so tough but I know it's helping. I can see myself coming out the other side feeling the true sense of deep contentment that I crave, but I wish there was a fast forward button that I could press so I could skip over the shitty parts. It's a bit like watching Strictly Come Dancing! wink

This week, when I have had the 'critical parent' voice in my head, I have been telling it to f--- off. Out loud when possible! It feels pretty good. I see my mother's face (sometimes my dad's) when I say that, so maybe it's a way of processing my anger towards her.

NanaNina Fri 19-Oct-12 17:56:21

Hi Lotta - I have had 2 major episodes of severe depression and on psych ward for 3 months both times. 1st time was when my closest and dearest friend died aged 46 from cancer, 18 years ago now. I made a complete recovery. I took the meds prescribed for 17 years because I was so terrified that the depression would come back. Anyway with the help of a psychologist I came off them very gradually over 10 months. Within 4 months of stopping I was back on the floor.

I went back to the psychologist and she was very anti the medical model and said she would not see me anymore if I took ADs. I saw her twice a week (£90 a week) for 3 months and was getting worse and worse with my head full of suicidal thoughts (had made a plan) and we were talking about things in the past. I was fortunate enough to have loving nurturing parents, but the therapist was psycho-dynamic in orientation and seemed to want to unearth some buried trauma that wasn't there. It got to the stage that I wished there was something there.........it would at least explain why I was feeling so awful.

In desparation I saw the GP and she prescribed meds but a very low dose and I got considerably worse (which often happens at first) and within a week I was back on a psych ward. I didn't make a full recovery this time and have intermittent depression.

I suppose I am saying why not do the 2 things together, the ADs and the therapy which is clearly what you need. I know so well that thing about thinking you are never going to stop crying and wanting to hide away somewhere and the pain to go away. The ADs as I'm sure you know only cope with the symptoms and not the underlying reasons for mental illness, but you are working on that, and maybe the ADs would lift your mood enough to alleviate the symptoms. It may not be the right thing for you, and of course it's your call, but I am so glad the ADs helped me back from suicidal thoughts and the terror of this horrid illness.

Hope I haven't confused you more!

jacktarot Fri 19-Oct-12 19:22:40

Yy to wanting to fast forward past the shitty parts! I'm liking the Strictly analogy! But I guess we need to go through them in order to come out the other side calm, happy and at peace with ourselves (at least that's what I'm telling myself grin )

My biggest issue is, that the more psychotherapy I have, the more I realise that ALL my major relationships have been/are pretty dysfunctional - sometimes this fact seems like too big a hurdle to overcome and I go into a bit of denial (and start thinking about quitting therapy!).

But therapy is (slowly) demonstrating more healthy ways of relating and what's 'normal' in relationships and most days I feel pretty optimistic that I will eventually be able to form
and sustain equal adult relationships smile

Lottapianos Sun 21-Oct-12 11:27:26

Thank you all so very much for your replies. The loneliness is crippling sometimes and it helps more than I can say to know that other people are going through similar and are surviving x

NanaNina Sun 21-Oct-12 15:03:19

I know Lotta I am having a really bad day - crying for so long my head is throbbing and I even hate the fact that it's sunny. I get these fome time to time (started yesterday) but this is a really bad one - no trigger - what in god's can make our brains do such awful things to us. Love to one sufferer from another xxx MN has got me through make a dark hour or two x

Lottapianos Sun 21-Oct-12 18:38:42

I'm so sorry to hear that NanaNina. Those sorts of days are really horrible. I hate feeling like that and I wish it would just lift, but in my more stable moments, I try to remind myself that it's better out that in when it comes to emotions. It's healthy to release feelings like this, even if the process is bloody awful. Did you get the chance to put your head down and just let it out? I'm sure your head is pounding - will you get to have an early night? I agree that MN is a lifeline at a time like this x

NanaNina Mon 22-Oct-12 02:21:11

Well it's the early hours on Monday morning Lotta so I didn't get an early night. Yes I did get my head down and "let it all out" on 2 separate occasions during yesterday, and I didn't start to feel half alive till about 9.00 pm which is why I am up so late. Was going to have a bath and early night but didn't work out like that. Suppose I am thinking if I have a bad day tday (Mon) then by going to bed in the early hours I will sleep longer and there will be less crap to face..........I dunno. Hope you feel better soon x

Lottapianos Mon 22-Oct-12 10:29:36

I'm so sorry NanaNina. How are you feeling today? Apart from exhausted smile

MrsMuddyPuddles Mon 22-Oct-12 10:49:24

Hi Lotta sorry to not get back to you sooner, but you seem to have had a lot of other good advice.

SJW has been proven to be a mild SSRI and scares me- I'd personally rather be under the care of a doctor or herbalist for such strong meds, but to each their own.

I did some extra googling about the Omega-3s, it looks like it's primarily a help for depression/a mild mood stabiliser and brain lubricant. The Chamomile tea helps relax me and calm my anxiety, if that is any use.

NannaNina so sorry to hear that you're suffering from another blip sad

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