Last therapy session of the year; the next one is on Friday the 13th (January 2012), to which my mum will accompany me. Apparently, my regular therapy is also coming to a close – I’ve had 31 sessions so far and if I recall correctly, that means only 4 more in the normal rhythm before drawing them out. Not sure about the time periods between them, but I do know that session 40 is definitely my last one. I’ll part with a laughing and a crying eye: laughing because my life improved so vastly, crying because I will be sorry to say goodbye to my therapist for good. The whole purpose of our relationship was that it would end again eventually, but I’ve grown fond of him… but, I guess that’s a bridge I’ll cross when I get to it.
We took a look at my uni schedule today, trying to find out what I can eliminate – all contact hours, homework and commuting time added up, I had a 50-hour-week and a BDI-II score of 20, with a tendency for the worse. Friday was crossed off the list completely and I’m supposed to figure out what I can do without until I reach a point where the work load does not push me into a depression anymore.
“We are pulling the emergency brake now,” my therapist said. “And if it gets too much,” he smiled, “just scratch another class off the list and go to the cinema instead.”
Eliminating classes wasn’t the problem, I didn’t need help for that. The huge difference is that if my therapist “allows” me to take it easier, I feel like I’m actually doing something pro-active and taking care of myself, whereas without discussing it in therapy, I’d have suffered from a bad conscience and felt like I was only procrastinating. That’s clearly something I still need to learn during our remaining time together: that I have a right to take care of myself and that I’m allowed to set limits.
A job is only possible in summer, because I’m going to have exams and an “en bloc” course and an excursion (probably followed by another protocol) during the upcoming semester break, and during the second semester my situation will hardly be any different…
Our roleplaying exercises were a little different today: not the usual dialogues acted out, but instead my therapist challenged me to defend my position. After I told him that I preferred learning at home over learning at the library, for example, he said: “Convince me! Why should I believe you are learning more effectively at home?” So I listed my reasons – that I felt more relaxed at home and could concentrate better because I wasn’t constantly aware of the people around me, that I didn’t have to watch my stuff if I walked out of sight of the desk, that I had more freedom on when I wanted to learn…
Later he made me stand up while he remained seated (a position I hate, because it causes me to feel vastly overweight – even though he doesn’t get that impression and it exists in my head only) and voice the effects the depression has on me as if talking to my mother: “I have troubles falling asleep and wake up in the night; the muscles in my arms and legs hurt, my joints too. I have headaches and backaches and stomachaches. My eyes are inflamed and hurt and I can’t always see properly because of that. I can’t concentrate very well either and doing my homework gets really difficult because of that. There are cognitive problems which make me forget words and sometimes I don’t even understand my homework anymore because of this.”
Only when looking back I realize I listed exclusively physical symptoms, but didn’t mention the sadness, crying and despair descending upon me. Had I spoken to my therapist directly instead of him acting as a proxy for my mother, I would probably have mentioned this, but since we hardly ever discuss intimate feelings in my family, I didn’t speak about this in therapy either.
One aspect I forgot about and which my therapist highlighted today was exercise. There is no room in my current schedule for any kind of physical activity. He described a scientific experiment to me, in which hamsters had been exposed to stress over a long time, leading to the hamsters becoming depressed. The source of stress was removed then and the hamsters got divided in three groups: group A had a nice cage, plenty of food and social contacts; group B a nice cage and plenty of food; group C a nice cage, plenty of food and an ergometer. Everyone suspected group A to show the fastest recovery rates, but in fact it was group C which was the most successful within the given time frame…
Exercise is supposed to be light and fun – no pressure to achieve any results, but regular periods of physical movement. I certainly remember how beneficial my Tae Bo classes were, even though I have nowhere near the energy for that now. But I’ll try to reserve a fixed time for swimming or cycling or something like that.