How to Make Therapy Work?

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by ZeroEsper, May 14, 2015.

  1. ZeroEsper

    ZeroEsper Well-Known Member

    So lately I've been feeling like I'm at a point in my life where I need to start therapy up again. I keep cycling between depression and anxiety and some weird murky combination of the both of them. As you can imagine, this is very difficult to deal with. My self-esteem is in the toilet, I'm very avoidant of people and situations with many people, and my thoughts rarely seem to be clear. I've been on medication in the past, but the medication had a lot of problems of its own (namely some of the physical side effects, which weren't terrible but definitely weren't great). I'm still taking a small dose of it and I don't particularly want to go up anymore. I really want to try therapy again despite the fact that well, in the past it hasn't necessarily worked for me. I've been in and out of therapy for years and frankly, very little of that had any long-term effect on me. Actually I pretty much never felt like I was getting anywhere. I just kept showing up, saying words, words were said at me, then I left. That's it.

    I think one of the big problems I run into is that I'm not touchy-feely. Yes, I am dealing with negative feelings, but excessive validation really doesn't help. For instance, someone just sitting there and being like 'so you must be very stressed!' whenever I talk about my responsibilities piling up usually just elicits a kind of 'yes, thank you for at least acknowledging this, but lets move on' response in me. I don't necessarily feel like that helps me. It's not validation I'm looking for because most of the time my reactions are totally irrational and I am aware of that. I don't think the things that I'm anxious about make a lot of sense and I'm not invested in trying to prove that they're plausible. In fact, I can deconstruct them on my own and point out how stupid they are. But the problem is that it doesn't stop my brain from going out of control and making me scared for no reason. THAT'S what I want addressed - the disconnect between logic and emotion. Also, the 'lets figure out what you're feeling right now!' exercises are very pointless because I'm extremely self-aware. I can tell you if I'm nervous, stressed, tired, checked out, etc. I'm not confused about that sort of thing.

    Does anyone else have a similar problem? If so, is there a way that you deal with it to make therapy work? Or maybe you've had a different experience and you have some insight? I'm just really at a loss because I want to go, I want to think this will be the magical time where it helps, but I have no evidence to support that thought so I keep not doing it.
  2. Enzel

    Enzel androgynous jrpg protag

    I'm between therapists rn because my last one...just wasn't working and between anxiety and executive dysfunction getting a new one is hard.

    I honestly don't know if it's me or I just get bad therapists, but I've had...4? I think? and some of them helped me in small ways but honestly the best progress I made was with a life coach, because it directly addressed the executive function thing. (now that I finally have a formal ADHD diagnosis, a lot of things make more sense. ._.)

    My last therapist was supposedly doing CBT with me but I got frustrated a lot. Like, what you described is basically me: I'm very aware of what I'm feeling and that my anxieties are irrational but I can't make them stop or DO anything about it. Someone I was seeing tried to explain radical acceptance to me but I couldn't wrap my head around it. The closest I've come to understanding it is that Timothy post on tumblr. (the one about intrusive thoughts, I can elaborate if need be) Validation helps me feel better in the short term, but it doesn't prevent shit from happening.

    I think a lot of my progress was hindered by the fact that i was living with my toxic mom at the time, so basically all I talked about in therapy was how she made me feel like shit, and there wasn't much that could be done about that. Now that I've moved out, I wonder if therapy can actually address the OTHER crap in my life...

    Man. If i can think of any good advice later, I will definitely deliver it, but here is a solidarity fistbump in the meantime. For the medication side effects too, blahhh.
  3. ZeroEsper

    ZeroEsper Well-Known Member

    Thank you so much. It does help to know I'm not the only one because sometimes it really feels like I'm the one person just getting absolutely nothing from this.

    I actually don't know about the Timothy post, but I do struggle badly with intrusive thoughts (which can be attributed to the OCD, which thankfully hasn't been as bad as it often is this semester). Would you mind elaborating?
  4. kmoss

    kmoss whoops

    the Timothy post is great.
    basically, it's about treating untrusive thoughts like that one idiot 6th grader we've all had on field trips who'd yell dumb stuff like "crash the bus!"
    you can't kick timothy off the bus, but you can tell him to shut up and sit down, and you don't have to listen to him, because what does he know? he's like 12.
    also it's kind of funny to be able to go "shut the fuck up timothy". pulls me out of mini spirals of depression pretty decently.
    • Like x 3
  5. ZeroEsper

    ZeroEsper Well-Known Member

    I see! That helps.
    • Like x 1
  6. Aya

    Aya words words words

    Just gonna plug my favorite workbook again: Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life. The whole idea is a lot like the Timothy post, just... very expanded.

    In general, third-generation behavioral therapies like DBT and ACT are more oriented toward "yeah, there's going to be stupid shit that your brain does, let's get shit done anyway" than CBT's "YOU MUST FIGHT YOUR ISSUES TO THE DEATH."

    I don't have a perfect solution to the thing where you are completely aware that your feelings don't match up with the logic of the situation, because that's one of the big things I struggle with right now, but for me I know that trying to get in a shouting match with it just makes it worse because then instead of just being (for example) panicky, I'll be panicky and frustrated and angry instead!

    Talking to your therapist about the problem you're having with therapy is always a good idea. Even if your styles don't match up well in the end, they might be able to refer you to someone in the area who can do what you're looking for.
  7. jacktrash

    jacktrash spherical sockbox

    i used to see the same shrink as luka; she's an awesome lady, very nurturing and funny and sweet. but she's big on touchy feely stuff and validation and unpacking emotions, and that's not what i need. i told her so, and asked if she could rec a shrink who could be more of a troubleshooter than an emotional supporter. she suggested someone to me, i gave that lady a try, and she was an excellent fit.

    i told her up front what i wanted: i have a lot of very good emotional validation at home, from my spouse and close friends and family, and in general my negative feelings about myself are disordered and i recognize them as such. so i don't need someone to tell me i'm a good person. what i need is a brain mechanic, who can follow those disordered feelings to the bit that's not working and go, "well there's your problem right there." i want to work on solutions. practical, everyday ways to improve my mental weather and my quality of life. she responded that yes, this was a thing she could do, and that it was absolutely okay to ask for it. that this was indeed a skill set she had and a valid method of therapy, and hell yes we might as well roll up our sleeves and get started!

    embarrassingly, after all my talk of calmly troubleshooting my problems instead of digging for emotional abcesses to lance, i got a bit choked up at that, because it was just so goddamn encouraging.

    • Like x 5
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