The Difference Between Living and Existing – A Client Journey

A client who recently attended a Stress Control Class has found the course so helpful that he wanted to share a poem about how he was feeling before accessing therapy. He has then provided a summary about his amazing success since engaging with Leeds IAPT.  If you can relate to how he is feeling, please don’t hesitate to call on 0113 8434388 to review whether Leeds IAPT can provide you with support. 

Poem describing how I was before Leeds IAPT

GREEN CAR

I remember the day my mum bought me the little green car.

I was ten years old when I went to the dentist for two teeth removing.

I’d pestered my mum for the little car in Tates’ shop window for months, and she said I could have it, but only if I was brave in the dentist’s chair.

I was going to the dentist, just like any other time, so what could possibly go wrong?

I laid back in the chair, looking at the light, that said the word “Ash” on it – while the dentist put the scary black gas-mask on my face.

I took a deep breath in, and straight away, began to feel myself deflate, like someone was literally letting the life out of my body.

At the age of ten, I didn’t know at that moment, whether I was alive or dead.

I honestly thought I was being tortured, and that moment seemed to last an eternity.

My mind felt that my fingers were uncoupled from my hands, my hands unhooked from my arms, my arms let go of my body, and my torso floated in a flat anxious haze.

I could still see, but I couldn’t see anything, so silently screamed to want to unzip my skin and to flee myself.

With my unhinged mind, my limbs not responding to the tidal wave of adrenaline and the gas in my system – I cried, and screamed and struggled, as my mother ran into the room.

She and the dentist fought to hold me down, and calm me down, until eventually my mind and my body, became one again.

That time, in my mind, I was stood by a lake, and heaved a large boulder into the murky waters.

The huge splash was my mental ground zero, and the emotional ripples have affected me ever since, including the unwanted attentions of another unleashed monster, depression.

At that innocent age, my synapses joined, and my memory meant I would visit the dentists chair forever, in my mind.

It was on that day, that the demon of mental illness was awoken in my head and in my life, and then resided unhappily, ever since.

Since then, the demon screams inside, deafening me to distraction, whenever there is something, someone, or somewhere that it despises.

I wasn’t brave in the dentist’s chair that day, but My mum bought me the car on the way home anyway.

I played with it on my brown rug in my bedroom, but I knew, in my head, that something was different, than it had been before.

Ten years old, alone in my room, I just didn’t understand, and I sat and I cried.

Over eating and drinking, therapy, medication, both self-help and self-harm, all followed on then, and for the rest of my life –

But, I always remember the day, my mum bought me the little green car.

Situation since Engaging with Leeds IAPT:

I’m 42 years old and have suffered, (or as I like to say, “managed” anxiety and depression since I was around ten years old). My first anxiety attack happened at the age of ten when I had an adverse reaction to the gas I was given in the dentist’s chair. Then, I had a five year period in my late twenties, when I got made redundant three times, a relationship ended and we had two family bereavements, both people within my immediate circle of family.

I used to go to the gym after this time, lost a lot of weight, and thought then, that I was handling things well.

However, as time went on, in my early thirties, I found I wasn’t getting over these events, and found myself still very emotional about them, was frequently angry, and very, very tired all the time. I was prescribed anti-depressants, as well as the anti-anxiety medication I was already taking. For several more years, I had long-term temp jobs, a few short-term relationships and barely managed to stave off financial troubles. The final straw came the week before Christmas, when I was starting a new temp-job, and I had a fall. I tripped on some ice, on the way to work, and banged my head, as I took a tumble. I stood up, as a few people came over to check I was okay, and I reassured them I was. Walking to a quiet side street, I stood and sobbed, and sobbed and sobbed. I was 39 years old, with debts, no children, no house or car, and hadn’t had a holiday abroad for over ten years!

I decided then that I needed to make some big changes, as I knew I couldn’t keep on the same way I had been doing.

I began to take some acting classes, to build up my confidence, and to meet new people. Loving the classes so much, I decided to go back university to finish my drama degree, something I had thought about for many years, but had always put off. I decided to find a nice town to live in, and to move away and live away from Yorkshire, for the first time ever in my life. To do my degree, I needed to make a fresh start completely, so applied to universities in towns like Norwich, Bath, Canterbury and so on.

As I write this today, I have been to one audition, even though I don’t really travel easily, and have been offered two drama degree courses to study on (an one course offered me a place without having to audition!) – at Bath Spa University, and at Canterbury Christchurch. I have now applied for funding, work and accommodation, and am in the process of preparing to move, later in the year, from one side of the country to the other.  On the one hand, I feel scared to death, but on the other, I feel more alive than I have done in years.

 That’s the difference between living and existing, I think, and that you are never too old to do what you are supposed to do.  

 

green-car-hi

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *