When Therapy Is No Longer Needed
Today, I had my last therapy session — barring, of course, a relapse of OCD/mood disorder symptoms in the future. Aside from appointments with my psychiatrist to make sure that my medication is still keeping moods under control and anxiety attacks at bay, I have completed treatment.
It’s something my therapist and I discussed at my last session, so I knew it was coming, but it still feels like a major accomplishment.
When I first entered therapy, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew that the point of treatment was to hopefully, eventually reach a goal and finish up, but it seemed so out of reach then — or even a year ago.
And now, it’s here, and I have done so many things I never expected to do!
- I feel comfortable leaving my apartment, and don’t spend the entire time worrying about fires and burglars. (Also, I can write out those fears, although it does make me uncomfortable.)
- I can eat pork and beef without worrying about contamination. When I do worry about tainted food (like the April listeria outbreak), it’s for a day or two and not weeks at a time. I used mindfulness to move past it rather than trying to force it from my mind.
- I no longer worry about committing acts of violence toward others.
- I still get intrusive thoughts about harming myself, but they don’t cause the same anxiety they once did, and I don’t obsess as much. I have not had suicidal ideation for nearly a year.
- I no longer visit the doctor or veterinarian over imagined symptoms. I and my cats are much happier for it.
- I still worry about rabies, but only here and there, and rarely for more than 24 hours. I used mindfulness here, too.
- I have conquered a ton of minor phobias and compulsions, such as a fear of the numbers 4 and 13, a compulsion to unplug all of my appliances every time I leave my apartment or go to sleep, returning home to check my lock several times, etc.
- I came out to my family and then generally.
- I quit my job and began a career as a freelance writer (and it wasn’t impulsive, but something I built up to over several months).
That’s a lot. More than I realized actually.
It took me nearly two years of therapy, which was weekly at times and included classes as well as one-on-one sessions. It also took coming to terms with the fact that my mental illness would be better treated and controlled with medication. I take an SSRI and lithium, and will likely be on them for the rest of my life — but it’s worth it to me, if my symptoms are under control. And they’re not with exposure therapy and coping techniques like mindfulness alone.
This doesn’t mean I won’t ever need help in the future, but it does mean I am a lot better equipped to deal with my mental illness — including a safety net that encompasses my family, friends, therapist and psychiatrist.
Don’t give up. Sometimes it takes extra time to find out what works for you. It took a lot of hard work, and I will need to pay close attention to my moods and mental state, but for now, I’m good.
Photo by Kiwi Tom
Cathey, K. (2016). When Therapy Is No Longer Needed. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 19, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/overcoming-ocd/2016/05/when-therapy-is-no-longer-needed/