Why do I struggle to truly show how I feel to my therapist?
Opening up to a stranger is hard. Building intimate relationships with therapists is challenging work, so try to be kind to yourself. Sharing that you are struggling to open up could be a safe middle ground.
What can I do if I don’t feel safe to express my feelings?
You need to think about why you don’t feel safe. So many of us really struggle to be vulnerable and to share our feelings. Being vulnerable does feel uncomfortable but that’s not necessarily the same as feeling unsafe. Think about whether it is that you are feeling unsafe or whether it is because you are feeling vulnerable and therefore uncomfortable/finding it difficult to express yourself; they are different things. Then think about who it is you are trying to be vulnerable with. Are these people you feel are worthy of that intimacy with you? Are they people you’ve maybe felt unsafe with in the past?
What I see a lot of clients doing is trying to be vulnerable with people that they feel unsafe with and it makes them withdraw even further. Sometimes just thinking about who we are sharing ourselves with is a really good place to start.
Why does it take so long? I’ve been in therapy for years and still haven’t recovered.
It can take a long time to heal but when my clients are feeling tired and fed up, I remind them of how long they were unwell for. Your investment in yourself will change your life forever.
Is it possible to be fully recovered?
It is absolutely possible to fully recover. Don’t lose hope. You deserve to live a life which isn’t defined by your illness. Recovery is possible.
How do you know if you are fully recovered?
Knowing that you are fully recovered is about sometimes becoming a bit absent-minded, that you haven’t thought about the things that you used to think about all the time, such as realising that you haven’t obsessed about food all day. So it’s more about noticing what you’re not doing rather than what you are, or suddenly looking around you and realising that everything is just a little bit OK. It doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect.
People will always have destructive and negative thoughts but when you are secure in your recovery you don’t necessarily attach meaning to those thoughts or feel like you need to react to them. You might have a fleeting thought that feels a little bit darker than some of your others but you don’t necessarily give it any weight or any time of day. This is particularly true for any thoughts around food or body – you may have them but you don’t really care. They don’t impact your life any more. That’s a good indication of having secured a place in recovery.
How do you cope with being discharged when you don’t feel recovered?
That’s so common when you’ve gone through a weight or symptoms/illness focused treatment. Now is the time for you to become empowered. You can resource yourself and begin to really heal.
Which books do you recommend for recovery?
There are so many and it really depends on where you are with your journey because some of the self help books that I’ve read, I wouldn’t have been able to get my head around in early recovery whereas now, they are like bibles to me and I love them.
One of my favourite books that I’ve read is called “How to Be an Adult in Relationships” by David Richo and I just think it’s brilliant. It really helps you to develop a sense of mindfulness when it comes to your relationships and a deeper mindset for self compassion and being reflective over the patterns in your relationships. I personally found this so helpful.
Other books that I think are just wonderful include basically anything by Brene Brown. She’s able to deliver information to us in the most palatable way that we can all relate to and can all benefit from.
None of us need to be in a place of crisis to access these things, they are just about self development, looking inwards a little bit and recognising that all of us have got work to do on the inside. They would be my top recommendations.
Anybody struggling with codependency should go to books by Melody Beattie who is just amazing when it comes to this topic.
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