Holistic Centre for Body, Mind & Spirit

April 2012

Case Study – Martin

All of the case studies you will read here are the experiences of real Anam Cara clients. They have asked for their real names not to be used to protect their privacy but all of them wanted others to know that problems can be overcome, whatever they are.

DEALING WITH ABUSE – AND 45 YEARS OF LOST OPPORTUNITIES

I’ve struggled with depression all my life, coping the best I could. But one day instead of going in to work, I went to the doctor instead. Work offered me counselling but I’d been in and out of therapy since I was young – including an intense period when I was about 20 when I went five days a week for a year. So I’d been there, done that and nothing had changed.

When I’d been off work for nearly six months, my partner said to me, ‘Nothing’s changed. You’ve been off work for six months and nothing’s changed.’ I was on half pay and about to drop to no pay. I’d tried anti-depressants but they just made me worse. So in the end it was desperation that saw me at Sonia’s door.

I went along expecting it to be like all the other counselling and therapy sessions I’d been to – you sit there and try and think of something to say while the therapist sits there hatchet-faced and doesn’t speak until it’s time to go. The problem with this approach is that when you’ve got depression, your perception of the world is distorted so sometimes you want to run things by people to see if your reaction is reasonable. Conventional therapists simply don’t give you that feedback, which can be very unsettling. Sonia is different – she reacts, she asks questions, she guides you and she shows you what she thinks.

However, she did warn me that she could be tough too and after a few sessions she said, ‘Right, enough talking about work, let’s get to the real issues’. She told me later that she had identified my issues the moment I walked through the door but had to allow me to get there myself at my pace. It took 12 months.

It became clear that everything stemmed back to troubles in my childhood. I knew things had happened to me but I’d never put the name ‘abuse’ against it. But that’s what it was. Even when I had accepted this, it was one thing to accept it intellectually but I still struggled to see it as something that actually happened to me. You don’t want to think that you’ve been abused – or that your parents are abusers.

What I’m hoping for is to heal, although Sonia does say I can never heal 100% - the abuse will always have happened. Instead I aim to heal sufficiently. I do have a different perspective on it now and can talk about it dispassionately. I’m comfortable with the relationship I have with my parents – it’s not ideal but it is pragmatic. I’ve also realised that there are parts of me that I no longer want to change – they are part of me. I’ve accepted that I’m a bit off-kilter compared to the majority and it can be a huge strength, bringing new skills and a new viewpoint to a situation.

I still want more healing and I want it to happen faster. I have been seeing Sonia for five years and I can get frustrated. However, I’ve been trying to deal with all of this for 45 years, and looking back on 45 years not only of pain but also of lost opportunities takes some dealing with.