"I would see the other person. A child trapped inside this adult structure. I think it's quite beautiful"
What is psychoanalysis?
Psychoanalysis is a Freudian kind of psychotherapy. You would've seen it probably in TV shows. It's a very classic scene...
You go into a room with a "chaise longue" or long sofa where you lie down, and then you have the analyst (the therapist) sat behind you. You don't actually see them or talk to them throughout the session.
All you do is lie down on this sofa, staring up at the wall. The only rule is to say whatever you're thinking. That's it.
I go into this space five days a week so it's quite intense. I do mine every day at 9:00 AM. Every day I say what's on my mind and the analyst is there to help me process and connect different dots.
"The only rule is to say whatever you're thinking. That's it"
What does it do for you?
Having it every day gives me the certainty that I'm going to keep taking care of myself. It's a space where I am given the opportunity to say what I think freely, without fearing how the other person might react. Even with the people we're closest to, our family and friends, I always feel like there's a chance they might worry about me or try to tell me what to do. Often, I don't even know what I'm going to say when I'm in analysis, so the process is one of becoming self-aware.
It helped me a LOT with anxiety. For me, anxiety would arise whenever I was trying to push away thoughts I was scared of, for whatever reason. Sometimes I was scared of saying the wrong thing, sometimes because I was scared of what I might say...
Having the space where I am free to express myself fully and just hear my own voice and thoughts is incredibly powerful. By taking thoughts out of your head and putting them in reality, it gives me the space to look at them realistically and ask: Do I really feel this or is it a tonne of b/s?
Simplifying psychoanalysis a lot, I would say it's kind of like assisted journaling. You have someone there to help, who has also got the knowledge of all of your previous journals.
Is it easy?
NOPE! I wish I could say it was. But it's not. The thing is, I never expected it to be easy. I like the challenge of diving deep into myself. And I really want to live my life fully. I don't want to be impeded by anything at this stage in my life. I'm only 28! I don't need depression and anxiety getting in the way of my dreams.
Just so you know how scared I was, at the beginning I used to close my eyes throughout the entire session. To be fair, I was seeing the whole thing as a kind of meditation with continuous self-expression. However, one day after a particularly difficult session reflecting on the beautiful tragedy that life can be, I started crying incessantly and decided it was time to look around me. To see where I am and accept it. This is me. This is my journey. And I'll be damned if I don't see it through...literally!
What have you found out about yourself during psychoanalysis?
Honestly, there's so many things I've realized.
Actually, in that session I just mentioned, I was watching myself as a child. In my mind's eye, I was sat on the floor at the age of 5, watching Pocahontas on TV. It was a simple moment. I was so immersed in the story. And then I watched my story unfold. Through the abuse I experienced in my family. Through the insecurity of being a teen. Traveling Africa. Working in a big corporate machine. Starting my own company. Going on the mental health mission...and everything in between...
And I realized that I am still that child. There wasn't an age that I passed when suddenly I became an "adult". I am still the same child, sat in front of the TV watching Pocahontas.
In fact, we are all still those children. We still have the same needs for love and care and support...being an adult doesn't mean we're independent to the point of being impenetrable.
When I got on the train that day, I discovered I had developed a kind of superpower. I realized that if I look at someone, no matter how old they are, I can visualize them as a child. I can see them smiling at me, waving. Still there, no matter how many lines they might have developed around their eyes. And it's beautiful.
You can do it too. Take the next person you see and miniaturize them. You see that they are also vulnerable beings. That we are all still kids.
In the past, I'd get anxious meeting new people. But this technique helps me realise there is no reason to be scared of anyone. They're no different to you, they're just another big kid! It helps me put their behavior into context.
For example, when someone is acting aggressive or irrational I like to think 'what would I say to a child? Something like, where is that coming from? How can I support you?'. It can be a really wonderful source of empathy.
Therapy can be very expensive - but it doesn't have to be. What are your thoughts on the costs of therapy?
I am really lucky that my psychoanalysis is very affordable. Each 50-minute session is only £5, and I do them every weekday. So £25 a week for something that has changed my life is amazing!
A big part of what we're doing with How Mental is bringing together different resources and organizations that offer a level of flexibility when it comes to price and accessibility.
We want everyone to be able to find the right support no matter their income.
If you can afford regular therapy, I would 1000000% recommend it!