I suspect my story is a familiar one, sadly. I say sadly only in retrospect, because right now I’m feeling great and living something approaching the life I’ve always aimed for, but never quite managed to grasp in my previous two decades of adult life. This was mainly due to my poor mental health, lack of coping skills and wholly negative outlook on life. My glass wasn’t half empty… it was drier than the Sahara!
I’d always experienced strong depressive feelings and thoughts, and carried other baggage – low self-esteem and poor sleep patterns – around with me too, so in the mid-00s I made a concerted effort to get ‘better’. This involved the usual confessional trips to the GP and subsequent referrals to whatever local services were deemed most likely to help – a combination of irregular NHS counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and strong anti-depressants. The doctor would then tell me to come back in a few weeks when the drugs will have kicked in and I should be feeling better.
Except I didn’t get better. CBT was comically ineffective and the medication made very little difference to my daily outlook and caused numerous problems relating to side-effects. For example, a few days after starting one treatment course, I was on a first date with a gorgeous young lady… who was no doubt surprised when, after a great evening of successfully presenting myself as ideal boyfriend material, I came within a millisecond of physically assaulting a traffic warden who’d quite rightly given me a ticket. Note: whatever the opposite of a ‘fighter’ is, that’s me. I don’t do violence. So I wasn’t too surprised to never hear from her again and I stopped that particular medication soon after, for obvious reasons.
Counselling services were also offered by the NHS at extremely irregular intervals and they had little benefit for me – although well-meaning, I felt the councillors just wanted to tick a few boxes and send me on my way. I’m lucky to have some great friends and family so finding someone to talk to wasn’t a problem, but finding someone to ‘fix’ me was.
Outside of the NHS, I went down the private route and found more of the same. All they were interested in was putting a sticking plaster over my wound, giving me some pills to make me feel better in the sort term and sending me on my way. Any attempt to delve deeper into the reasons for my mental health issues wasn’t welcomed at all; ‘Sounds like you’re a bit of a lazy tyke?’ I was told during one session at a very famous private mental health facility in Essex. I felt very deflated.
Fast-forward a few months and the desire to get better, to live a more fulfilling existence, was the main driver in my everyday life and this coincided with a conversation with a friend, who had a friend who’d been through something called The Thrive Programme and absolutely raved about it to anyone who’d listen. My research showed this wasn’t some fad or hippy treatment – as a journalist, I’m deeply cynical and disbelieving of anything that isn’t backed up by compelling factual evidence – so I called founder Rob Kelly and set up a meeting.
After an hour on Rob’s sofa chatting about learned helplessness, coping mechanisms, desire for control, managing thought patterns, developing resilience and positive outlooks, I felt that he actually understood the issues and I made more progress in this short time than in all the previous year’s put together.
Six sessions over six weeks later plus plenty of reading and homework, and I feel better than I have done in two decades. I have a new job that I wouldn’t trade for anything, I’m fitter and healthier than ever, my relationships with my family and friends are great and my mental health is following the same best-ever pattern. I feel like I can cope with anything – better than coping, I feel like I can sail through even a negative life experience and come out of the other side smiling and stronger still. This wasn’t the case a few months ago – the exact opposite was true.
The techniques I learnt through doing The Thrive Programme are based on Rob Kelly’s research and observations as a psychotherapist with 25 years’ experience and they form a refreshingly effective mental health tool kit with which to tackle life and prosper. He has a team of highly-trained consultants around the country who are able to offer the exact same service so, if I had a friend who was suffering in the same way I did for years, I wouldn’t hesitate to give The Thrive Programme my strongest personal recommendation. It’s changed my life and it could do the same for anyone, including you.