Insightfulness 28 Jul 2016

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Spirituality / Therapy

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Insightfulness

Gaining Insight: struggling with an eating disorder.

To better know and understand our feelings few would disagree that insightfulness is helpful.  But in and of itself insight changes very little. Unconscious, psycho-biologically driven behaviours are not much influenced at all by how much we know about them.

Clients and patients make this clear to me over and over again in their struggles with eating disordered symptoms.

Many of them say the urge to over-eat and then to purge totally overwhelms them and it does this so quickly and routinely as a response to stress,  although it did not start that way, that they come to The Surrey Centre in despair, feeling powerless to resist it despite knowing, i.e., having insight into the fact, that over time succumbing to it over and over again can and does cause awful damage to their bodies. And their minds, already struggling with self-respect, come to feel more and more despair about it. They therefore need to know that I know resisting it is infinitely easier said than done.

At the other end of the spectrum the constant state of being split-off from their emotions and feelings, characteristic of so many people who come with problems of self-starvation, is a much slower, but in many, often more subtle ways, just as overwhelming an experience. If not more so because of how completely it affects their thinking and behaviour so that no amount of insight affects that at all. Their anorexia thrives on starvation and these women, and it is usually women, know, i.e have insight into the fact, that it does. But their insight doesn’t change it at all.

They tell me what makes a difference is feeling they are in a therapeutic relationship. Feeling understood, feeling helped, feeling they can be honest, feeling they can be in a relationship with someone who knows from experience that normal thinking and eating patterns can be recovered.

Blog written by Caroline Cairns Clery, Family Psychotherapist at The Surrey Centre

For more information on Carrie, visit: surreycentreforeatingdisorders.com/theteam

blank-billboard 14 Jul 2016

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

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Indifference

People, and this is particularly characteristic of young people, often say, ‘I don’t care’ or ‘whatever’ as if they had no feelings about something when it is obvious in their tone of voice and in their manner that they do care very much.

Not caring is not really possible for most human beings. Most of us wish we didn’t care from time to time, for example on the death of a loved one, or more trivially, perhaps when the family have made mess yet again, or again, perhaps, when we have forgotten something, but the reality is we do care. We can’t help it. We are emotional creatures and we wouldn’t want not to be.

Mostly. But sometimes some things really do feel unbearable and it is then that we do actually need to ‘switch off’ temporarily in order to cope. Just for a while, while we try to get on with our lives. When my mother died I found myself just carrying on as if I didn’t care, even though I knew/know that of course I did. I would find myself waking up in the night in tears.

We have to ‘keep calm and carry on’ with our lives even though in our feelings it can sometimes feel impossible. So saying ‘I don’t care’ can be a way of coping, rather than evidence of insensitivity and unkindness. As members of humankind, who live in time with a beginning and end, we would not be able to cope if we were always emotionally involved with everything and everyone. But neither would we want not care at all at anything.

Cemeteries remind us of our common humanity. Most of us, thank goodness, only take temporary refuge in not caring and rightly look for counselling or psychotherapy when/if that temporary refuge feels like it is becoming permanent.

Blog written by Caroline Cairns Clery, Family Psychotherapist at The Surrey Centre
For more information on Carrie, visit:
www.surreycentreforcounselling.com/theteam

love-letter 11 Jul 2016

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

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Searching For Love

Love. It’s a four letter word, the meaning of which can often can get lost when our relationships with loved ones are going through difficulties. Yet when I work in psychotherapy with people with relationship problems they often, if not always, find that beneath all the trouble and strife, love is playing a big part in what is happening.

And Love is happening all the time. Billions of us all over the planet looking for or finding or losing love for others all the time. It is everywhere between us as human beings, it even perhaps defines our humanity, and because of that it is easy to overlook, to take for granted and not to notice.

For example, a wife doesn’t notice that her husband’s anger or bombast is actually masking sadness that he is feeling unloved or unlovable. Often he does not even realise it himself. Or again, a husband may not notice that his sadness which gets expressed by way of anger, perhaps by shouting, is actually frightening for his wife, prompting her to feel distressed about being disrespected and unloved. Again, children almost always feel to blame when their parents are arguing or even separating and divorcing. They may be old enough to know that actually they are not to blame at all, but they feel like they are. They feel their love and their needs as children are a burden to their parents.

Why? Because almost always love makes the emotional pain of these things feel more intense. When we love we dare to trust. We dare to be true with those we love. This involves taking the risk that we will be hurt by them or, what can feel worse still, be hurtful to them. Life is dangerous. Love is dangerous. Both are vulnerable. So once found, love needs renewing and expressing by actively being loving every day and never, ever being taken for granted.

 

Blog written by Caroline Cairns Clery, Family Psychotherapist at The Surrey Centre

For more information on Carrie, visit: www.surreycentreforcounselling.com/theteam

autumn_bench 07 Jul 2016

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

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Facing Things

A couple of weeks before she died, when the focus of her life narrowed down to how to use her mouth given the swollen size of the cancer in her once beautiful face, I asked my mother, who was a devout believer in God, how her spirits were. She raised an eyebrow – the one on the other side of her face – and with the impatience of someone who did need such stupid questions at this time in her life, (she was eighty eight and had been expecting to die for a long time), said, “Spirits? What do you mean ‘spirits’? They are absolutely fine!”.  A few minutes later in a flatter voice she said to me she was actually in absolute despair. I recognised both statements were true, but I gently asked, “How do you square those two statements, Mum?” That eyebrow of hers didn’t go up this time, although it could have, and as if talking to a child, (I am 63!), she said, “The two aren’t incompatible you know.”

Her despair wasn’t in relation to losing her life. It was in relation to not losing it and still being alive, having asked the consultant in her hospice six weeks before how long she  had to  live who after the usual caveats about not knowing had said two or three days, a week at  most.

Death and its handmaiden, Loss, are part of life. We live in a world where, on the face of it all our different feelings cannot all be felt at the same time. But some mystics, some children, some of those suffering from major mental illnesses, and some of the dying, perhaps all of us, all know that behind ‘the face of  it’, behind our faces, there are more feelings than stars in the sky.

 

Blog written by Caroline Cairns Clery, Family Psychotherapist at The Surrey Centre

For more information on Carrie, visit: www.surreycentreforcounselling.com/theteam

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

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Living in the Moment

Time. Sometimes some things are so glaringly obvious that we don’t see them! I am talking about time and how it can pass without us noticing it even though we live in it all the… time! Older people like me find it goes faster and faster whereas for small children now is always forever – if they are happy and absorbed doing something nice it is so much fun and they don’t ever want to stop but if something is going wrong, for example falling over and grazing a knee, then they howl like it’s the end of the world.

The bit of time we actually live in is not in the past or the present, it is now. Now! For children now feels like it is forever whereas for older people it is gone in the blink of an eye. There is a child and an old person in all of us.

Psychotherapy can help us get to know them better in the here and now.

As a gran myself I find I am often telling mums, especially in relation to their first born or only children, to think in terms of time, to think developmentally.  The parents of a five year old as they drop him or her off at school will notice how different their child now is from when s/he was younger.

And, of course, almost without our noticing it development through time in ‘the now’ goes on throughout life, always now and always moving on. A sixteen year old is only two years older than she was two years ago, but developmentally and in time she is almost a different person. The same is true throughout life for all us. It’s so obvious that it is easy to forget, but we need to remember however stuck we may feel actually we are changing. All the time.

 

Blog written by Caroline Cairns Clery, Family Psychotherapist at The Surrey Centre

For more information on Carrie, visit: www.surreycentreforcounselling.com/theteam

BY: Caroline Cairns Clery

Therapy

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Mixed Feelings

Ambivalence: Letting go of an eating disorder.

Mixed feelings. Patients and clients at The Surrey Centre often admit that they both do and  do not want to get better. Both/And! They see this as a fault, as a failing, and too often they feel ashamed of it when actually it is a truth of the human condition that we often, if not always, have mixed feelings. So ‘I like having my eating disorder, it gives me something to control’, can exist side by side with, ‘I can’t bear my eating disorder it has taken total control of my whole life’. We are full of contradictions!

So how can we learn to stop judging ourselves negatively for having mixed feelings? People coming here often say they previously found this too befuddling to think about on their own. For example, a woman may have initially started restricting her food intake and perhaps, begun to exercise rather too much, for perfectly good, legitimate reasons such as feeling a dress size too large and wanting to get fit. She often hasn’t noticed why over time she actually began using these activities to help herself cope with, even distract herself from, difficult feelings around relationships, work, depression etc,.

But sooner or later people who come to The Surrey Centre for help often say they found their dietary and fitness solutions to these relationship, work or depressive problems which were helpful at first have themselves now become a problem. Eating too little, using laxatives, even being sick after meals and exercising too much, began to take them over.

They need help to allow themselves to be human! We all do! Often, for people with eating disordered problems, this means having the courage to ask for dietetic help to eat healthily as well as psychotherapeutic help to think about the relationship problems, the work problems and/or the deeply unhappy feelings which triggered their eating disordered symptoms in the first place.

 

Blog written by Caroline Cairns Clery, Family Psychotherapist at The Surrey Centre

For more information on Carrie, visit: surreycentreforeatingdisorders.com/theteam