Get Healthy – Talking To A Psychotherapist

Kia Ora Whanau

So this week is Mental Awareness Week and I thought this would be a good time to address how important it is for you to acknowledge that talking about it can help.

This might be a bit of a long post so stick with me if you can. I will probably go down a few rabbit holes but I figure now is the time to say this stuff.

First off, I want to acknowledge and personally thank the people in my life who helped me get to a point where I started to address some of the issues and behaviours I was dealing with and also helped me change my view about going and seeing a Psychotherapist (PT). You know who you are.

Now I am going to keep referring to my PT as “PT” and that is because this is a form of personal trainer but for the mind.

I supposed I should start at the beginning, I hear it’s a very good place to start! Growing up I had a lot of issues and some of which were family and others were definitely all Alex!

Because of these issues I grew up to be a person who not only did not believe in talking about his problems, I would try to change the subject, or just down-play all the good advice I was getting.

It wasn’t until I had time away from an environment where I was made aware that I actually was not as mentally stable as I had portrayed/ self-deluded myself into thinking.

This time away was about a month and when I came back to the environment I was given an ultimatum to start to take better care of myself, both physically and mentally, or risk digging myself into a hole that I might not be able to get out of.

I decided to start seeing a counsellor… Then heard how much it was going to cost, and that I wouldn’t be seen for about two months. This was not going to work for me as I felt like I needed help sooner rather than later. You see I have a tendency to give up sometimes and talking about my feelings is one of those things I would prioritise … in giving up.

I spoke to my doctor at the time and they advised I should try a Psychiatrist. I did some investigative research using valuable resources … yeah I did a google search on my phone and found a PT. At the time I didn’t realise I had not actually set up a meeting with a Psychiatrist but a PT.

I got a call back telling me that I couldn’t be seen, but the PT had a colleague who might be able to help.

I contacted the PT and set up for my first meeting a week later.

The First Meeting

So I arrive at the office not exactly sure what I was supposed to do…. I didn’t see a long sofa I was supposed to lay on while I get asked about my parents or look at inkblots.

Instead I saw two chairs and a welcoming soul. I sat down and was feeling really nervous, and shameful while I introduced myself. I use the word shameful because that was what I actual had thought.

As I hinted to above, talking about my mental state and health was not something I liked doing. Because of the way I was brought up I was taught (by behaviours, not actions) not to talk about any problems. It was family or personal business and not to be shared. It is for this reason that I had the idea that I was shameful for asking for help, or seeking help from anyone.

In all of my life I have never been more happy to be proven wrong.

My PT spoke to me as a person, no judgement, no shame, just listened and offered solutions.

I started to open up, I started to relax and most importantly I started to let my guard down.

It felt really good to just verbalize the dark clouds swirling and consuming my brain. I had just started a new job and it was a situation where it wasn’t a guaranteed job, I had massive amounts of debt, my home life was … less than ideal, yeah lets put it that way, and finally my health was, quite frankly, non-existent.

I left the office one full hour later (most counsellors will charge you an hour but you only have 45 minutes to discuss) feeling like some of the weight I had been carrying around had shifted … a little.

I set up another time to meet my PT in a fortnight.

Now came the hard part …. actually sticking with it.

The Second Meeting

Two weeks later and I actually kept the appointment and I was so glad I did. I started to talk more about my life and felt more open then two weeks ago when I am sure I came across as a person that did not want to be there. My arms crossed, sitting back, angry expression.

This second week I was open and starting to be more honest about some of the things I had been doing myself. I was not yet at the point of accountability, but hey a journey starts with a single step right???

We went back and forth discussing and listening to each-other. I conceded some points, and my PT made me aware of other behaviors I hadn’t even been aware of.

All in all a good second session. Now you may be asking “Why add The Second Meeting”? well let me put it this way. There is something I have to admit to you, and that was I didn’t know what a PT was, aren’t they all the same??? So I asked What was the difference between a Counselor/ Psychiatrist or in this case a Psychotherapist?

The answer was very enlightening. If you were like me you might have thought they all have the same role. This is ok to have this idea, it is wrong but overall there is a basis for why you would think this way.

I will try to explain as best as I can remember, and hopefully this helps you clear up any potential confusion you might have if you are looking to seek help in the future.

  1. Counselor – This is a medical professional who usually will listen to you and may offer advice to help.
  2. Psychiatrist – Same as above but is usually a doctor so they can practise as well as prescribe medications if required
  3. Psychotherapist – This is a medical professional who will listen like both above but instead of prescribing medications, they will try solve the issues at your core and help you grow and work through them.

After hearing this I immediately thought I had made the right choice … despite my obvious mistake at the start of not knowing what a PT is or does. I didn’t want to be put on to medicine. This is not because I don’t think medications work, more because I have witnessed in my life what these medications can do to a person and I wanted to stay away from that if I could.

So how long did you see the PT for?

I saw my PT for over two years almost every fortnight. It felt good to have a safe space where I could share all my thoughts and feelings and also my fears. My PT helped change my life and enabled me to have the strength to start to change my life for the better. Now while I don’t see my PT anymore I do still keep in touch and I know that they are always there if I ever need them.

So what did you learn?

So I’m going to keep the stuff I learnt about myself pretty private but what I will share is some of the techniques I learnt to deal with my situation.

Mindfulness. I know I have previously talked about this in a previous blog post about mindset, but I can’t stress how much this actually helped me cope day to day (and even today).

For those that don’t know mindfulness is basically being mindful in who you are and of your situation, your surroundings. Sort of like being one with everything … you know like Neo at the end of the first Matrix film.

Good news is you don’t have to get shot in the matrix to be able to have the same mindfulness sense.

Acceptance. So when I say acceptance it is more in relation to accepting who you are.

When you learn to accept the things in your life and your ability to always have a choice of what your actions are then you can start to change the things you accept as what you want to change.

Control and release

Ok so this might sound a bit weird. Control and Release is more about letting go of things I can’t control, this can be people, situations, behaviours and release is more about acknowledging that I can’t control them so I should release the emotion I hold on to.

So why bring this up now?

Honestly, I know that with Covid there is so much extra stress and strain on people as well as medical professionals within the mental health field. I want people who used to be like me to know it is ok to talk to someone. It is ok to seek help.

New Zealand has one of the hardest pills to swallow. We have a huge youth suicide rate. I’m not suggesting this post will change someone’s life. I just want everyone that is feeling stressed to know that you don’t have to do this alone. It is ok to seek help and you have a choice even when it feel like you don’t.

Conclusion

Talking helps. Take it from someone who bottled it all up for 35 years. Make a change in your life for the better. Seek help if you need it, or if you know someone suffering, be there for them.

If you ever need someone to turn to know you can txt or call 1737 in NZ or go to their website herehere.

Be Safe Whanau and feel free to email me if you have any questions doncostas@gmail.com.

Weight Loss Journey … Ready, Mind-set, Go!

Kia Ora Whanau

Alex here from Costas Enterprises and today I’m going to talk about mind-set (and I apologies in advance as it’s a long one).
I am going to continue to post my updates but I also want to focus on what I notice and do. I will also keep my monthly posts going as well where I cover off everything.

Mind-set

I want to continue to be honest with all of you. My mind-set needed to change before I even considered losing weight … or even wanted to.

Also a little disclaimer before we go down this rabbit hole.
This post is going to be a little hard for me to write as its going to mean I have to face some serious truths about the way I was and address them in public. It will also be quite long, but I hope you will stick with me!

The way I was

Ok so in-case you haven’t you yet, you may want to read my previous post about my history.

I have spent years deluding myself. I lied to myself about how I was.
You see, I lied to myself and everyone when they asked if I was OK.

I was not ok.

For those that know me I have had an interesting history. Things have happened in my life that have made me both grow up fast and at the same time also revert into a child-like state.

I hope I can get into a place where I can share more about that in the future and I truly believe raising this issue of mind-set will start me on the right path.

I was lying to myself and telling myself that the way I am is not only OK but, also started to believe it. When people tried to help me, I would almost resent them, thinking “they didn’t know”, because they hadn’t seen all of what I had been through.

A huge reason for this was me not actually telling anyone what was really going on.

Sure some of my friends knew most of what was going on in the background but no-one knew everything. I am usually a pretty open book … or at least that is what I portrayed myself as.

I want to take this opportunity to say sorry to my friends and despite me not opening up, the fact that they were there for me regardless of how I was feeling at the time, and that they accepted me means the world to me.
You are all whanau to me.

I did start to get a bit of depression, but mostly I had no motivation, no drive.
I wasn’t happy with who I was but, I was also too lazy to want to change, and I mean real change.

You see I have previously mentioned my invincible mentality. I thought I would never get sick, never have health problems.
After a while, you start getting more and more “wake up” health calls and when you don’t take notice of these “wake up” calls you start to not feel so invincible.

Don’t get me wrong, I had moments of strength in will-power, but in reality I was struck by my personal kryptonite. Stubbornness.

God was I stubborn. I remember eating massive portions or drinking copious amounts of alcohol just due to my stubbornness. I felt like I had to prove I could be the invincible fat person. Just to prove everyone that thought I had weight issues that I was right and they were wrong.

Alex's Invincible Mentality

If I had changed my stubbornness in my teens or early 20s and used it for good then maybe you wouldn’t be reading this now.

But as it happens, I didn’t change, so … yay??

So what was your mind-set saying that made you not want to change?, I hear you ask.

Well I have had differing shifts in mind-set during the last 32 years of Fat Life.
This part of the post is being brought to you by my mock rap name Fatty Thins –
“It’s all good baby, baby,
It was full fat cream,
I used to eat it on everything
Cream and sugar were my favorite things”

… OK so I’ll never replace the original Notorious BIG but one thing I did try to do was dismiss any and all guilt of what I was putting into my mouth. There were no guilty pleasures, there was only pleasures and boy did I want all of them!

Something else I did was start to push away people that tried to help. This is one of my biggest regrets. I had a lot of people that cared about me and tried to help me, but because of the way I was I chose to push them further and further away because I didn’t like that they didn’t like me for who I was … despite me not seeing until much later on in life that they actually loved me and only wanted the best for me.

Then the worst thing started to happen.

I started to give up. I had resigned myself to an early death most likely by heart attack. My farther passed away after his 11th heart attack. Once I had given up, I didn’t really mingle with anybody, unless it was drinking or eating. I had also thought there is no way I am ever going to find a girlfriend, all the girls I knew never saw me as a potential partner, only ever as the best friend.

I tell you right now, hearing the “You’re a great guy, but let’s be friends” is one of the hardest things to hear.

So what changed?

I started to get help. About three years ago one of my friends had a serious talk with me and helped me realise that I need more than weight help, I needed mental help.

I started seeing a psycho-therapist.

Now this was a big deal for me, you see I grew up in a very old fashioned family. Put simply my family was big on the “We keep our secrets in the family.” The thought of even going and seeing a psycho-therapist was huge. But I am so glad I did.

Let me tell you right now, if you ever feel like you need help, please go and seek it! As a man I know there is this perception that we all have to be blokes and not to talk to anyone.
I am saying this right now. That is a stupid way to think. We all need help and if you every need help go and seek it.

With the psycho-therapist’s help I started to develop mindfulness and also started to do some more research on changing my mind-set.

I won’t lie, it has not been easy. It has taken me three years to start to seriously change my life and my mind-set. I have failed, the difference now is I have started to learn from my mistakes and start to begin again… this time more intelligently.

I have also started to read/ listen to more podcasts/ audio books and also learn more.

The more research I do the more I find those secret pathways that I was stopping myself from seeing.

Some of the mind-set’s I have heard have not come from simple mindfulness, some have come from financial thinking.

Some people are aware of some of the books I will recommend but a lot of them mention something similar to the Be Do Have mentality. My friend actually told me first about it and gave me the below diagram.

If you aren’t aware the basics of Be Do Have is effectively:

  • Be – Pick someone you want to be like, research them and try to Be them, copy their mentality, actions, skills
  • Do – Follow their actions, if you know what you want, plan how to get there and Do the steps you need to do this
  • Have – By Being the person you want to emulate and Doing the actions to be that person you will Have what you want or desire.
Be Do Have Mindset

So what tips can you give me?

Honestly, not that much, I can only tell you what has worked for me.

  1. Put some time in to researching yourself
  2. Practice mindfulness (check the links below for some resources)
  3. Don’t give up, it will get better. It may not feel like it but if you’re at the bottom you’re bound to go up at some point
  4. Believe in what you’re doing. Anything you’re doing!
  5. If you need it, get help.
  6. Don’t let your mind beat you. So many times I’ve felt beaten down by my own thoughts – take a break and think of something else. Try to focus on what you want to become.
  7. BE. DO. HAVE. – Go research this, it could help start you off on the right track
  8. Know that what you are going through is going to take time. This is a journey. Don’t expect change overnight, this is a marathon not a sprint.
  9. If you have negative thoughts, expect negative behaviours.
  10. Start to Love yourself and in time change will naturally happen.

Resources/ Amazon Affiliate Links

Ok so if you have read my other posts you know that I am an Amazon Affiliate which means if you click the links below and buy anything from Amazon I will get a slight commission. Any support is appreciated.

I am going to list some books that I found helpful in changing my mind-set. Some of these are financial books but they also help you further train your mind.

Well you finally made it to the end!

A huge thank you for all the continuing support and I hope this post helped. Here is a photo of my mind-set today!

Alex Mind-Set today ... Happy!

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