Therapy -Conkers – Thoughts on thinking

Therapy -Conkers – Thoughts on thinking

I’ve been in therapy for two and a half years now and it will finish in June and I know I’ve been really lucky to have such an amazing therapist ( no I’ve not idealised her … much)
The type of therapy I’m having is Transference Focused Psychotherapy and if you’re interested more in it you can read about it below

My main comment on this therapy is that it’s changed so much my way of thinking about me and my life. I am more content as a person I’m not going to be happy all the time, I feel sad, I feel envy, I feel angry, I feel emotions oh the joy, I was cut off from them before. I can now feel the wonder of my emotions in their full blown glory and sometimes it hurts and feels overwhelming but I’d rather feel.
I can also pause (most times) before reacting my days of self harm and overdosing are mostly behind me, I am human I sometimes stumble .
I see the good in things I missed before, like the movement of the leaves on the trees and in people I see their good and their bad and all of their inbetween.
I’ve done a lot of thinking in therapy lots about my childhood and my mum with schizophrenia and how that affects me now, particularly my deep deep fear of being left, it paralyses me still today, its my Achilles heal. I hate the clock in therapy I see the session ending I hear it’s tick tock and I want to smash it as it counts down the time of each session, oh damn those endings. I even went through a phase of ending the sessions before she could until I realised what I was doing and then I laughed at myself ..’oh Sue those endings’ Needless to say I’m still working on it or maybe I will accept its part of me.
My relationship with my therapist is also key after all it’s transference focused psychotherapy .. I usually spend my time looking at her shoes or the floor or the bin or out of the window or at my hands constantly messing fidgeting and sometimes I look into her eyes …more often these days. It’s taken time for me to trust.

Which brings me to the conker.


I often dissociate in therapy I either can’t hear what’s been said or I just sit slumped my eyes half closed and I can’t open them no matter how I try and once they shut completely and I was dragged back to my childhood frightened alone I clung onto the chair whilst she talked and I came round and slowly my eyes opened. Calm .

So back to the conker I was using it to ground with, to keep me in the here and now not dissociating, I walk before therapy and found it in the park and each session I use different objects my bracelet with beads my fingers.
She said ‘so what is it with the conker?’ I replied defensively feeling criticised and ashamed that I sit messing with a conker, I told her I always fidget each week it helps me. I changed the subject. Sometimes I hate feeling different I hate my mental health I don’t want to be ‘Mental’
I went away though thinking why is she asking me about the conker? Does she get sick of me messing? Should I try to stop fidgeting in therapy? If I keep messing will she have a go at me again? Why did she have to say that about the conker ? My emotions started screaming I was judging her myself and I ruminated. I got angry, I felt ashamed.
I then before next session wondered whether to take a conker in, what would she think? Then what if I didn’t take one in would she wonder why I hadn’t? Or maybe I would take two in she can analyse that!!
At my next session I looked at her took a deep breath and said ‘why did you ask me about the conker ?’ In a somewhat accusatory tone.
She replied ‘ I was curious about the conker and what it meant to you’ I sighed I had failed to mentalise correctly I thought she was judging me but she was not, I’d failed to see her intention which was kind and curious. I’d wasted my energy and time on a thing that was not.
We then talked about my thinking and the whole incident of the conker so I could understand my misunderstandings.
It has reminded me once again that all of this was just thinking all of it my thoughts none of it was fact until I checked out things with my therapist.
We have done a lot of this in therapy she is MBT ( mentalisation based therapy) trained and it’s helped me with relationships I don’t jump to conclusions so quickly I think more about what the other person maybe thinking their beliefs desires needs and feelings. Not just mine, although mine matter too.
I wonder how often we all fail to mentalise? Its worth thinking about !! We all have those ‘conker’ moments in our lives.

Below is a PowerPoint on mentalising if you’re interested in reading more


About bpdffs

I campaign for better services for people with BPD. I run #BPDchat onTwitter on Sundays at 9pm BST, please join us. I train CMHT staff in BPD awareness and run psycho-educational courses for people with BPD. I am a governor at Sheffield Health and Social Care Trust.

4 responses to “Therapy -Conkers – Thoughts on thinking”

  1. Ordinary_Madness says :

    I love reading about other people’s therapy. It sounds like it’s really helpful for you. Your T sounds great.

    “I had failed to mentalise correctly”

    This stood out for me. Is it a little judgemental? I think we all mindread, or I should say attempt to mentalise, and sometimes we are right and sometimes wrong…I guess I mean no one gets it right all the time. These things are so useful in therapy though I guess, sounds like it led to a different understanding for you. I always assume my analyst thinks I’m “gross”, logically I know this probably isn’t true,but on another level I don’t know this. Give me a few more years to mentalise correctly!

    • bpdffs says :

      Agree it is a tad judgemental particularly as I’m currently reading The Compassionate Mind …hmm maybe I judged myself again : ) I do love the verb mentalising too and the slides are brilliant.Im sure like you I will be projecting all my fears onto others for years to come but I will keep trying to mentalise ‘correctly’ Thank you for commenting

  2. Ordinary_Madness says :

    Those slides are bloody excellent! It is a good verb to have.

  3. jolsand says :

    Hi Sue,

    Thank you for the blog – it has been so helpful to read.

    Can I ask you a question about BPD therapy services would be available to me privately in Sheffield? What would be the best way to contact you?

    Thanks, keep up the inspiring work,

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