My Next Step – Schema Therapy

Loving the ADHD devil – DAY 29

My current therapy, as well as my 30 days of writing, are about to end. The past weeks I have learned how to love myself and how to love my ADHD devil again. I got a glimpse of what I can be like, an idea of how happiness feels and I started to believe in myself again. I discovered that I deserve much more than what I have been giving myself, that I am not the worthless creature I always believed I was but that I am instead worthy of getting everything I want, or at least that I earn it to myself to try. I found out that it was unfair to treat myself with hate and blame, with strict rules about my emotions and behavior, I was unfair to myself and I discovered that the person I am when I am able to let go of everything and just be in the moment is actually not a bad one. And in a way I started to love my true self.

Too Much Hidden Darkness

Unfortunately, this is not the end. I am able to connect to myself, I am able to see the girl I once was and I am able to allow the parts of myself that I have been hiding for years. However, my problems are too big for any self-compassion book to solve within weeks. I live with scars and wounds, damage from my past, that can not heal easily but silently influences so much of my personality and behavior and prevent me from being who I truly want to be, prevent me from ever being happy even.

I can read about self-love and compassion as much as I want but I will never be able to heal my dark parts, I will never be able to deal with the pain that has created the damage inside me and I will always keep living with a part of me that is just not right. This is why my therapist presented me the option to start a new therapy, one that’s called “schema therapy”.

Schema Therapy

In schema therapy, you’ll work with a therapist to uncover and understand your schemas. Schemas are unhelpful patterns that some people develop if their emotional needs aren’t met as a child, they can affect you throughout life and contribute to problematic coping methods and behaviors if they aren’t addressed. Schema therapy aims to teach you how to ensure your emotional needs are met in a healthy way that doesn’t cause distress.

In short, every child has five core needs, a sense of safety and being securely attached to others, a sense of self-identity and autonomy, the freedom to express how you feel and ask for what you need from others, the ability to play and be spontaneous and safe age-appropriate limits and boundaries. When the core needs of a child are not met, or if  a child encounters negative experiences, schemas start to develop which can unconsciously influence your thoughts and actions in an effort to prevent emotional distress. While this sounds like it could be useful, the coping methods that schemas create are often unhealthy or harmful.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is schema-modes.png

In schema therapy, your reactions to schemas are known as coping styles. These can involve thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. They develop as a way of avoiding the painful and overwhelming emotions experienced as a result of a certain schema. Coping styles can be helpful in childhood, as they provide a means of survival, but in adulthood, they can reinforce schemas and cause harm. During schema therapy you’ll learn to:

  • Stop using maladaptive coping styles and modes that block contact with feelings
  • Heal schemas and vulnerable modes through getting needs met in and outside of the therapeutic relationship
  • Incorporate reasonable limits for angry, impulsive or overcompensating schemas and modes
  • Fight punitive, overly critical or demanding schemas and modes
  • Build healthy schemas and modes

Reparenting

Part of schema therapy is limited reparenting. The therapist helps fulfill emotional needs that weren’t met in childhood by offering security, compassion, and respect. And this is exactly why I believe I have to start this therapy. I notice that, throughout my entire life, I have been desperately searching for a parent in every person I met, searching for someone who could make my life make sense and make me feel like I am allowed to exist. Teachers, bosses, friend’s parents, neighbors, I was always looking for someone to make me feel loved and appreciated, however, no one was ever able to fulfill this need and this part of me has always been empty.

I have never truly seen it until now, but I need a parent, I need someone to teach me, someone that can accept me while I can truly learn what is right and wrong, someone who can accept my tears and gives me the comfort I need to stop crying. I never had this, I never had someone I could completely rely on and be open to and with ever attempt to find someone like this, I was left, feeling even more alone, more misunderstood and more like I should not belong in this world. I need reparenting more than anything.

I Am Ready

Besides, I am afraid that there are many unhelpful patterns in my behavior, things I don’t really understand but pop up, take over, and harm me and the people close to me. I find myself playing the role of the angry or vulnerable child way too often, and I can turn into the demanding parent more than I like. My basic responses to everything are usually limited to fight-flight or freeze and I have to admit that I am the biggest over compensator I have ever met.

I have problems, and although I have been always ignoring them, it is now time to start fixing them, start fixing me, and become the person I am supposed to be, finally free of my childhood trauma’s. I believe schema therapy has to be by next journey and hopefully I can soon start. I am ready to heal, ready to make my tragedy my own and truly grow up to be me.

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