EM: Matt, good to see you – how are you?
Matt: Good, I’m good. I’m waiting for you to notice the weight I’ve lost – not! [Laughter]
EM: So – what’s better all round Matt?
Matt: I’ve started keeping a diary, like a log of what’s better for me – did you suggest that?
EM: I didn’t but can we pretend I did because it sounds great…. [Laughter]
Matt: I also read a book about “practicing gratitude” and really liked it
EM: I’m a big fan of that myself
Matt: So – I walk every day and I do feel better for it. I am on this “clean diet” – its not a proper clean diet thing that I’ve read about, its just eating better food, that really made a different to me, even to my sleep but I don’t think its down to the food – probably the walking. But anyway I feel physically better so that’s got to be good.
EM: Excellent – and emotionally?
Matt: I think its had a knock-on effect with my overall state. I manage better because I am busier and more focused on my well-being and playing a part in that – its quite enjoyable.
EM: An analogy comes to me now Matt…….
EM: Well, seeing as it served us well last time: let’s go with that.
Matt: You said last time that I had my friends to talk about Act 2 and that we should focus on Act 3
EM: Mmmmmmm – when you had left, I doubted myself a little that that was a right suggestion on my part. What do you think?
Matt: No – it was right. It was perfect for me – that separation, somewhere to talk only about what is right in my life and how to make it more right and to talk about my future. Total revelation to me that I could have a separate place to focus on something other than what I haven’t achieved and what’s gone wrong – it was a great help to me.
EM: So pleased to hear that. I had thought that that was why you didn’t come back for the 5th December meeting…
Matt: No, no – I was genuinely down with flu. Did you not believe me?
Matt: Ah, seriously it was helpful to have that separation and focus. Really, I’m pleased with what I’ve done, because of what I’ve changed. I thought it would be a much hard slog to like myself again, to feel lifted from the fatigue and misery I felt sometimes. Its been hard, don’t get me wrong, but not as hard as I thought it was going to be. I took control and it felt good, it felt right. I had no idea if I was going to make it all work to get me out of the place I was at – but it was worth it. I’m grateful for that.
EM: I hope you’re grateful to your own grit, resilience and creativity Matt – because you certainly took charge of your own progress.
Matt: Thank you
EM: Good. Where are we now? On a scale of 1 – 10 with 10 being you feel you’ve got a good handle on this going forward?
Matt: I’d say 7. Well when you think of how low I was a month ago – I’d say even a “1” would have been too high but I have really work hard at this, really connected to what I need to do to thrive. That’s my new word, thrive. I want to thrive and even though 7 is good, my 10 will be that I am “thriving”. I know I am not lower on the scale because I can do a little more in some areas than I could a month ago and a lot more in other areas but I am aware that I am working on it – do you know what I mean?
Matt: Yes. Thriving? That’s an interesting goal. Could you tell me what that looks like for you?
EM: Not worrying that I’m going to slip back all the time.
EM: How will you differentiate a low day, that we all for have, for instance, and “slipping back”?
Matt: That’s a point, I don’t know – if it lasted longer maybe?
EM: What would your strategies be should you ever feel it was lasting longer?
Matt: I haven’t got any to mind right now
EM: This book of yours that you write down everything that is working for you – do you write down your methods or strategies? y’know the “how” you keep yourself well as well as the “what”?
EM: So, is that something you might include? These strategies, these “what” and “how” things?
Matt: Yes, I could, that’s a good idea and are you saying use it as a strategy book until they are embedded in me?
EM: Well, I wasn’t but I am now. But can I add that I don’t think always being “up” and “wonderfully happy” is a fair benchmark for us as people. I think we all have low days as well as high days and the work is in knowing our personal coping strategies for when those days come. Can you tell me what some of yours are lately?
EM: That’s a fair coping strategy isn’t it? And then we up the ante on our coping strategies when the day is lower than we thought it was going to be? Is that what you mean?
Matt: I do, yes. Exactly
EM: So, what do your friends notice that is different with you in the past month?
Matt: They say that my relationship with them is different – I talk more about what I am doing rather than what is missing in my life. I did say to them that I am waiting for one of them to go through a hard time so that I can repay them. Not sure that went down well.
EM: Nooooooo, I imagine not. So – 7: do you want to talk about what a 7 /1/4 would look like?
Matt: Well, you might think its a big leap, or maybe not, but I thought I might volunteer at the AmDram in XXXXXXX [Amateur Dramatics in XXXXXXXX]
EM: Wow. I don’t think it a big leap or a small leap – I think its your leap. I’m very interested in this decision – do you want to tell me more?
Matt: A friend asked me and I said I’d think about and I thought about it and figured that I would feel comfortable because they wouldn’t judge me if I had a wobble – although I haven’t met them yet, who knows? To tell the truth, its a bit arrogant but I was thinking that as I would be the only professional actor – I would feel less pressure.
EM: Big fish in a little pond kind of thing?
Matt: Yes, exactly!
EM: So, what direction should our session take going forward Matt?
Matt: I’d like to continue – I think I’ll have lots to tell you at the next session. Can we make it after I’ve started the Amdram?
EM: Great, no problem. Can I just clarify Matt, that these sessions are not just for you to tell me what’s better – they are to help you assess what you’re doing well, what works for you and what you might want to tinker with to work better and, of course, whatever you want to discuss – I don’t want you to think for one moment that you can’t talk to me about anything you wish.
Matt: No, I know that. But I like that I have a place to recount all the good things I’m doing – I listen to them while I am telling them to you. Its useful for me.
EM: Marvellous, really marvellous, that’s what I’d always want.
Matt: I do know Eileen that I can focus on Act 2 or even Act 1 if I want and that you’d let me.
EM: I would Matt.