Meetings with Ivor

Meetings with Ivor

I recently went to see the documentary 'Meetings with Ivor' in the Eye cinema in Galway. It was also showing in the Irish Film Institute in Dublin. Comedian Tommy Tiernan, singer Mary Coughlan, Nell McCafferty, playwright Tom Murphy, author Sebastian Barry, musician Ronan Browne, philosopher Richard Kearney, Psychiatrist Brendan Kelly and a young woman that Ivor helped  called Ruth O’Doherty took part in this documentary. It is directed by Alan Gilsenan. There are also clips of medical journalist Robert Whitaker and trauma expert Dr. Bessel van der Kolk.

With Mary Coughlan we get to see Regression therapy in action. She goes back into childhood and vividly remembers some experiences. She found it hard to remember the good times in her childhood and wanted to stay bitter. Regression therapy helped her with this. Ruth O’Doherty describes how working with Ivor and his words of wisdom helped give her back control over her life.

It was exactly 5 years since I had my first therapy session with Ivor Browne. Due to ageism people laughed at me at the time for going to see an 82 year old man. He is now nearly 88 and still full of up-to-date expertise, wisdom, insight and knowledge. Ivor showed compassion, empathy and understanding for the emotional distress I had been through and listened to my human story in an open minded way.

He dismissed my diagnosis of Bipolar / Manic Depression. This alternative perspective contradicted the biomedical view of the mental health system and mainstream Psychiatry which had mainly prescribed lots of drugs. I came out of the mental health system very sedated and traumatised. I had lost all confidence in myself. Due to “the Frozen present” that Ivor talks about, where past trauma can get frozen in time, I found it hard to let go of the difficulties of the past and to live in the present. Over the last 4 years I no longer experience mania / psychosis which was initially triggered in 2008 by an anti-depressant I was on for anxiety. The work of Dr. Terry Lynch, Sean Blackwell and others has also helped.

Ivor’s guidance was invaluable, even if I’ve had some difficulties to work through since then. Meeting him was a big part of my evolution and inspired me to slowly move forward with my life. After a session of Regression therapy it is good to be in a safe space and to close down from it. After one such session I sat by the sea and processed my feelings and emotions. I later wrote about it as part of the work we were doing.

Bibliotherapy and reading relevant books are a big part of my ongoing work. I also trained in WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan). This gave my journey some structure. The 5 key concepts in WRAP are Hope, Personal Responsibility, Self-advocacy (being able to stand up for self), Education and Support. Meeting with Ivor gave me the Hope that I needed at a time when I didn’t feel very hopeful.

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