Therapy with the right therapist can make all the difference in the world for a person who is dealing with a mental illness. During the duration of my
During the duration of my diagnosis, I have spent more time not in therapy due to the fact that I could not afford it or had health insurance (I will write about the subject of health insurance and be able to afford medical costs during my diagnosis in another blog post.)
It was in 2014 when I finally got health insurance and it made it possible to receive help from a case manager/therapist with my local behavior health department. I have been a part of behavioral health since 2007 when I was diagnosed. I was skeptical at first when they told me that I would get a therapist. Since my first doctor left (the one that I had been working with for five years to get better) it had been one psychiatrist after another.
My case was so bad in 2007 that my local behavior health department had no choice but to take me in to see a psychiatrist. If you have dealt with the system you know that they will limit you at every corner when you don’t have insurance. The catch-22 of the situation is that I was classified as having a “pre-existing” condition so getting state help was practically impossible. It was only with Obamacare that this changed for me, and it is why I feel comfortable sharing my own story here on my blog. Without therapy, I would never have found the strength to share my experiences with the world.
It was in therapy that I first found the strength to share my past and started to understand what was going on in my life. Up to this point, I had shared my past with my psychiatrists at some level, but never in depth like I did in therapy. It was slow and steady over the years as I started to get comfortable. My therapist helped me get through some bad depression cycles and we have worked really hard in the last year in getting my social anxiety in a better place.
Having that steady presence in my life, a professional who understands that I sometimes miss my appointments or when she remembers how I feel about school or how my life is going at that particular moment of the year. I can talk to my therapist about how I am a perfectionist and when things are not perfect (which always seems to be the case) it changes me. I get depressed. Then she tells me that I might be too hard on myself. She helped me realize the little good things in life that most people in my situation would love to be able to do. My ability to write and to get good grades. I found my compassion to help people like myself in therapy.
We work through my issues one session at a time. Three years ago I would never have believed it would be possible to share my life with anyone let alone a therapist, and yet I have been more open the last few years. It amazes me still that therapy was the difference that I needed to take my recovery to the next level. Since my last suicide attempt in 2010, I have been working on a single major goal (and also a bunch of equally important smaller goals) which is to work on coming to terms with my diagnosis and get better. Both of these have seen success.
This means keeping my depression at acceptable levels during the winter time. I have learned even this past week no matter how much I plan, there will still be days that things just don’t go right. The last two days were a perfect example. On Tuesday I did the bare minimum on my writing and school work and missed an appointment with my therapist. I was just too depressed and eventually, I laid in bed the rest of the day. Yesterday I got more done after an earlier start but by afternoon I had reached my limit and stopped writing.
In the past, I would have waited weeks to call back my therapist and reschedule but this time I called her that day and talk about my depression. I would have let my depression take over the rest of the week but I was able to adjust by sleeping in a bit today and then starting my day. I feel much better at where my depression is today. Yesterday I tried to force my day and it was less productive than I would have liked. I learned in therapy that my life is about constant adjustments in my behaviors.
I write this blog post because the importance of talking through issues that go through your life can change your perspective completely. It did for me. For some people group therapy really works for them because of its like-minded people. I am not in a place where I could share with others in group verbally versus writing my thoughts here. It just feels more comfortable/therapeutic to write and group therapy was never for me. But it might be for you.
If right now you are going through a tough depression cycle, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, or anything related to your mental health it might help you get through it to talk to someone. It might be someone you trust or a professional. Through so much of the last ten years of my diagnosis, I wasted so much time thinking there would be no one on this planet that could possibly understand what I was going through.
If I have learned anything since starting this blog is that people within the mental illness community are more compassionate then I ever gave them credit for, and I think that there is not a better group of people in the world. I am proud to be a part of the mental health community and the connections I make every day through my blog.
I will end this with a plea to get help if you need and never be afraid that no one will understand. Always keep fighting.
Photo Credit: Gerome Viavant</