Continuing on yesterday’s post about mental health I want to talk about my decision to seek outside help. Talking to friend’s and family is great but sometimes it is not enough. The above photo was my self-evaluation. Not good.
Talking to a professional provided two things. First, it is someone who is not close to the situation so they can provide an outside voice. Second, I’m weird and like it when information given to me is verified by a profession in the field. Gives me extra assurance. For instance my fears associated with class participation in college. I could read a book and know and understand the information but until the professor confirms my knowledge I never trusted it enough to speak my opinions in a classroom setting. This went full blown fear when I had to write my masters thesis. When working on a thesis, at least in my case, it is independent research building up from original thoughts to form your argument. I second guessed my way all the way through the 2 years it took to complete. I was only reassured during meetings with my adviser when he gave me thumbs up or down on my ideas. It was a nerve-wracking experience but it has made me a better researcher and critical thinker.
I digress… I do that a lot!
So I dragged my feet a long time on the choice to seek therapy. Mostly because I have always been a bit of a procrastinator… okay a lot so… and the depression didn’t help as it usually left me numb and unmotivated. I always felt though like I had a handle on my emotions. I thought seeing a therapist meant that I was crazy. A confirmation that something is wrong with me and that I was broken. During the really bad days I would just drink or eat to stuff down the pain then sleep for long hours.
However, 2014 was a very trying year for me:
I didn’t deal with the abuse that I previously went through
Whatever it was that I had with the bus driver ended in March
My emotionally draining second relationship ended in September which was the same month my grandfather passed.
The bad days quickly turned to bad weeks turned to bad months and enough was enough! By December I was crying and feeling like crap EVERY DAM DAY! Not even being at work was a relief because someone there was causing me stress as well.
Many survivors expect a smooth, constant emotional upward swing after an abusive relationship is over. They expect each day to be better than the one before. When this doesn’t happen, they may become discouraged, disheartened, and fearful that they may never feel better (Dugan, p. 116).
I didn’t want to live like this so I was finally determined to search for a therapist and it took quite some time! No one picks up or returns phone calls!
I left so many messages… so many dam messages!
Finally on advice from a friend I contacted my current therapy office. They had a special day set aside for new incoming patients to do a walk-in intake. I went to the very next one. I spent two hours answering questions and wiping away tears. By the end of it they recommended me for treatment by both a psychiatrist and a therapist. The therapist I was to see once a week and the psychiatrist once every 6 to 8 weeks. After 6 months of going the therapist cut me down to 2 times a month. We talked about going to once a month but I’m not ready. Sometimes I have to cancel or she cancels and then a month goes by without an appointment. During the third week I start to get a bit of anxiety.
I suppose I’ve gotten to the point where I look forward to my therapy sessions. I feel like they are restart buttons for the in-between weeks. I have gone from doing nothing but sitting there and crying to talking nonstop about my stress, depression, anxiety, and other concerns. I tell her about my bad dreams, days at work, and the sometimes emotional roller-coaster I am on for any given day. To show how insecure I still can be I asked her yesterday if I am doing therapy right because I am not sure how I am doing. She told me yes she has noticed I’ve gotten a lot better since last year and this made me happy.
So I took a re-took a test that I did before I started therapy.
This was the first round:
The red/orange marks I just did today. I see improvements across the board!
Could be better but the important part is healing not how fast it gets done!
*Worksheets were taken from Megan Kennedy Dugan’s book, It’s my life now: Starting over after an abusive relationship or domestic violence.