Yesterday I had therapy. I started therapy about 6 months ago. Back in June I realized I was no longer able to deal with my mental illness on my own and I could no longer find reasons to want to keep living. I never went so far as to make a plan to end my life but I spent a great deal of time wishing I wasn’t here, thinking of why everyone would be better off with out me, imagining “accidents” that could happen to me, longing to be done with life. It got worse and worse. After a couple of long nights one week where I lay in bed all night not sleeping, praying that if God really loved me he would just let me die, thinking I didn’t even care if it was cancer or something long and horrible and painful because I probably deserved that, I just couldn’t do this anymore, I decided it was time to get help. Being a person who is not a fan of medicine I decided that therapy should be my first step.
So I scheduled an appointment. I started out weekly. For months I went every single week and sat in that office and talked about dark, scary things. I talked about the past, the horrible memories and feelings I had and how they had messed me up deep down inside. As I dealt with all of these feelings and learned to process them instead of push them down and ignore them I was sad. Sometimes I was inconsolable. I was filled with dread for how long and hard this journey would be. I sometimes lost hope. I felt emotionally destroyed. Sometimes I was so damn angry. Mostly though, I cried. Every single week I left that office and I cried. At first for days at a time as I tried to process these feelings and make sense of everything I was learning and remembering. Then after a long time just on the same days my appointments. After months and more hopelessness and more wanting to die and more hard work and more setbacks and finally meds things started to get better. I still cried but only right after my appointments. I was making sense of things. I was learning to process and cope. I had tools for dealing with the pain and the difficulty.
About 3 or 4 weeks after starting meds I left my therapy appointment and I didn’t cry. For the first time since I started. We had still talked about hard things. There were still bad things happening but we talked through them. We made a plan and talked about my feelings and I didn’t cry and I didn’t feel that familiar sense of hopelessness. I felt so successful. So proud. I had worked tirelessly to get to this point. We decided that I needed only come every other week. I was elated. It felt like for the first time in years I was succeeding.
Yesterday was appointment day. I no longer have anxiety attacks before I go. I no longer get the feeling of dread deep in the pit of my stomach. I feel like it is just another day. Just another thing I am doing for myself to make myself more healthy. This week a few really bad things happened. Things that would have sent me into a spiral of self-hate and hopelessness in the past. But as we talked we realized that I’ve got this. I am coping in healthy ways with difficult situations. I am not blaming myself or hating myself. I have supportive, amazing people surrounding me and helping me and loving me. I am enough. We decided yesterday that I do not need to come back for a month. A MONTH! I felt so proud of myself in that moment. I can’t help but think of how I felt 6 months ago. I have come so far. I have put in so much hard work. And it is finally paying off. I am finally feeling some happiness.
My first day of therapy was one of the hardest days of my life. I left exhausted. In fact, I felt that way for months. Learning to be completely honest about scary stuff not only with another human but especially with myself felt impossible. The work I was doing felt impossible. There were so many times when I thought I was not strong enough to do this work, to keep going. But I did. And it turned out to be the best thing ever. I feel strong and healthy. I feel like I can handle anything. I know that depression and anxiety will always be here. They do not really go away. But now I have a box full of tools to help me in tough times. And I have learned through this process which relationships are healthy and which people are really there for me. My support system. The ones who have showed up every day. The ones that have showed me that they love me not just at my best but also at my absolute worst, at rock bottom. The ones that were here when it felt impossible and even though there was nothing they could do they were present. They just sat with me and said I am here; I love you no matter what. That is the greatest gift I have ever received. And I never could have done this without them. They gave me the strength to keep on working.
If you are struggling I strongly recommend seeking out the help of a therapist. It can be overwhelming and daunting to think about starting. Especially knowing that the first one you try might not be the right one. But when you do find your person it will absolutely be worth it. And it is so much better than the alternative. You deserve some happiness. We all do. And you are absolutely worth it. Just like me.