I think I have figured it out.
I mentioned that lately, I’ve been feeling off. I guess that means I feel like I’m floating and am in fact, not feeling. When I do feel it is a one of overwhelm. I have been scratching my head- so to speak- racking my brain as to why the numbness has returned.
I have’t been able to come up with much. After all:
All is good and that is when it’s hard to say “I’m struggling,” because from the outside, I shouldn’t be. I think we, and by we I mean as a collective whole, refer to depression as a state of mind or mood we can control. And maybe for some people that is how depression presents itself. But, I think one of the things that I’m personally trying be as loud as possible about is that depression is also an illness.
It’s one that ebbs and flows.
I don’t know about other warriors but I’ll find myself in remission and then out of the blue I’m in the actual darkness.
The throws of an exacerbation.
In those moments, people what to know why. They want an explanation. I mean, I think people generally mean well. As a species, humans want to know what’s making their counterparts sick so they can make them better. I guess that is human nature. We want to help each other and heal one another. But, it’s hard to explain “why” to something that even I don’t know.
I think it’s hard for people to understand that when it comes to mental illness, they can’t help you and they can’t heal you. Not only is that hard o understand, it is impossible for them accept. After all, we cower away from grief, sadness, and generally any uncomfortable feeling. I think as a collective, we have an easier time celebrating joy than we do experiencing grief.
Especially if we are on the sidelines.
Overall, I think what people can do to help someone with depression is completely dependent on the person who has depression. I don’t usually want to talk so asking me to explain myself, my feelings, or share my thoughts actually makes me feel more frustrated and guilty and alone. Because I can’t explain it. I can’t justify it.
It just is.
For me, What I find to be most helpful is being reminded of the coping mechanisms that are at my disposal. You know the tools in my toolbox that have proven themselves to help me. A gentle nudge of something to the effect of “did you do yoga today?” or “how’s writing?” is kind and supportive. And noticed.
I’ve spoken of several of the tools in my proverbial toolbox and the medications I take to keep me balanced. There is a tool that is critical to my maintenance and recently I let it fall to the wayside. And it’s not yoga. Are you shocked that it’s not the yoga? Because I can sense the shock from this side of the screen. This time I’m referring to…
dun dun dun…
therapy. As in counseling.
I usually see my therapist on a monthly basis. That wasn’t always the case and when I wasn’t going monthly I was having a mental breakdown, literally. Once I graduated (as they say) from IOP (intensive outpatient therapy) I saw my counselor weekly. And then I went every two weeks. And then I felt comfortable enough to go monthly. And it’s been that way for the last three years.
Sometimes I think that I don’t need to go. I’m doing fine and I am holding it together. I’m practicing all the things that keep me well and I’m enjoying them. My cup is full, my self care is on point, I’m fucking killing it with managing this depression thing.
When I feel like I don’t need to go to counseling I remind myself: that is the point. I go to counseling so that I don’t find myself in a situation where I “need” to go to counseling. Ya know?
Those sessions, the ones when I’m all sassy and overconfident and like, “I don’t need to be here” are usually the sessions where I uncover a layer to myself I didn’t know existed. Where I gain a deeper understanding of who I am and what is important. The times I don’t think I need to go to therapy are usually my most ground breaking sessions.
You’re wanting me to get to the point. I can feel your eyes burning through the screen asking “can you please just make a point already?” Okay, okay. Here’s the point.
We all know my March was a shit show. As a result, I cancelled my counseling session.
I didn’t have the time.
I didn’t have the financial resources.
I didn’t have the availability.
Okay I won’t keep doing the “boom” thing but consider each “boom” to be an error in my thought process. Think of it as me completely underestimating and undermining my illness. When I reached our to my counselor and she said her next availability was in four weeks (AKA eight weeks from my last session) I thought, “I can make it, I’m doing fine.” (I’m super tempted to say boom here but I’ll spare you).
I forgot that I “make it” and “do fine” because I have been going to therapy every month.
Therapy is a time that I set aside on a monthly basis to process what I’m living. It is a time where I am asked to reflect on the last few weeks and notice where I’m struggling and acknowledge what I’m dong well. All without judgement. I’m asked to simply notice.
It is also a time that I’m held accountable and reminded of what I need to do to stay well. It is also a time where I learn new concepts about mental health (and really life), am given new ideas for coping mechanisms, and make new neurotransmitter connections between my past and my present self. I am given resources to deepen my understanding of my illness, my healing, and myself.
That hour each month is my magic.
That’s why I’m currently in the midst of a depression exacerbation. I haven’t been to counseling in almost two months.
I think I’m funny. Anyway.
I’ve been counting down to my upcoming session. If I’m being honest, part of me is dreading the appointment because I know I’m in a head space where it’s hard for me to open up and I am not in the mood to talk or mend but on the flip side I am looking forward to getting back on track.
So my (‘nother) point is this: do the things that keep you well. If you aren’t sure what to do or where to go, consider therapy. Because it can truly be life altering and it can take your unbearable mental illness and make it manageable. And when you think you don’t need it (or any healthy coping mechanism) anymore, remind yourself that you feel that way because what you are doing is working.
I know I’m lucky that I’ve I found the therapist who could really get through to me and help me. Or maybe I was just ready at the moment I went to said therapist to do the work. And to keep doing the work. And maybe the cherry on top is that she is an incredible counselor. I guess what I want to acknowledge here is that finding a therapist is hard. And it’s disheartening when you go to therapist after therapist, rehashing trauma, triggering your insides only to leave knowing that you have to keep searching for someone who is able to meet you where you are and help you find your way out of the darkness. And it’s even harder when counselors aren’t accepting new patients or they charge roughly the cost of a mortgage to see them.
That’s why I (co)started Love Will Foundation.
If you are in need of counseling but can’t afford it, visit our website. We are here to help you.
If you are struggling, reach out. Here are some resources you can reach out to if you find yourself in crisis: