Thursday, June 14, 2018

mental health matters

When my postpartum depression was at its peak last year, I wanted nothing more than to die. Between weekly therapy visits and a prescription for Zoloft, I gradually returned to myself and found joy again. Things were so great that my therapy visits eventually dropped down to biweekly, then monthly, then none at all. Simple tasks like figuring out what to feed the kids for dinner no longer sent me to my bed, completely defeated and shut down. I felt great and continued taking the Zoloft because my therapist was pretty sure the PPD was a result of untreated preexisting anxiety (and if you know me at all this is not a shock to you).

I'm not sure what changed, but I had noticed my anxiety levels had quietly and quickly ramped up in the past few months. While I wasn't shutting down like I did during the PPD episode, I could feel myself teetering on a similar ledge, a feeling of certain doom constantly weighing me down and leaving me in tears over relatively small issues.

Recognizing that I was walking a very dangerous road and desperate to avoid the despair I felt just over a year ago, I quickly texted my therapist and asked for an appointment. She happened to have a cancellation for that afternoon and I found myself back in her office.

I used to think therapy was dumb. I am not a shy person and I can talk about my problems with anyone without shame. Why pay someone to talk to them? What good will that do me? I had seen a few therapists before as an adult and never got much out of the sessions.

I am reformed and now I think a good therapist is worth his or her weight in gold.

I felt a lot better after the first session and scheduled a second one for two weeks later. That session was a few days ago. The timing couldn't have been better because I had progressed from teetering on the ledge to one foot over. I spent the three days prior to my appointment in tears whenever my mind was unoccupied. I walked into her office crying. Everything felt so big and so overwhelming. I knew the response I was having to my circumstances (to shut down entirely) was not a rational one but I couldn't figure out how to work through my constantly racing thoughts or why I was in this place to begin with. I left her office laughing. That joy doesn't last forever--I actually cried myself to sleep that night--but it's an island in the storm.

If you've never experienced intense anxiety or depressing you can't understand how exhausting it is. Always on edge, waiting for the inevitable whatever it is to get you. Constantly thinking of the worst, hating yourself for not contributing properly to your family because the thought of getting out of bed is enough to make it impossible to get out of bed, your thoughts moving a million miles per hour. It's amazing that staying in bed an entire day can leave you totally wiped out, but it's true. None of this accounts for the physical symptoms--the heaviness on your chest, the tension in your muscles. It's awful.

All this to say: mental health matters. There is nothing wrong with seeing a therapist. You can't get better if you don't get help. A therapist you connect with is key--you may not find the right fit for you right away, and that's okay. If you are thinking about seeing someone, see if you can talk with them on the phone a bit first to get a feel for whether or not you connect with that person. And if you see a therapist but it doesn't feel right, don't hesitate to try a different therapist. Please know you aren't alone. If you want to reach out to me privately, feel free to email me at youngnotpowerless at gmail dot com.

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