Thoughts from Therapy is a series where I talk honestly about my struggle with and recovery from depression and anxiety. My hope is to promote open conversation about mental health and to let anyone else struggling know they’re not alone. See previous posts here.
I closed the door. Threw on my leather jacket and took one last look inside the waiting room as I walked towards the exit.
Outside I take one deep breath and say goodbye to the affective team.
I unlock my bike and start walking home. Like most days, I don’t bike home, I need to go slow so I have time to process the past hour’s conversation.
I share openly and candidly about my mental health struggles on this platform. Though honestly, I find it much easier to write about now that I’m over the biggest hurdle. Maybe it’s because I’ve processed more of the experience (maybe it’s just because everything is easier when you’re not depressed).
I’ve talked about how my therapist made me aware of the progress I’ve made in the time we worded together. So for me, there’s no doubt therapy has been beneficial.
But it’s impossible not to wonder:
What makes you think this time will be different?
And I’m going to disprove that silly thought.
- I’ve learned about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) which resonates with me, and is something I’m going to continue to explore and learn about on my own.
- I have resources, books, about ACT that I can always turn to when I need a resfresher
- This time therapy didn’t just revolve around depression, most of it was actually about learning to deal with social anxiety – which I wasn’t certain I had (or felt comfortable talking about) before my therapist acknowledged it. It’s easier to manage a beast when you know what you’re dealing with.
- Having better tools to cope with my social anxiety makes me less likely to put myself in situations where depression can grow (like social isolation).
- I know where to get help, I know who to reach out to. I now know mental health struggles are serious and valid, and deserves treatment too.
- I’m finding ways to deal with negative emotions that involve more than just eating a mountain of food or completely isolating myself from the rest of the world.
- I try to bring the practice of mindfulness into daily activities
- I’ve changed my perspective on meditation, found an approach that works for me, and I’m trying to practice regularly.
- I check in on my gut feeling daily and ask myself what do I need to feel ok.
- I’m learning to say “🦆 you” to society and other people’s expectations of me
- I’m still getting better at allowing myself to take breaks (or a whole day of unproductiveness) rather than constantly feeling like I should be working or studying even when I’m not.
- I’m working on being able to open up to the people closest to me, to let them know when I’m having a tough time, so they get the chance to support me.
- I’ve also learned to deal with my chronic knee pain. While it hasn’t caused my mental health issues, it has caused me stress in the past, as well as kept my from doing things I love (like, moving).
You’ll notice my wording in this list include quite some modifiers like “trying to..”, “learning to..” rather than just “doing”. It’s because none of these skills are easy, and using them in life is a continual challenge. They’re not something you do once, put a check mark on the paper, then never think about again.
Now I could make a list of things suggesting the opposite. I don’t doubt there would be quite a few items on that list. However, I prefer being a disillusioned optimist over an anxious realist, at least in this case.
And please remember.
If you’re struggling, you’re not alone <3