I’ve spent the past 3 or 4 years of my life trying to find balance between the world in my head and the world going on around me. On the occasional morning, I’ll wake up with the utmost mental clarity. I’ll feel vibrant, well-rested, and ready to dive head-first into anything that comes my way. It was almost like being at the peak of a tidal wave
And then, I’d suddenly find myself falling into a slow decent. Conversations and tasks are difficult to focus on and the thoughts in my head suddenly become heavy. I’d wake up feeling drained and tired before I’ve even gotten out of bed for the day. My emotions would overwork themselves like crazy. I’d feel angry, sad, hopeless or suddenly nothing at all with increased intensity. It felt like all of the things that normally happen internally for a person would throw themselves into a chaotic overload as my physical body would automatically shut down because of it. It reminds me of TV static: a whole lot going on with no real value or content from any of the noise.
Eventually, the ups and downs seemed to occur more and more frequently, with the downs seeming much more impressionable than the ups. Sometimes there were tears. There were overwhelming and awful thoughts. Sometimes I would stay in bed until I absolutely needed to get up because I couldn’t convince myself that there was anything worth getting out of the covers for. The changes seemed so rapid that eventually I couldn’t keep up anymore. The only thing that felt consistent to me was the feeling of fear, wondering what would happen if I kept on living with little to no control over the things that went on in my head. And then I realized that I couldn’t keep living with no control, or more so that I would never be able to survive living that way. I knew that my thoughts were going to eat me alive and I found myself stressed out and feeling hopeless about it. It would keep me awake at night.
The stress and the fear of something bad happening to me were what guided me towards the realization that I needed to get help. When the realization hit me, it felt like the first real a moment of clarity that I’d had in a long time. And then it felt like a moment of panic. And then clarity again. The panic grew from the fact that I had no idea how to find a doctor who would work with me in a way that would be most beneficial for me. I knew so many people who denounced mental health in medicine because of the lack of empathy from whomever they’d been seeing at the time. Some people talked about being put on so many different types of pills just to try and find a solution but with no avail. The clarity came from the simple fact that I knew I would never be able to do this alone. At least, not yet.
So I did what I always do when I’m fearful of making a decision. I do it anyway. The best way to figure out an outcome is to see what happens. I did some research and called a practice made up of many psychiatric professionals in my area. I was scheduled for an appointment with a therapist who has been amazing so far. During my first visit with her, we had a long chat about what my life was like and my past experiences. She explained that I experience anxiety and depression, as well as trauma from a past experience. Even though these were the answers I’d already known, it left me in a bit of shock to hear them from someone else’s mouth. From the feeling of surprise emerged the feeling of being understood. My therapist approached the discussion of my mental health in a way that bridged the gap between the thoughts going on in my head and into the world around me. Suddenly the anxiety and depression weren’t just mine alone to deal with. It was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
I haven’t been prescribed to any medication and I probably won’t be. I feel comfortable speaking to my therapist, even though I start to cry every time I talk about situations where I was either deeply hurt or deeply affected, although I hadn’t reacted that way when these situations were happening in real time. I do have trouble expressing my emotions in healthy ways or at the right times. When the tears start flowing while I’m speaking to my therapist, she kindly reminds me that it’s okay and also where the tissues are. One thing I’ve tried doing recently is using voice memos to record myself saying exactly how I feel during long car rides alone. At first it seemed silly but now it sometimes amazes me how long I can babble on when I’m in a car by myself. It especially helps because I can sometimes hear the telltale signs of emotion in my voice. It’s not much but it’s the closest thing I can think to get similar to therapy… although much more open-ended.
All-and-all, it’s important that I’m trying. It certainly helps to see a professional, although she mostly comes off like an understanding aunt than a therapist sometimes. I think just having some who is there to listen and understands the things I’m struggling with from a clinical perspective is pretty helpful as well. I’m satisfied so far with the results of reaching out for help so hopefully it creates space for the process of functioning and getting better.