I believe in being genuine, especially when it comes to dealing with mental illness. This is mostly because reading about other people who have the courage to be open about their weaknesses has given me strength to deal with mine.
I also believe in guarding my own privacy... and I don’t always strike the best balance between openness and privacy, especially when it comes to being online. I know I’ve gone too far in each direction more than once, depending on my emotions at the time. That’s why I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise to anyone when I say that I’m depressed, and struggling toward recovery.
At least, some days I struggle. Most days I just survive. Today I have struggled, though, at least a little bit. Let’s see if I can talk about it without skewing that line between genuine and private.
I went to a counseling appointment today. It took an absurd amount of time to find a good therapist once I arrived here in New Jersey, but that’s a different drama. I have one now, thanks to the timely intervention of a good friend.
I was late by a couple minutes, and lucky it wasn’t more, because in a moment of distraction while I thought about the upcoming session, I got on the highway going toward work instead of toward Route 1, and had to waste time turning around. Then I spent most of the drive being really annoyed with myself over that mistake and trying to gauge whether I could make up the time on the road, arguing with myself in my head: “Remember that time you made it from Livingston campus to the Pin Oak house in 21 minutes? This isn’t even as far.” “Do you know how fast I was going that time? Also it was night. Also the roads are wet, and there's the little fact that I spun the car out three weeks ago...”
Anyway, I got there, and a good thing I did. See… well, I wish I could adequately explain just how frustrating this has been. “Frustrating” isn’t even the right word. Events, or lack of them, more accurately, have contributed to this growing sense of despair, feeding from that into conviction that things will never be all right. So every day I tell myself, “Hold on a little bit longer. There’s something you haven’t tried yet, and you have to try everything. Wait to see a psychiatrist. Wait for a prescription. Wait for the effects to kick in, wait to see if it makes a difference… even though it doesn’t feel like it’s going to make a difference, wait and see if it does.” And I wait… but so many days in a row bring me no closer than I was before to any of those steps, and the weight gets a little heavier… the cloud gets a little denser… and I have to argue with people about whether what I’m waiting for is even necessary.
I want another word for despair, and I don’t even have the energy to stop and think of one.
Today, I hoped and expected to get a name from my therapist. A number I could call. Somebody I could say I was referred to, so at least I could have that much confidence that I was going to the right place.
I got the name, and more. My therapist started to ask if I was going to make the call, then stopped and asked if I would like her to call, right then. And then she dialed, got in touch with somebody right away, and made sure that I’ll have an appointment next Friday.
I can’t tell you how relieved I was, for so many reasons. Not just that I have an appointment now, although that’s a big one. I’m also relieved that somebody actively supports my choice to pursue this option; that someone agrees not only that I have the right to make that choice, but that it very well might be the right choice to make; that someone was willing and offered to take on such a simple task that nevertheless seemed so overwhelming and draining, just to ensure my wellbeing. Yes, it’s her job to help me in my recovery, but she didn’t have to do the specific thing that she did, and there was no one else who would have. (Except for me, of course… and yes, I would have made the call, but I don’t think everything would have been accomplished with the same speed. Besides, these little things help more than most people realize.) Perhaps most importantly, there’s someone reminding me that the fact that I show up at her office every week on my own initiative means something. That’s a victory every time it happens, because it means I haven’t given up yet.
Progress. Significant progress. The cloud is still there, but that was a step, and every step is a real battle.
It’s not to say that the rest of the day was easy. I spent the rest of the session avoiding talking about one loss by talking about another one instead, which I had also been avoiding in past sessions.
I relived the month of November in halting words, unsure how to express the truth. The session went long. I burst into tears as soon as I walked out the door (they had only been leaking before), and they kept up for most of the 45 minute drive to my store where I needed to make sure my work schedule would be compatible with my new appointment. My face was dry when I walked in, but I noticed a little too late that the pooling tears had soaked and stained a sizable patch around the neckline of my shirt. (No one mentioned it. They never mention my red eyes when I come back from breaks, either. A kind and tactful bunch. I’m grateful for them.)
I went to a chiropractor who annoyed the hell out of me. (“There, don’t you feel your head clearing out now?” “Um. No. No, I really don’t.” Pretty sure it’s going to take more than a chiropractic adjustment to get that effect... although I think he meant a different kind of clear than I do.) I also realized when I got home at nearly 7:30 that I had hardly eaten anything all day. Then I realized that eating hasn't been such a struggle lately for the simple reason that I've been forgetting to struggle over it, which is just another problem itself.
Still. Today counts as a victory. Not the most important one… but then, I guess at this point all of them are important.