2016 was a shit year for me. I know, we are not supposed to talk about it. Yet here I am doing just that. Don’t groan just yet, this is going to be good. I have had a shit year, the kind of shit that smells and hits the fan and forever puts you off poop jokes (not really, I still like a good poop joke). I broke up with my long term boyfriend, I was misdiagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, I was depressed for a length of time to the point where I hadn’t taken a bath for three weeks straight and hadn’t gotten out of my house (thank heavens for mobile apps). I changed jobs like clothes.
So there was a point in my life when I was broke, unemployed, recently heartbroken and clinically depressed. I thought I knew what rock bottom looked like. It looked like dejection and suicide fantasies. It looked like a lack of will to live or to exist as a human being. Silver lining? I found out I had great friends and a family who did not fully understand what was happening but still supported me. I also found out I had it in me to get out of the rut. The biggest help ever was therapy. That is really why I am writing this. We need to talk about therapy as an option to build yourself back.
I visited the therapist. I was apprehensive till I started talking and crying for two hours straight. He listened.
I got into therapy in February last year, when my flatmate finally said, “I’ll pay for your first session. Just go see this guy. He is good.” I have had a tumultuous life. I knew if I was going to talk to someone about the shit-storm that was my life I would have to find someone non-judgmental, kind, understanding; someone I could question as much as he questioned me. I liked knowing why I was doing the things that he told me to do – what the logic and the science behind it was.
I chose to trust my flatmate, and I visited the therapist. I was apprehensive till I started talking and crying for two hours straight. He listened. He directed my thoughts to things I had missed; point of views, a different perspective and such. When I left, I felt lighter. I had finally unloaded all the myriad thoughts that bubble up, simmer down and often poke holes in my consciousness.
It’s been a year since I started therapy. During this time, I haven’t been the best client. I have missed therapy when I felt better, I have raved and ranted and I have questioned everything he asked me to do. My therapist has been patient. The end result is that I have learnt to cope with my issues. After a year of talking and understanding things, I have finally dealt with my self esteem issues.
Now I have a better outlook of my disorder and I have coping mechanisms in place which help me deal with stressful situations. I have a different diagnosis now. I have Borderline Personality Disorder, which means that my brain irritates me to no end with mood swings, depression, black and white thinking, cognitive distortions and what not. However, I realised how many coping mechanisms I already had in place when I was dealing with my issues already in therapy.
Therapy is not just you unloading to a stranger. It is you talking about your issues and someone nudging you towards making sense of it and then slowly helping you tweak your thought process and perspective so that things don’t seem so grim anymore. I know you can always talk to a friend, but unless your friend is a trained professional, it’s not therapy. Therapy isn’t magic juice, it doesn’t work in a day or maybe even a month. It’s slow but it is effective.
People with mental health disorders like mine often need to be on medication. Trust me, I’ve tried being off it. It just ended up making me want to kill myself and rid myself of the depression at the end of six months. So I went back on medication, but it only takes care of you on a chemical level. It does nothing to help you cope with your disorder so that you can be a productive member of the society. It doesn’t help you with maintaining healthy relationships (any relationship). It doesn’t tell you how to recognise your cognitive distortion and then deal with it. Therapy does all of these things and more.
Trust in therapy if not in therapists.
I know some people are put off by therapy because they have had bad experiences with therapists. To them I say, trust in therapy if not in therapists. I have had some bad experiences too. One therapist offered Ayurvedic solutions while another actually rapped me on my head. I have heard horror stories of judgmental therapists. However, I also know there are good ones. There are therapists who listen to you and care about your mental health. Let not bad experiences with some people put you off therapy. It is still an essential part of mental health care. I am still in therapy and stand by it. I have friends who are doing better because of therapy. I thought this needed to be said. So there, this is my piece of wisdom.