Today was exhausting.
At two o’clock I was getting ready to leave my house. There was no time for thoughts as I rushed to find my shoes. The moment of reflection came when I finally sat in the car. I am twenty-one and on my way to another therapy appointment.
Another therapy appointment. In a different city, with a different person, four years later. Therapy has been a large part of my life. Most of my teenage years spent sitting in a quiet room designed for comfort and trying to make something of the thoughts in my head. It seems as if half that time those small rooms were in hospitals. Hospitals that saved my life. The four walls of therapist offices have seen me in most states of mind, but I am an entirely different girl now. I am less of a haunting, and more of a renovation after the exorcism.
I know when I was fifteen I was a mess. I saw everything in grey, it seemed like nothing would ever get better. I was suffering from major depression along with a host of other things. I spent a lot of time miserable, but I also spent a lot of time trying to survive. I can look back and know exactly what that was like, I can feel it. I can also see what that girl couldn’t, because of how much I have grown.
Healing came slowly. Honesty helped the most, and growing up gave me a new perspective. Outside of struggle, outside of high school, I learned how much control I had. How I thrived in structure, found purpose in helping people. I became new, I became happy. The symptoms lessened. I still carried diagnosis but it became easy to manage once I knew how to share my space. I could recognize when I was slipping. I knew how to help myself and more importantly, I could reach out. I had built a safety net of support that kept me from the lonely battle with depression.
But the most important fact came from me doing it on my own. Years of hospitals and groups, a special school, and hours of therapy showed me the ropes. I had the tools I needed. But I built the life. I was out of therapy and off of medications when the most growth happened. I helped myself, it was my sweat and tears that made me stable. I remember the fight, the absolutely exhausting mental work that had to be done, but I did it all alone. I found what helped me and I stuck with it.
Now sitting in an unfamiliar waiting room I feel like I am taking a gigantic step backward. Back into the helpless years, I spent struggling. But I also know I have taken a real step back, I can still recognize behaviors but I have less ability to control them. I am having a hard time. I am slipping. There are days I don’t get out of my pajamas, there are days I start fights for no reason, there are times my heart rate doubles because I am anxious. I have lost some ground in my mental illness battle.
As I sit lamenting the loss of independence another fact hits me. I am here alone. I sought out help on my own. I made the phone calls, I researched the therapists, I made the appointment. I do not have a parent here holding my hand. I am signing all the paperwork by myself. The pride returns.
I am still mourning the loss of managing on my own, but I can recognize when I need support. That’s all therapy is; support, an extra boost to get me pointed in the right direction again. I have been through a lot in these years. It is natural for me to need an extra boost right now. There is more coping than ever, and I need help.