A few days ago, my therapist told me that I am no longer considered clinically depressed.
I am a former depressive. I’m in remission. The medication and therapy is now only to prevent relapse.
I’ve been in therapy for exactly 11 months, on medication for 10. It’s been a long and exhausting journey, but a beautiful one. The ups and downs were, and still are, constant. But my monster is my friend now. Like a little child, he has his mood swings and some days he stomps and yells but that’s when I know that all he really wants is love. If I argue back, we won’t get anywhere and we’ll both be upset.
It’s almost scary in a way. My depression was a part of me for so long, and now I feel like I’m rediscovering who I am, or who I could be, without it. It’s so easy to slip into old habits when things aren’t great, and to think that I’m giving into it once again but that’s when I stop and reevaluate things. Mood swings are normal, everyone has them. Being sad doesn’t mean I’ve fallen into the pits of depression once again, it just means I’m human.
My therapist joked about how I will have to start creating happy images now, and I said “never!”
But I kept thinking about it, fearing that without my depression I wouldn’t be able to create something meaningful, something that people can relate to. Is this it for me? Or is this another door then I’m stepping into? I know that I will never stop creating. I need to create. Every fiber of my being feels the need to create meaningful work. Maybe it won’t be as dark as what I used to create, maybe it’ll be darker. The possibilities are endless and I’m so excited for what’s to come.
Here are five things I’ve learned throughout these 11 months of therapy, hopefully they’ll help someone make the decision to seek help.
1. Therapy works – if you let it.
I know there are a lot of people who are very skeptical about therapy. There are lots of different types of therapy. What I’m doing is called CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and it changed my life. CBT taught me how to deal with and treat my monster. But there were times where I was very resistant to it. I knew I wanted help, knew I needed it, but it just felt like too much work. Being aware of your thoughts and monitoring them 24/7 is exhausting.
2. Medication and therapy go hand in hand.
Trust me, if you take medication without going to therapy, there won’t be much change. And the change that might happen (maybe you sleep better with medication) won’t be worth the side effects that some medications cause. When I had to travel throughout the year and missed out on therapy sessions, I started feeling bad again despite being on medication.
3. Therapy is scary.
Sitting with a stranger and telling him or her your deepest, darkest secrets is one of the scariest things to do. Especially if you’re sometimes paranoid, because then you assume they’re judging you and they’re going to use everything you told them against you someday and your whole life will be over and you’ll lose all your friends and it’s almost like a Harriet The Spy kinda thing but on a more adult level. But that doesn’t happen and once you get over the fear and open up your heart, it is such a relief.
4. No one, and nothing, can help you if you don’t help yourself.
I learned that the hard way. I canceled sessions, made up excuses, and found myself in a dark place once again. No one’s going to force you to go to therapy or take your medication, especially if you’re doing this on your own. And even if you did have someone forcing you to do that, it just has to come from within. It has to be something you want with all your might.
5. People are more empathetic than you think.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know that I wear my heart on my sleeve. I talked about my depression so many times on my blog and I do it in person too. I’m not ashamed of it. There’s a stigma around it, for sure, but I found that when I tell people about it in person, so many have been very kind and empathetic. I think the fear of being judged or criticized or ridiculed is what causes so many people to go through this alone and suffer in silence. They shouldn’t. You shouldn’t.
Talk about it. Call up a friend and tell them how you feel. Get help. Go to therapy. Send me a message. Even if you want to be anonymous. I promise I’ll be there.
Please, just don’t suffer in silence.