I have been in and out of talk therapy for quite some time.
I was made to go when I was younger.
Because, even at a young age, the darkness and doom engulfed my core being.
I was originally sent to talk to a middle aged woman named Judy.
I remember having to draw my feelings.
The appointment was made for me after I word vomited that I wanted to take the family car and drive it into a tree.
I just remember sitting on the floor in my room, bawling to my mother as she’s telling me that she cannot help me.
That I need to talk to someone.
I was thirteen years old.
Talk therapy has been a thing I do over the years because I know I should.
I know I have severe mental health issues.
I’m an emotional rollercoaster.
I hide all of my feelings from everyone.
If I really do therapy, put in an honest effort, a change in me and my behaviors is inevitable.
But, who would I turn into? How would I act?
It’s taken me years and years to let therapy help me.
The intensity of my emotions overtakes my entire body.
It’s difficult to know how to start explaining my coping skills to anyone.
I have trouble remembering.
I have trouble rationalizing what I can recall.
It leaves me overwhelmed and sad.
I’m filled to the brim with doom, and that’s difficult to articulate to anyone. Even if they are getting paid to hear it.
I’ve always known that it isn’t “normal” to have such constant, all encompassing, unprovoked and empty darkness.
This abnormality of thoughts has been very isolating.
Up until lately, no form of talk therapy had worked very well for me, or at all.
I didn’t understand how it helped, what it did exactly.
I didn’t understand how to productively verbalize my symptoms.
I thought therapy wasn’t working for me or making me better because I could never be better.
I figured all of the empty and strange changes of moods of mine were unavoidable.
Besides, my diagnoses will always be with me – I can’t be cured.
Talking about any of it just fed my desire to isolate.
No one actually wants to hear about my horrid thoughts.
Until a few years ago, I had spent my time with therapists talking about the same life story I tell everyone.
I’d skip over any details and dwell on the general, loud monologue I’ve rehearsed and perfected over the years.
I would talk about nothing. My day. The grocery store. My laundry. My current relationship. Work.
I kept it surface level for a very long time.
I would do anything to direct the conversation away from my deep rooted issues that make my heart and mind ache.
Staying superficial with mental health professionals was an attempt at self preservation – an attempt to keep my awful coping mechanisms and behaviors that I was finding so comforting.
It’s easy to do therapy this way, there’s never any real negativity that escapes.
It just changes positions or locations inside of me.
It leaves me in a state of comfortability.
This familiarity is an unbelievably toxic path though.
I remember thinking that the entire process of talk therapy was absolute bullshit.
It truly was bullshit for me until I opened myself up to the idea that there can be a different path in life, that I’m in charge, not the brutal and constant emotional turmoil.
I have been in so many therapy settings throughout my life, I cannot even recall them all.
I have been inpatient. I have been in IOP’s (Intensive Outpatient Programs). I have been to daily and weekly group sessions. I have done virtual visits. I have done phone visits.
Some therapists I stopped seeing or going to.
Some other professionals have dropped me as a patient for being “too much” (I have heard that phrase my entire life).
Some wanted me to go into the “why”.
But most of them wouldn’t start to dig into my core issues because I wouldn’t let them.
I have been amazing at deflecting my pain, misery, manic and psychotic tendencies.
I wasn’t even aware of the thickness of my armor until recently.
There are many, many types, or, styles of talk therapy.
I have been through several of them in attempts to unknot my darkness. Hoping one of these versions would actually help me cope properly.
I was in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for a six week program a few years ago.
I was taught that triggering and sensitive topics can be internally “put on a shelf”, to be dealt with at a later time.
It’s meant to be a system of dealing with issues when one is emotionally ready to, not necessarily when the issues surface.
It helps reduce my splitting behaviors.
It helps me not dwell in the ever present emotional turmoil.
It helps me organize how I need to respond so I don’t react.
I believe that “shelving” issues is crucial for my survival and overall mental health.
However, it can quickly become an entire storage room and attic of unprocessed feelings and/or situations.
That’s where I found myself this last winter.
I had been deflecting and “shelving” everything that was surfacing.
Even the voices and delusions.
I realized that not confronting any of my “shelved” issues at all had created a serious black hole inside of me.
My issues were out in the open within me, painfully visible, boxed up and labeled.
All I could see were piles of avoidance.
None of the boxes had even been opened.
Most have collected dust.
The weight of my unprocessed issues ended up creating a painful amount of self awareness within me.
When my mind resurfaced post hallucinations, I had a sudden need to work through and past my assumed doomed fate.
It became either me or the “shelved” issues.
One of us had to figure out how to coexist with the other, otherwise neither would survive.
Through all of the appointments, all of the hours sitting on an oversized chair, or couch, I can usually now actively participate in my therapy sessions.
It has taken most of my life to learn how to start expressing myself – I am only at the tip of the iceberg now.
I couldn’t receive help from anyone until I was willing to.
A couple of years ago I worked with an EMDR therapist, Molly.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a type of therapy that helps to overcome traumas that are buried deep within the mind.
It helps stop the replaying.
While seeing Molly, I was not emotionally ready to do a full blown EMDR session, so instead, she used a type of guided meditation on me.
I had to dig into my extremely painful areas because I was absolutely aware of my lost sense of self at that point in my life.
This session, I thought, would be absolutely useless, just like all the others.
I thought there was no way that any sort of guided meditation would tell anyone anything about me.
I have never been so grateful to be so wrong. .
In forty minutes both Molly and I realized that my disassociation issues are very real.
I was introduced to some of the fragments of myself that protect and defend me.
It was beyond surreal.
That was the very first time I acknowledged and understood that therapy could actually help me.
Not too far after that experience, Molly left the practice she was with and I had to find a new therapist, again.
At least I was very aware that I disassociate now – I am only a piece of my fragments.
However, I knew something was still very off with me at that time, and I had no idea what to call it.
My therapist after Molly would deny my delusions.
I would tell her that my neighbors were breaking into my apartment and stealing my things.
She would say they are not.
I would call her, terrified because groups of people were outside of my door talking about me and my actions inside my apartment.
She would say that there is no one there – that I was safe.
I didn’t understand because I didn’t feel safe.
My delusions told me that I was being watched.
I began opening up because I had to.
My life depended on it.
Having my truth and reality rejected by that therapist of mine,
time after time, day after day was absolutely terrifying.
I was confused and scared of my own mind, and still am.
That therapist never told or asked me if I was in psychosis.
I ended up in the hospital last January because of my mental health break and still didn’t know what to call my issues.
So, I was on my own until I met Hannah, who I see currently.
I’m currently in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with Hannah.
She’s very nice yet very direct.
She inquires and helps me try to explain my actions and thoughts.
I need someone who won’t let me be superficial.
I need a therapist that challenges my outlooks and behaviors.
Someone who’s non judgmental.
Surprisingly these attributes are kinda difficult to come across quickly. Sometimes I am with a therapist for a few months before I realize they don’t have any tools to help me.
A lot of therapists I’ve had are oddly rigid.
Some want a scheduled topic for the week and don’t want to stray from that..
Some want to give homework that I never do.
It’s hit or miss with finding any therapist, and it’s extremely frustrating when I feel like I’m failing at therapy.
Having the diagnoses that I do creates a protective wall around my mind.
I’ve locked myself in.
I’ve recently taken down a section of it and have created a door to ensure that I can step into and work through my issues as they surface.
Weekly one on one therapy helped me construct my door.
Without it I would have no idea how to cope with what I’ve been through, or how to prepare for what’s coming.
Therapy is a magnificent tool, when I’m met where I’m at.
However, the stigma of going to therapy is still very alive.
Therapy can be seen as something only defective people have to do..
As if a “normal” member of society doesn’t need to dissect their behaviors.
As if a “normal” person doesn’t need help processing feelings.
As if “normal” folks even exist.
Come to find out that therapy isn’t just diving head first into intense diagnoses.
It’s there as a constructive, healthy and private outlet for anyone who would like to better understand themselves.
It’s sitting on a small couch in a rented basement office and admitting that life is extremely difficult.
That I can’t do this shit by myself.
Seeing a therapist helps me work on my faults and poor coping skills in a healthy, non judgmental environment.
I’ve learned that I have to dive in and give talk therapy the space and time it needs.
Because then, maybe my doom driven mind will open up to new behaviors.