It happened this past Fall. I was in the middle of a regular appointment with a clinical professional (read: my monthly appointment with a therapist) and she had the nerve to blatantly ask me if I thought I was depressed.
Well… I don’t know… Why are you asking me? Aren’t you the professional? Shouldn’t you know?
I blew it off. There’s no way. I’ve been in darker places. I’m a tough cookie. I’ve been through tougher times.
Truth was, it had been a pretty tough year. Well years. Or something…
Then, in the middle of the winter during said regular meeting at the bar, I mean my therapist’s office, she had the nerve to ask me again if I thought I was depressed!
I mean, come on! Are we playing this game again? I’m here so you can tell me that.
So I went home and stewed over this silly, silly question. Why would she ask me again? Why? Why? Why? So, I did what any normal person would do.
I went to WebMD.
There in internet black and white words…it told me. There were the signs. The indicators. The red flags. The several boxes I checked that indicated I was…depressed? Maaaaaaan. How did I get here? What the heck happened? I KNOW the signs. Why would I deny it to myself? I’ve taken Psychology 101, people! I have been told by other medical professionals what the possible indicators could be. I had struggled with the same things in high school and college. I immediately and very much to my style started taking notes. I wrote down everything I wanted to fix. Everything. I was convinced there was something wrong with me. I took these notes and print outs to my next appointment. I showed up like a crazy lady (pun intended) with printouts, highlighted items, paragraphs and scribbled notes. I told her, the clinical professional, that there was something wrong that I kept “falling back” into these sad places. I couldn’t seem to get the words out quick enough or explain to her clearly enough that this “thing” that was wrong with me could be fixed and I wanted to start now. Now. Now. Now.
And you know what? She had the nerve to say something blatant again.
She told me there was nothing wrong with me.
I mean, what? Then why the heck would you ask me if I was depressed? Why would put that little bit of information in my little noggin’ so I could think about it? Why would you let me think about it all the way until the next appointment so I could analyze my behavior or reactions and see if I exhibit any of the indicators….oooooohhhh. Oh. I see what you did there. Smart, Ms. Clinical Professional. Very smart. You think you know me or something? You got me.
I was both equally relieved and enraged that there was nothing wrong with me. It would have been way easier if there was a fix. I mean, just tell me this little drill I should do before bedtime and I’ll magically feel better about myself, okay?
But unfortunately mental health isn’t that easy. The truth was, I sought out help because I felt incredibly lost. Looking back, perhaps it was a perfect storm of sorts: Take away 1 job and add in 1 career change, plus a few jobs that have had frustratingly nothing to do with said career change. Be sure to hold tight during this process as you’ll remain in a holding pattern while your amazing Main Squeeze waits to hear back from medical schools for at least 2 years. Blend in some taunting by interviews that never panned out. Mix in the death of your grandmother. Calculate the amount you’ve spent on attending everyone’s wonderful life celebrations (scratch that, don’t do that). Kneed in the constant reminder that you’re choosing a different path from most (read: all) of your social surroundings and then weep for your sad, empty uterus. Now top it off with some Suzy Sunshine sprinkles so people can’t see you’re confused because no one likes a Debbie Downer. Throw it in the oven for 3 years. Leave on a cooling rack and then enjoy the taste of losing your mojo.
I was struggling.
Even after we found out that My Main Squeeze was accepted to medical school, I put myself on trial for not doing more by now. It was tough for me to understand that I could be a happy person and at the same time be utterly lost and sad about where I was. I took a break from writing (here) too – something I loved. A few keen girlfriends in my life had already spotted the change in me. My Main Squeeze surely had. Bless his patient, kind soul. So I decided to go to therapy and I’m working to get that stride back in my step. And you know, what? I’m happy to say I’m well on my way, if not already there! I have a confidence that I haven’t had in years that I am enough and my path is mine alone. I was given some tools to help with the self-doubt and negative talk that left me unable to make a decision or wish I didn’t have to. For some people those tools are medication provided by their medical professional. For others its alcohol. For me, it was a combination of talking about it, reading about it and working through it. Sometimes going for a run or a nice long walk too… Each person has a different path of coping. Mine, sadly, did not require medication or alcohol. Damn the man.
I confided in a few special girlfriends about seeing a therapist and revealed what she pinpointed about me. To this day I still find some of their reactions interesting. A few never spoke of it again with me. I was typically a constant cheerleader, and perhaps this new revelation about me put them in a different, awkward position. But most surprised me, both near and far friends. They shared very similar stories. Very similar fears. I heard about almost identical paths in therapy. We laughed about the stigmas associated with counselors, anti-depressants and how tough Italians don’t do therapy.
What? You didn’t see the last episode of the Real Housewives of New Jersey?
There’s something to be said about the mantra: a key to a great relationship with your significant other is having great girlfriends. Thanks to those of you. You were my comfort in a time of confusion.
I realize that there’s an inherent risk to sharing that I’ve been to therapy. There’s an immediate judgment by some. I think I’ve learned enough from my journey though that their judgment won’t define my path. I wanted to share these struggles because it would have been comforting to know I wasn’t alone in questioning them. Sometimes all it takes is knowing that you’re not alone.
I know exactly what you’re thinking now. This is precisely what happens when Oprah’s show has been off the air for a year.
Now what about you? Would love for you to share any thoughts or comments in that hand-dandy reply section below!