I have taken awhile to write this post, there are things in here I have never told anyone, there are issues I have to confront, and there are a few things that I try my hardest to avoid, but I think now, at least for a few moments, it is time to stop running.
I have spent a good deal of my life being looked over, replaced, ignored, recycled, ditched, invisible. It’s not necessarily everyone else’s fault either, I stand in the background and when someone is doing something like ignoring my presence or looking me over I don’t speak up. I realize a great deal of my invisibility is also my perception, I understand most of the people in my life are actually good people who at the end of the day do like me, but it’s hard to remind myself of that when someone is bailing on a trip with me so they can go with other people and they are making these plans right in front of me. It is hard to interject myself and be seen when I get social anxiety to the point that I consider what I may say and then contemplate if I should say it for a solid 2 minutes, at which time the conversation has already moved on to new topics. It is hard to be seen when deep inside yourself a voice says there is nothing to see here anyway.
Days like these are hard because they force me to look in on myself, to reflect on my feelings and thoughts, a thing I honestly avoid doing, just ask me what my opinion is sometime. It is also hard to get help. Mental health, emotions, depression, all of these things are stigmatized. I am conditioned to think I am not depressed but lazy, to think that this offense is nothing and I am overreacting, to think that others have more to say so listen. I will admit I have gone to therapy before, there was a time in my life at which, for no reason at all, I just stopped. I went to my universities counseling center and even there I came upon two very different, opposing, and rigid opinions.
I had an initial intake with a therapist who would probably not be my long term therapist. After talking with him for a while about work, school, relationships, and my parents, he concluded by giving me some pamphlets and giving me his rough opinion, simply put, he thought I was depressed. He asked me what I thought about that, and to this day it still baffles and disgusts me that I pretended I was surprised, I knew I was depressed, that’s the whole reason I went! But in that moment I realized how profoundly stigmatized depression is, that my immediate social response was to pretend that depression couldn’t be the answer for me.
A few weeks later I had my first appointment with my therapist, at this point I had already been trying to do a lot of “self-care” I had quit my job and found a new one, it was Christmas break so there were no classes to get in the way, I was trying to be conscientious of myself and emotions, and I was making an effort to go and hang out with the few friends I had. I was better. (I should take a moment here to mention that this was not the first time a “depression spout” had happened either, this was just the most impactful on my daily living.) I visited with this therapist about 5 or 6 times over Christmas break and the beginning of the Spring term, and one day when I had mentioned that I thought my problem had been depression she disagreed. She thought I was just fine, maybe a little stressed, and after only a few sessions she already thought we had tackled everything I needed to face, but the truth is I should have said we were far from done.
How can two therapists of similar backgrounds and training with about the same information come to such different conclusions? Part of this I think is a difference in orientation, each therapist has their own slightly varied beliefs as to how to diagnose and treat patients, some people believe in medicine, otherwise therapy only and this difference is only one example. Regardless the theme of therapy is the same but the way each person goes about it is a little bit different. But also as a Psychology student I have noticed that there seems to be two different ways in which depression specifically is approached. There are those who treat depression as a permanent diagnosis, it is like they believe a person always has depression, sure they can work at it, to live with it, to decrease symptoms, but it will always be a part of you, like cancer, I believe this was more of the ideology of my second therapist. There are also those that treat a depression diagnosis like a cold, something that literally everyone on earth will have at some point and to some degree in their life. And they treat it accordingly, they give you things to change the situation right now and make you better, but just like a cold, you don’t usually ever have just one in your lifetime, so they teach you how to watch for the symptoms and steps to take to decrease the amount of time that you are sick, and I think this was closer to the way my first therapist approached it.
Wow, now that I have started writing there is so much to say, I think I’ll save the rest for another day though. There are so many more topics I need to face, so for a little while my posts might feel a little different as I try to self care for a bit, I’ll still keep you updated on my travels though.