My first round of therapy was a nightmare. I was 20 and trying to cope with ending a 3-year relationship and loss of our mutual friend group when I first visited the mental health part of my on-campus clinic. My assigned counselor was VERY focused on my previous relationship and not on the real issue. I was not distraught over my breakup, I was struggling with serious mental health issues. After two sessions she started canceling and rescheduling last-minute on me I told her to forget about it. I felt more alone with my depression and misunderstood than ever.
It wasn't until my second round of therapy several years later that I actually saw results. I was again in a dark place and needed help. It was actually my supervisor at the time that suggested I go. I had to miss several days of work and I eventually just gave her a brief explanation of what was wrong. She was a good boss and person in general. I took her advice.
Anyway, my second therapist was much better. She was an Irish woman about my mother's age. We got along very well. I think she saw a lot of herself in me that and she actually took the time to see me. She really saw me instead of projecting her opinions of me. Sometimes she would make suggestions or assumptions about me or what would be best for me, but when I disagreed she took my word at no, which is an amazing quality in a person. We need more people that take our objections and disagreements seriously. I'm not an easily persuaded person anyway. It is a waste of breath and frankly pisses me off when someone tries to push me their way when I've already dug my heels into the ground.
She looked me in the eyes on one of our first sessions and said: "you are much more adjusted than my other clients, I'm not sure why you're here." That was just the problem, I explained, I hold myself together too well when I'm actually falling apart. My behaviors driven by depressive episodes or anxiety are always seen as me being difficult or flaky. Many of my attempts to explain that I have depression and anxiety were met with eye rolls, which pushed me to suicidal thoughts all too often.
I first was able to identify how I was feeling when I was about 10 or 11. I suddenly realized that I was experiencing depression and approached my parents to go to therapy. They laughed and told me that everyone experienced what I was feeling. I was going into puberty and a lot of kids my age experience sadness. I went upstairs feeling defeated, went into my dark closet and closed the door. I used to sit in my closet with the lights off and pretend that I didn't exist anymore. This was a common coping tactic for me up until leaving for college. I think most depressed people can relate to the relief of laying in darkness.
The complete darkness and quiet helped soothe me when my thoughts became toxic and chaotic. I pondered the different methods of suicide from my closet floor and what would be the easiest option if the closet method ever lost its comforting touch. I thought about suicide pretty often up until seeing my therapist three years ago. I could never bring myself to do it, because I could never, no matter how much I was hurting at the time, do that to my mother. I knew it would hurt her and others that loved me. I hate to hurt people.
It wasn't until I left for college that my parents took my mental health issues more seriously. They would constantly worry that I was going to hurt myself. It never got to that point, but I did struggle with self-destructive behavior. I was in my 20's the first time I spoke honestly about my mental health with a friend. I hid it for a long time because I did not want to come off as unreliable or unpredictable. I feared I would be judged and abandoned.
It was the combination of therapy and my dog's support that helped me overcome suicidal thoughts. Honestly, my dog saved my life and I will always be grateful to her for it. I've learned to accept my mental illness and began openly talking about my mental health issues and something pretty awesome happened ... I realized a lot of other people experience depression, anxiety, and feeling pretty alone with their struggles. I actually got to help some people with my story and that felt really awesome.
Mental health issues are not always obvious. Anyone in your life could be contemplating suicide behind a closed door while she smiles and laughs throughout her day. The more we talk about mental health issues, the better. The less these problems isolate us and the more we can find connections. Healthy, positive contentions with others that have overcome the desire to end their lives. It's really important to talk about it and never assume someone's inner state based on their outward appearance.
As always, please feel free to reach out to me with any questions about my personal experience with depression and anxiety or for support with your own journey. Life is beautiful, but sometimes we cannot see that through the fog. Hang on no matter how hopeless you may be feeling, the fog will always clear.