Going Back To Therapy
Depression is a bitch!
Depression, coupled with chronic pain and trauma is an often-unbearable bitch. And I try really hard to manage it, and I’ve been doing an okay-ish job. I’ve been addressing my CPTS(D) head on. I’ve been managing my anxiety. My depression has been much less than usual, and I know all the things to do to nip that (more or less) in the bud when it does flare up. But there’s a funny thing I’ve noticed, specifically when it comes to trauma. The more healing you do, the more stuff starts to come up. The deeper, darker, more sinister things that your brain has buried away because it was just too much to even acknowledge.
As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, my friend Austin pointed out that Complex PTS(D) is kind of a super power. It forms because you went through things FOR YEARS (or, you know, a couple of decades) that were so severe that your brain was just like “holy shit, we’re gonna die,” so it found ways to protect you from it. Which is badass as fuck in the moment, but once you’re out of the situation, it’s time to turn that feature off. But there’s no off switch. And that’s where the trouble arises. That’s where I am. Trying to hack my brain like a computer and write some neuro-code to create an off switch.
So, that deeper stuff coming up is where I’m at now. I hit a nice plateau back in the late fall/early winter where I was doing pretty well, kinda. I mean, relatively speaking, at least. I went through some hard stuff and dealt with some situational depression, but as situational things do, they passed, and I kept on keeping on. Some really good things happened, and I enjoyed them immensely! But then a month or so ago, the night terrors started again, out of the blue and on a day that had been really amazing and uplifting and not at all triggering. They only happened for a week or so, but trust me, that’s more than enough. And some really dark, awful stuff started coming to the surface after that. And I thought “what the holy hell?!” and I cried a lot and tried to talk myself out of believing my own mind and went down a really bad PTS(D) spiral and felt my world slipping out from under me in a lot of very real-feeling ways. This is the kind of stuff that no one should ever have to think about much less live through, then have to re-live over and over decades later. And I honestly didn’t know what to do with the information, so I did what I always do. Kept quiet and mused over it for weeks, months. Let it kick around my brain pan for a while. And even though for most things that’s not a problem, and can even be good… for horrifically traumatic events, this is a bad, bad plan.
All of this new stuff, on top of the remnants of the old, coupled with the physical pain (which makes mental health so much more challenging), and I just was 100% overwhelmed. I talked to those closest to me a little about some of the milder aspects that were coming up. I talked to my girlfriend about some of the really heavy shit, but surface level heavy shit, if that makes sense. Everyone in my life is going through stuff, have their own struggles. I feel so guilty about adding to their burdens with even little doses of my garbage. Which, yes, I know is ridiculous in some ways. But shush.
Once a month I facilitate and co-host a CPTS(D) support group at my office. We have a handful or so of members (this is a hard thing to get together and talk about, trust me!). Sunday was one of these sessions. And I did some talking, but didn’t really get into my own stuff that much, not deeply at least, but rather mostly talked about techniques and validation, and so on and so on. But between my own inner monologue, and listening to everyone else, I left feeling how I usually leave feeling… amazing, uplifted, so happy I can create such a safe and supportive space, but also keenly aware of my own traumas and pains that aren’t healed yet. And that’s okay. This is a journey, and often times by bringing our pain and struggles into the light (especially a light filled with kind, understanding people), we begin to heal. But this time I realized something different. While I am doing admirably on my own, this is just too much. Too much to handle on my own. I need help. I need to go back to therapy.
So that afternoon I got on the interwebs and googled around for a while looking for therapists in my area, who take my insurance, and who specifically work with PTSD. I found a woman who’s actually just down the road from me who seems like an amazing fit. I was nervous, but I made the phone call and I scheduled an appointment with her. As I think I’ve written about before, I’ve been in therapy of one variety or another off-and-on since I was like 6 or 7 years old. So in some senses you’d think going back to therapy wouldn’t be a big deal. Easy even. And, I mean, it’s not, and it is. I tell everyone to go to therapy. I LOVE THERAPY! But also it’s really fucking hard to sit down with yet another stranger and lay out all the gory details of your life. All your questionable decisions. Everything bad that happened. The healthy (and super unhealthy) ways you cope. The intimate nature of your relationships. The intimate nature of the relationship you have with yourself, and hope they’re actually the right fit and that you don’t have to start the whole process all over again with someone else. It’s a lot! It’s good, but it’s so much. And I’m really tired, and my heart hurts, and I just want to feel better.
So I took the steps, made the call, and this Friday I am going to see my new therapist. And hopefully she’s as good of a fit as she sounded on the phone. And hopefully my insurance doesn’t try to fight me. And hopefully I can use buzzy-tappy hand devices, talking, and making incredibly inappropriate jokes about my pain to start to really get to the root of all this bullshit. Because, you know what? I deserve better. I fucking deserve not to relive all those events over and over and over every day in the back of my brain. And my partners, and friends, and loved ones, and the strangers I pass on the street who have to deal with my resting bitch face deserve that, too! So here we go. Off on yet another journey of healing. I’m so ready! Also I’m scared. But mostly I’m so goddamn ready to be the best, least tortured me I can be! Because, like I said above — and by the way, it’s a really hard thing for me to say, and even more, to believe — I deserve to be able to let go of this. I deserve happiness, health, and freedom from what others have done to me. I deserve not to have to carry that around for the rest of my life, letting it ruin everything beautiful I come across. I deserve this healing, and I’m embracing it!
[insert ramble about how therapy doesn’t make you weak, and how it doesn’t make you broken, and how it’s amazing, and the strongest, bravest, most loving thing you can do, here]