I am mostly writing this for myself. However, this is also for the people who are still struggling despite doing everything right. We may be struggling, but we are not failing.
Very little time has passed, but it seems like It has been a lifetime
since I have felt nothing.
For nine months, I have breathed, laughed, and lived in a way that I didn’t know was possible.
I never knew I could live a life that didn’t include an engulfing sadness.
Who knew there was a version of me who desired more than just sleep?
A woman who isn’t perpetually tired,
A woman who doesn’t isolate herself,
A woman who doesn’t repress her emotions in the name of strength,
A woman who calls her disorder by its name.
I was steps away from the deep end.
Every second of every day I waited patiently for something to push me overboard.
I’m so grateful I learned how to swim.
I was warring with my mind,
Wondering if I could ever be her.
A woman who breathes again,
A woman who sings again,
A woman who loves talks and smiles with ease again.
Look at me, being her.
And although sometimes I still fight my mind to stay present in my body,
I am so grateful for these past nine months.
I have always heard that mental health journeys are more like winding roads rather than linear paths. That is very comforting to hear, but it’s a difficult truth to acknowledge amid one of those detours. One year and six months ago, I committed to the healing aspect of my mental health journey, which includes both therapy and medication.
I entered this aspect of my life with so much uncertainty. I didn’t know what to anticipate. From a very young age, depression has been my baseline. I have lived my whole life with sorrow so severe that I would describe it as missing God. I perceived my sadness as God-sized. I experienced an emptiness that was so profound that I could only compare it to missing a deity. I hope that gives some insight into why my expectations for this journey were so limited. I am not exaggerating when I say that I never knew I would have access to the peace and relief that I have now.
This was honestly my last-ditch effort at surviving and I am extremely grateful to be on this journey. Now, I simply did exactly what research suggests that you do when you find yourself with untreated disorders. The best treatment for Major Depressive Disorder and ADHD is a combination of medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy. I have done just that. I also have an amazing team of practitioners who continue to respond accordingly and compassionately to my self-advocacy.
I tend to tell myself that I fell into the right hands at the right time, but that is only partially true. I cannot express how much gratitude I have for the Nurse Practitioner who essentially held my hand at the beginning of this journey. Our paths did cross at a perfect time. However, from that point on I have done all the heavy lifting.
I looked into the backgrounds of all the therapists and psychiatrists I was considering.
I researched medications before deciding on the most effective option to take.
I committed to writing down and discussing the big hitter topics in therapy.
I performed a case -study on myself and advocated for a formal diagnosis for a condition I knew I was struggling with. I did the work.
A year and a half later, I am still doing the work yet I haven’t figured out exactly what works best for managing my depression and ADHD. This is what they are talking about when they say mental health journeys are winding roads and not linear paths. I have had rare-negative reactions to both antidepressants I have tried thus far and I only recently discovered an effective dosage for my ADHD medication. Over the past six weeks, there have been several distressing moments where it felt like my body was rejecting what my brain needed. What I needed. It has been exhausting.
But then I stumbled across a note that I wrote nine months into this journey and remembered that I am far from where I used to be. I remembered that with the right medication, I can feel like a whole person again. I remembered that I am still doing the work and because of that, I will be myself again.
My therapist, whom I greatly appreciate, has also noted how I am committed to doing the work. So much so that she believes I am ready to graduate from therapy for the time being. I have to say, I knew this day would come but I did not anticipate how easily I would accept this. All I know is that I feel ready. Even while I am on this detour in my journey, the skills I have learned in therapy have allowed me to persist. These skills have allowed me to feel my emotions and adjust to my circumstances.
I am just as proud about graduating from therapy as I am proud about graduating with my Master of Occupational Therapy. Two chapters closing at one time: both the stepping stone for the beginning of the rest of my life.