In my last post, I spoke about how I consulted a therapist only when I could barely function. In retrospect, I can see how that was a huge mistake. But it isn’t all my fault – as a society, we have been conditioned to deal with mental health issues by ourselves, if at all.
Up until last month, I used thought suppression to get through the day. What is thought suppression? It is exactly what it sounds like – whenever I thought something I didn’t want to think about, I forced my mind to abruptly think about anything else.
Guys, this is a negative coping mechanism. Please do not resort to it, no matter how much people advocate it. Which they do when they say stuff like “distract yourself” and “keep yourself busy”.
Anyway, while ‘denial mode’ did work for a little over a year, it couldn’t work forever, right? I started unraveling without even being aware of it. I was prescribed sleeping pills to fall asleep. My energy levels took a serious nosedive. I binge-watched TV shows to avoid crying and ruminating.
In my desperate bid to avoid confronting my thoughts and feelings, I ended up being trapped by them.
Finally, my depression crescendoed to a point where waking up every morning felt like the hardest thing EVER. And on one particularly gruesome day, I tried to end it all. Luckily, there was an intervention and I was safe from harm.I realized I had two options: I could go on living in denial and let my mental and physical health deteriorate till I lost myself completely. Or I could get the help of a mental health professional. Click To Tweet
I chose the latter because if I was going to be here on earth, I might as well try to improve my quality of life.
So how has therapy changed me? This is the part where you’d expect me to blather on about how it turned my life around. Well, no. It isn’t magic or a quick fix. The whole thing is fairly new and I’m still a work in progress. But now that I know my suffering is real and not imagined, I’ve significantly cut down on self-blame. It’s a huge relief to know that the way I am today is not because I am “negative”, “lazy”, or “have poor willpower”.
I know that my mind has dulled and slowed down because of this thing called brain fog.
It’s hard for me to feel motivated enough to get things done – I feel that there’s no point and I often feel drained. I struggle to eat properly because my appetite has basically disappeared. I could go on for a while, but you get the gist. Getting a proper diagnosis has made me see what is out of my hands and what I can learn to control.
As bad as things are, I know I am lucky to be able to rely on someone who is not only empathetic but is also helping me figure out how to heal and move forward. I am slowly finding the strength to make some effort to maintain a routine. No matter how hard it is. For example, this post took me three days to write (as opposed to my past ability to put out two reasonably good articles per day), but I powered through somehow. I figured that writing something and hating it was better than giving up without even trying. So I hit publish even though I wasn’t satisfied with the final draft.
Now before you yell ‘privilege’, I know that not everyone can access a professional in person.
But that doesn’t mean you have to grin and bear your pain in silence. Just like every other thing these days, therapy is available online as well. If you cannot afford that, there are free therapy chatbots like Wysa that do a reasonably good job. They are gaining popularity worldwide, and even us ‘let’s invalidate and ignore mental health like it doesn’t exist’ Indians are using them these days.
Rest assured, therapy will not make you depend on someone for solving your problems. On the contrary, it will give you the tools you need to make your existence easier. If you want to take back control of your life, seeing someone who is licensed to diagnose and treat you will help you do just that.
If you are still not convinced you need therapy, note that just like physical health, mental health is also a spectrum. To prevent it from worsening, you need to take care of it even if things get just a little bad. Dealing with whatever is troubling your mind is the only way to move from struggling to healthy.
TL;DR If you ignore your mental health issues now, they will not go away. Instead, they will probably escalate over time. So stop trying to climb out of that black hole all by yourself and seek help in whatever way you can.
8 Reasons Your Friends (and Twitter) Should Never Replace Therapy
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7 Surprising Signs You Need Therapy (Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That)