I know that many are waiting for the release of my memoir entitled The Bipolar Writer. There are so many things happening right now, and I am hopeful that I can be ready to publish by the end of 2018. With that said, I wanted to share a chapter today with my blog. I hope you enjoy!
How Therapy Changed My Life
I struggled in the years before I was able to receive help in the form of a therapist. I had to deal with my depression, anxiety, and even my social anxiety with no therapy. I got help with medications with my many psychiatrists over the course of my diagnosed life, but I never had someone to talk to about my problems. It made me self-conscious about talking the issues in my life related to my mental illness.
Since 2014, the first time I was eligible for more help from my local behavioral health department, I have found steady footing in therapy. It comes down to the right therapist at the right time. I was able to get a real therapist who understands who I am, and effectively, gets who I am. It changed my life because she found a way to make me open up for the first time since my diagnosis.
During the duration of the last ten years, I have only been in therapy for three of those years. I have been lucky so far to have only one therapist because when you are a part of the state system of behavioral health, you have to understand that there is a revolving door of people. Not being able to afford private therapy sessions is never fun.
One of the reasons therapy was never available to me was because of insurance. I didn’t have insurance until 2014. Obamacare changed the course of my diagnosis in very significant ways. I will write about that in another chapter of my memoir.
Getting health insurance for the first time changed the game for my diagnosis. For the first time, it was possible to get more help. It was no longer seeing my psychiatrist for medicine changes and refills. It was possible for the first time to talk about my issues. It opened up the possibility of writing being a part of my life again. Without opening up for the first time in my life in therapy, there would be no Bipolar Writer blog or memoir.
I have been a part of my local behavioral health system since 2007 after my first suicide attempt. I was skeptical the first time my psychiatrist told me that I would get a therapist in 2014 because I had lobbied for one for seven years with no luck. No insurance means the state only gives you the bare minimum of help.
Since my first (and my only one since 2007) psychiatrist left in 2012, it has bee a carousel of one psychiatrist—one right after another. I was never good at opening up about my life, and that was no different in 2014. I was content to deal with my issues on my own, but this was only made my matters worse in my life. I never thought that therapy would change anything, let alone actually be the catalyst that changed my life. It’s important to look at what caused my belief that dealing with my problems was just up to me.
My case was so bad in 2007 that my local behavior health department had no choice but to accept me to see a psychiatrist. If you have dealt with the “system,” you know that they will limit you at every corner when you don’t have insurance. It is the catch-22 when the classification on your life is having a “pre-existing” condition. It is funny because the government said I had this issue before I was diagnosed, and yet I didn’t know until I was diagnosed. It is that confusing. When I first applied for insurance from the state of California, they said my diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder was pre-existing. It made getting help at the state level almost impossible. At least until Obamacare.
Without therapy, I would never have found the strength to share my experiences with the world.
It was in therapy that I first found the strength to share my past and started to understand what was going on in my life. Up to this point, I had shared my history with my psychiatrists at some level, but never in depth as I did in therapy. It was slow and steady at first as I worked to get comfortable with my therapist. Over the months and what turned into years of favorable outcomes in therapy treatment changed my life.
My nature is always to share the least amount of my life. My therapist helped me get through some of the worst depression cycles of my life. We have worked hard in the last year in getting my anxiety in a better place. It’s not perfect, but that is because for years I never dealt with my problems.
Therapy means the world in my life, and for the first time, it meant having a steady presence in my life. I have in my therapist someone who understands when I am depressed, and I miss appointments. My therapist understands that during my long eight week college semesters I will stress out. She knows I will always put undue pressure to perfection in everything that I do in this life.
My therapist has helped me understand the perfectionist side of who I am. My therapist helped me see the little victories during my week can help relieve stress. Often, she tells me I am too hard on myself and that I always get good grades and complete my writing goals. I am my own worst enemy, but with therapy I can work through these issues.
It is vital to my mental health to work through my issues one session at the time. Three years ago it was impossible to talk about my past. I was never open to the idea of talking about my issues. I was happy to never deal with my problems. The truth, I was far from happy, and my problems were only getting worse.
It amazes me still that therapy has been such a difference in my life. It has helped me take my recovery to real life goals that I am always working towards and make them real. My last suicide attempt in 2010 was a significant step in the right direction, but as many years wondering in the darkness continued after my suicide attempt, it was never going to be easy to lift the fog. I found myself in going back to school, but there was always something missing. Therapy was the key to pushing myself to work on my mental health goals outside my life goals.
For so long I thought to work on my mental health was an impossible task. It no longer feels that way when I wake up each day. Seeing success in therapy changed the game for my mental health.
I still have to work at it each day, and this means keeping my depression at acceptable levels during the winter time. It’s becoming clear that no matter how much I plan, there will still be days that things don’t go right. Now I can accept this reality, and move on.
When I wake up in the morning with the feeling of not wanting to do “life,” I have coping skills. I give myself a break and only do things that make me happy like writing or reading a book. I pledge to do better the next day. I know what my limits are and walk away from what I am working on at that moment when reaching my limits. “Tomorrow is another day” is something I learned in therapy, and it has become my mantra. I was never good at letting go when life wasn’t perfect. I realized every day there is imperfection.
In the past, I would have waited weeks to call back my therapist. When it came to dealing with my depression, I always thought I had to deal. Now I usually call ahead if things beyond my control are keeping me from making an appointment. When depression got a hold of me, it would take weeks to get back to normal in the past. With therapy, I learned that depression means slow down. I do that, and now I bounce back better every time depression takes me down that road.
I don’t force myself to be productive in my life. I find the flow of each day and continue to grow. Knowing that we have limits in this life is essential. What drove me before was the need to make up all the years that I have lost since my diagnosis. I realize I can’t make up those years all at once. I need to find the flow of my writing. I need to be who I am, The Bipolar Writer.
A chapter in my memoir such as this one is so important for me to share with the world. I can’t emphasize the importance of how talking out your issues in therapy is what can change your life. I know from my blog that some people find group therapy helpful. If that is what helps you, make the decision go that route. Find a group that will help you work through the issues. It could be the most important to you to do both individual and group therapy. Find what works for you and go with it.
I know for some, it might be impossible right now to seek therapy. It could be the lack of insurance like it was for me, but don’t ever let that stop you. It can be a fight to get help, but it is worth the fight for every person living with a mental illness. There are resources out there that are free. Research is your best friend. If you are going through a terrible depression cycle, suicidal thoughts, or even anxiety there is hope. It is essential for you to seek help. The best thing you can do is to talk about your issues. Find someone that you trust to discuss your concerns with a close family member or friend.
If that doesn’t work, there are so many fabulous mental health blogs out there that you could talk to the blogger. Use a fictitious name if it’s easier to talk to others in the blogger mental illness community. I have found writing my blog under my pseudonym to be a way to tell my story without actually using my name, helpful. It can also be therapeutic.
If I have learned anything over the course of the last ten years, it’s this—when you hold on to your problems, it only makes it harder to recover from your issues.
I will end this with a plea to get help if you need it, and never be afraid that no one will understand.
Always Keep Fighting