I’m Okay. Why Do I Still Seek Therapy?

I can go into public places without fearing something will happen to my children or me. This is tremendous progress. Yesterday I went into a clothing store alone.

I thought about leaving when the checkout line was long, but I was determined to stay and see the process through. Lines make me feel trapped, though it’s gotten better, the feeling is still there. Instead of leaving, I circled the store and waited for the line to go down. I had a goal and goddammit I was going to stick with it. I didn’t turn away from the end result, which was to buy what I had in my hand: four shirts and one pair of shorts.

My head didn’t rush, my heart didn’t beat out of my chest, my vision stayed normal, the panic stayed away. A year ago, I never would have been able to do this. And there were times I didn’t think I would ever be able to. Strings attached to me everywhere, by personal choice. This day, however, I was fine.

In fact, I’d had a lot of fine days. It had been going so well that I considered stopping my therapy sessions altogether. Isn’t that what we do though? Once we feel good, we back off of what’s been supporting us. I think it’s human nature to do so, sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t.

When I left my therapist and told I’d let her know in a month if I needed to come back, I thought I’d walk away for good. Then thirty days slid by painfully slow. I missed my chance to vent and let my words fly without shame.

Sometimes big news came from small conversations. A day I had nothing to discuss would lead to a significant discovery. The chance for this would be gone if I didn’t continue.

I went back after thirty days, and I told her I missed coming here, so we agreed to every 3-4 weeks depending on my schedule. I’ve held this now for a few months and here’s what I’ve learned.

  • I have new goals to push toward.
  • I can truly recognize how far I’ve come and the life I’ve taken back.
  • There’s a comfort to having a familiar, someone I know will listen.
  • It has given me a chance to explore areas I didn’t realize needed attention.

street-art-2044085_640.jpgTherapy is one of the things that I have done to regain my life. I am stronger now, I’m not sure I’ll ever be “healed,” but I can do almost everything I used to before anxiety crippled my life.

Sometimes I hear people smugly suggest that therapy isn’t working if you have to keep going. Well, who are they to tout about something they don’t understand. I’m not doing myself any harm by continuing, in fact, it pushes me to take control and prepare myself for harder days that are unquestionably in my future. Life can’t be full of rainbows and sunshine all the time.

Therapy has been one of the many factors I use to battle/overcome/work with anxiety. It took several tries to find a therapist I trust, so if you find one that’s not fitting you, don’t be scared to try again. For me, it has worked to have continual checkups. I have no plan on stopping, even if I decide to decrease to once every other month, a therapist on hand provides me with the outlet I need.

 

Melisa Peterson Lewis is a lifestyle blogger at Fingers to Sky where she writes about her personal wellbeing, gardening, and her writing process as she tackles her first sci-fi novel. Check her out on Instagram or Facebook.

Images from Pixabay.

Always keep fighting!

Seeking Help in a Non-Crisis Situation

Update: I wanted to repost this because I feel it is still important  to talk about seeking help. In the road to recovery seeking help is just as important to self-care.

It is always important to seek help in a crisis situation. If you are feeling suicidal or having suicidal ideations, then it is imperative to seek help. That means going to the emergency room and talking to your psychiatrist or therapist. Suicide is a serious thing, and if you have followed The Bipolar Writer you know I am against suicide. If my experience has taught me anything, it is that suicide is not the answer.

With that said. I want to talk about what to do in a non-crisis situation.

What You Should You Do?

If you have concluded that there is no life or death situation for you or someone you love, but they need help. Then you should seek help. But what does that mean? Insurance is an important part of the equation. After my first suicide attempt, I had no insurance. It was clear that it meant that I would not be able to get help without insurance. I was lucky to have a mom that fought to get me into the system of behavioral health without insurance. But it isn’t always so and it was only because my situation was bad.

It’s the worst thing when people tell you that you can’t get help because you have a pre-existing condition. (But that’s for another blog post.)

One of the first things you need to do is check to see what your insurance allows. You should check with your state or county facilities and see what services they provide. Insurance is important and I found out in 2014 that when you have insurance, you can get more services. If you can find outside private services it’s important to know what you need.

I am speaking from my experience living in California. I am also talking in the context of my local system of behavioral health. For me, my psychiatrist is to maintain my medications. We talk about what is working and discuss what changes my psychiatrist want’s to make. I saw one private psychiatrist before my first suicide attempt and my experience was the same. With my psychiatrist monitors how my medication is affecting me through blood tests.

When it comes to my therapist she acts as both my therapist and my case manager. We work on my issues with therapy and CBT, but she also helps me with things like seeking social security. Recently I asked her to help me with an anxiety dog (which I still have no idea what to do with that. On a side note if you know anything about it I could use the help.) With my therapist, we work on things like CBT and things with my depression and social anxiety.

I also have a general practitioner doctor that helps me with my other issues. She helps monitor my other issues like insomnia and the fact that I am a borderline diabetic. (So she says). All together my team helps me throughout the year.

In my mind, it is important to be comfortable with your team. If you have a psychiatrist that you don’t trust, nothing will feel right. I have had issues over the years with this, but I have fewer choices because I am with the local behavior health. At this moment I am happy with my team. Find what works for you when it comes to your mental health professionals.

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What to do When Talking to a Professional

Always be honest with your mental health providers even in a non-crisis situation. I can’t stress this enough. I can’t believe the number of times that I let things go. More recently my social anxiety over the last few years. I let it get to the worst possible situations before I started to talk about it.

A non-crisis situation can turn into a life or death situation. I wanted to write this post because so on recently asked me what to do when your situation isn’t dire. If you are feeling anxious or depressed and it is your first time seeking help, don’t be afraid. Never be afraid.

I hope this helps and if you need more information do some research. I know in my local behavior health they have a 24/7 crisis team. You can call a suicide hotline or find a char group. You can always ask me, I am a wealth of information through experience.

Always Keep Fighting.

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit:

unsplash-logoNeONBRAND

unsplash-logoSaksham Gangwar

Reconciliation

Reconciliation

I’ve entered a stage in my relationship where we are working on reconciliation. Wow, that is a tough word. It’s long, hard to spell, and extremely difficult to do.

Where do you begin? How do you start when you decide you want to reconcile with your significant other? Do you start over? Should you continue from where you are and try to work through all of the past issues? What about getting some help? So many hard questions to answer before you can even start.

Reconciliation STEP 1

For me, I realized the first place I needed to start was me. Yes, me. I knew I had a lot of things about myself I needed to change if there was any hope of this working. It wouldn’t be right to expect my spouse to change if I wasn’t willing to look at myself and see what my faults were.

Reconciliation STEP 2

The second thing you need the most in order for reconciliation to work is…….not love. Yes I meant to say that. Love is a feeling, and it changes. I may love my husband, but that isn’t always going to be enough. The thing you need is commitment. That ‘sticktoitiveness’ that’s required so you don’t give up when the going gets impossible. If you don’t have the commitment to stay the course til the end, then it isn’t going to work. Above all else, YOU have to CHOOSE to be committed, no matter what.

Reconciliation STEP 3

Third, you need to worry about you, not them. Change yourself, not your significant other. If you are both in it together, they will take care of their issues, while you take care of yours. Once you feel you are both at a point that the other agrees the changes are genuine, then you can start working on your relationship as a couple. If you aren’t ready as an individual, you can’t be ready as a couple. Change you, and that will go a long ways in helping fix the relationship.

Reconciliation STEP 4

Fourth, in my own life, I believe that having faith in a higher power, in my case, God, will also be a necessary part of reconciliation. I firmly believe that saving a relationship that has so much past baggage of hurts and failures will not work without help from something you believe in that’s bigger than you. I know that without God we would not stand a chance.

Reconciliation STEP 5

Lastly, counsel counsel counsel! Get help. Obviously doing it alone already didn’t work. Get a third party experienced in this area to help you. Having a trained outside person to help you understand one another and to guide you through the process in unbelievably important. If you can’t afford to pay for it, find a local church, and almost always they will have someone that can counsel you for free. You can’t do it alone. You need that third person that is uninvolved and can see things from an outside perspective, and will be able to help explain to you what you are doing, how you are doing it, how to change it, etc.

Reconciliation is HARD no matter how you look at it. It takes a very long time, a lot of patience, and absolute commitment. If you truly love the person, and want to be with them (and it is mutual), then don’t expect a quick fix. The harder you work and the more you overcome, the better your relationship will be in the end.

That’s my $.02 worth for the day. I wish you all the best in your journey to reconcile. It isn’t easy, but it’s worth it in the end if it is what you both desire. Good luck!

Kilee

http://www.kileegoecke.blog

Photo Credit: unsplash-logoRyan Graybill

The Reasons Why I Avoided Therapy

The summer of 1996 is when my anxiety first started to take its grip. My sudden erratic emotional state was the first sign that something was changing inside of me. Before anxiety started to rule my life I was a relatively steady person, and I enjoyed the unpredictability of life. This all changed drastically in what seemed like a very short time. I began to fear anything that was unknown or out of my control. When my first panic attack struck, I tried to make sense of it. Then it became obvious that it wasn’t the bong hits or the cheap beer I was drinking; it was, in fact, my body turning against me.

The next few months were some of the hardest in my life. Almost every other day I was having a panic attack and I couldn’t figure out why they were happening. I remember talking myself out of a panic attack when I was sitting at the dinner table with my family one evening. My mom, dad, sisters, and the family dog underfoot was nothing out of the ordinary.  In my head I screamed at myself: I questioned what was the matter with me. I forced myself to breathe normally and tried to focus. My family and I were always close – how could they suddenly feel alien to me?

I chose to suffer in silence for 15 years. The past 5 years I have been battling my anxiety off and on, but nothing compares to my current commitment level. Today I am with a therapist, receive regular acupuncture, and have found healthier ways to release tension. There is still a long way to go, but I’m climbing out of this hole. I think my reasons for avoiding a therapist for so long were:

  1. There wasn’t really anything wrong with me. I know how this sounds. Normal people don’t have panic attacks almost every day. But I had closed myself off from talking about my situation with anyone, which left me with no one to relate to or to guide me. I convinced myself it wasn’t that bad.
  2. Excuses, excuses. This was a coming-of-age situation: everyone has probably gone through it. “If I took better care of myself I wouldn’t feel this way.” Or maybe, “It will go away in time.” I continued to play a hundred reasons over in my head to defend my anxiety.
  3. I was unsure where to go. My anxiety began in the 90’s, so the internet wasn’t what we have today and researching my options was difficult.  In recent years, I have struggled to find the right type of therapist. I ended up finding my current therapist through a post-partum online hotline.
  4. I felt safe in my world. I frequented the same places and sought out the same faces. By doing so I was able to avoid panic attack triggers. As a result, I convinced myself that I had overcome my anxiety.
  5. I was deeply ashamed of the anxiety and panic attacks that were a part of my life. If I’m being honest, I still feel this way today. I’m not sure how to get through this feeling. Though I was able to overcome my resistance to therapy, shame still prevents me from making progress and opening up to my therapist.
  6. Modern medicine had not been my friend. I had a several bad experiences with doctors, leaving me to fear any medical practice, including counselors and therapists. The more natural route was intriguing and with time I did find comfort in acupuncture and yoga.
  7. It was hard to find someone in-network who accepted my insurance.  Then, when I didn’t have insurance, the expense was insurmountable.
  8. I placed the blame on others. I attached blame to anyone who had done me wrong in the past. I faulted teachers, friends, boyfriends, parents, doctors… even the news: my list was endless. Some may have been relevant, but I have come to realize that this is how I’ve trained my brain to react. There is no blame on anyone and I have come to realize I can’t blame myself either.

While this list is not all-encompassing, it does flesh out the main reasons I did not seek therapy for so many years. It took me several therapists before I found the one I felt a connection with. Therapy is only one of the many tools I am using to overcome my social anxiety, but it is the one that has helped the most in the shortest amount of time. In hindsight, I wish I had sought out help in my 20s when anxiety first took hold. Though if we stay caught up on the “what if” and “why” in life, we simply torture ourselves. I don’t have any desire to run in circles any longer.

Fingers To Sky