Counseling and Therapy over Medications – Healing myself

September 6, 2017

Today was a tough day for me during my group counseling session.  After my last incident this past March, I now attend counseling with my therapist every other week and a group session with a Psychiatrist every week. 

After our session today I spoke with the doctor, who was managing our group because the therapist was out sick, about whether I was attending the right one.  I thought I was supposed to be in a core group focused on mindfulness and coping skills. The one I started with my therapist two weeks ago is about distress tolerance. The doctor realized that I was supposed to be in her group too and I was just never called.  So now I’m being placed into both starting next week.

It was weighing heavily on my thoughts after I left and was driving home.  All I could think about was “How did I end up here?” 

I started counseling sessions actually through a previous employer.  I was having trouble with getting to work on time and was absent quite a bit due to illnesses.  After speaking with the floor manager and supervisor they gave me information about an employee assistance program that provided 8 weeks of counseling sessions at no cost. 

Those sessions were so helpful with dealing with the raw emotions I was having while in the middle of the divorce process.  The absenteeism was partly due to the depression and anxiety but I also had a physical ailment that was causing vertigo which was discovered during this time period as well. This just became another part of the spiraling out of control that I was already in.

These initial counseling sessions were the first time that I actually allowed myself to discuss what I was feeling.  I would never actually be totally truthful about the way I felt when doctors would ask me about it before.  I wasn’t ready to face it yet.  I was afraid to face it.

Then in 2016, I had the second breakdown, hospitalized and started more counseling sessions but this time through the Veteran’s Affairs (VA) hospital.  This was the first time I actually let my thoughts or feelings out and faced them.  It was like opening a flood gate and I had no control over it.  Family, friends, and co-workers noticed the changes to my demeanor and behavior.  I felt constantly either way up or way down there was no longer a middle ground.  I was being viewed as erratic.

Then in March of this year, 2017, I had my last breakdown, hospitalized again and now faced, even more, counseling sessions.  During this whole process, I had always refused medications but this last episode made me rethink that and I let them place me on an antidepressant.  That was a terrible decision.

They say it takes quite a while to get used to them but the way they made me feel was interfering with just daily life interactions.  I was a walking zombie.  After two weeks I couldn’t stand it and stopped taking them.  I just knew there had to be a better way.

So I started exercising more, changing my diet and finding other ways to release the thoughts.  I started blogging more and finding other creative outlets.  All of this was helping to “distract” myself from those moments or waves of anxiety that would heighten the depression.  It is a coping skill.

Now beginning with these new counseling groups we are being encouraged to stay in those moments of anxiety when the wave is strongest and let our minds go through the feelings.  To actually experience them.  This has been quite difficult because I equate it to what I think it feels like to die.  I know I’m not dying it is just that physical symptoms are overwhelming.

The high heart rate, sweating, agitation, confusing thoughts, crying, stiff neck, stiff shoulders, nausea, stomach pain and eventually physical exhaustion to the point of just having to lay down and go to sleep. It feels like “I’m coming out of my skin” is the only way to describe it.

After waking up I normally have a very bad headache similar to a hang over after drinking too much.  The whole experience is something that I don’t want to have again but knowing that it will happen eventually.

I am sometimes afraid to go through this process because of the incidents before where the anxiety was so great that I eventually went numb and didn’t care anymore. That is when the spiraling out of control hit bottom and I struggled to resurface again.

So I try to work out the thoughts that normally cause the anxiety, to try to lessen them.  The depression is still there but it is not as great as it was before.  I know this part of my psyche will always be that way because of the physical trauma that I went through the damage can’t be undone but it will lessen over time.

As time goes on, my mind and body will know what to expect during these anxiety episodes.  This will hopefully lessen the time spent in these moments because I will be able to take control over it instead.  That’s the goal anyway.

So as time turns into hours, days, weeks, months, and years I can only hope that choosing to heal myself rather than relying on medications will pay off in the end.  That I will be able to make myself stronger than I ever was before.

That this depression is just a part of me and doesn’t define who I am or who I am to become.

Thank you for stopping by.

Have a great week!