I’ve been in therapy for various reasons over the years. Early on, I was diagnosed with dysthymia–a low grade form of depression that lasts longer than other kinds of depression. I don’t know if I still “have” that. Seems to me like I’m just a melancholy person fighting to be happy like most people. More recently, I’ve been dealing with anxiety, which at times can be quite debilitating.
I’m not a medication type of person either. It’s not that I’m against meds; it’s just that I seem to react badly to most medication I’m given and I prefer to find healthy alternatives like exercise, mindfulness, essential oils, or eating better. I’m not great at it and it would be easy to just pop a pill, but I just don’t feel comfortable doing that. And probably never will.
So I’ve lived with depression and anxiety for 40 years and have gone to therapy in various forms and with different therapists on and off. Whenever I’m not in therapy, I somehow feel some sort of guilt for not taking my mental wellness seriously. So then I find a counselor and start discussing issues and to be quite honest, it makes me feel worse.
Doesn’t matter if I go for a year or for 2 weeks, I don’t feel like it really helps me. The exception to that is marriage counseling, but there are things even in my marriage that will never change and no amount of counseling is going to fix it.
Therapy is often the same–drudge up my past, complain about the present, try to find a solution for the future. It’s a lot of “to do’s” and “you should’s” and it either stresses me out or causes me to be irritated when I have to bring up crap again.
For instance, talking about my brother who took his life–there is no point in discussing it anymore. He’s gone, it was a tragic event that I’ll have to live with until I die, and no amount of therapy will ever bring him back or make me forget it. Talking about it just makes me agitated. I’d prefer to remember him in life instead of always talking about how he died.
I know people these days are all about talking through problems and discussing things to death, but maybe some things are better left unsaid. Maybe continuing to bring up age old issues just makes it impossible to move forward.
Even talking about problems in my life now pisses me off. I can’t change the things in my house very easily and some things will never be fixed. So why talk about them? Why keep beating a dead horse and trying to fix the unfixable? It’s totally pointless except for the fact that my therapist gets a check in the end and I leave being dependent on the next session where I *might* finally have a breakthrough. It’s like tempting a mouse with a piece of cheese that leads them into a trap.
I guess I’ve grown cynical from it all. I know there’s a place and a need for it, but maybe some people just don’t get helped like that.
I realize there are some people who aren’t teachable, don’t want to work on their problems and aren’t open to change. I know I probably sound like that person right now, but that’s not how I go into therapy. I have gone into with an open mind and I attempt one of their many solutions, some of which are helpful while others not so much. The point isn’t that therapists can’t help you. Some people are greatly helped by therapy. But sometimes, for people like me, it just ends up in frustration and feeling worse than before.
Some suggest to keep trying to find the right therapist and not to give up, while others say to work with your therapist even if it seems like it isn’t working. I guess I just don’t have the energy for it anymore.
In therapy, the focus ends up being so much on what’s going on in my own head that I forget to live.
It seems like the best solution for me and the one that has helped me the most is just finding things I do enjoy, that don’t give me anxiety, and that help lift my depression. Things like walking around the lake, being in nature, lifting weights and eating a lot less sugar and bread have been great for my mood. Spending time with friends or doing fun things as a family also seems to help. Helping others who need help is also something that makes me feel good. In therapy, the focus ends up being so much on what’s going on in my own head that I forget to live.
When I start feeling down, I know it’s because I’m thinking too much about my problems, or about something that is bothering me. I ruminate about it–it plays like a broken record over and over. This is when I know I need to get out of the house or do something else. Listening to music, spending time with someone, or even watching TV is helpful. Sometimes I go to the gym and take my aggression out there. It doesn’t make the problem disappear, but it gives me more clarity. Unlike therapy, I don’t walk out feeling worse than when I went in.
So that’s my new solution and I’m going to see where that takes me. People seem to have their own ideas on what works and what doesn’t. Mental health isn’t one-size-fits-all for a solution. It’s a good idea to seek help when you need to especially if you are dealing with suicidal thoughts, but it’s also good to look at alternatives and explore new ideas. Being in therapy for years can take it’s own toll and for me, I’m just tired of the monotony of my problems. I want to embrace new things and move past this wall of feelings, not be stuck in the pattern of discussing them until I die.
You get one life. Might as well really live it.