I went through therapy a while back, thinking I was there to overcome depression brought on by the loss of my daughter. Of course, there were other issues, but I felt like it all came down to losing Izzy. Even now, my heart clenches when I type her name. It’s racing a bit. Full stop. I’ll have to take a break before I can finish this.
The reason I needed therapy came down to the loss of one specific individual, but it wasn’t my daughter. It was me. I had no idea who I was or what I wanted. My days were filled with regret and fear. What I thought was depression was really anxiety, and it had complete control of my thoughts. I didn’t believe good things could happen. I was convinced that the best thing I could do was get out of the way so I didn’t infect others with my hopelessness. So I hid. I’ve always been good at hiding.
Hide and Don’t Seek
March of 2020. I was killing it, coordinating Journey Groups (support groups) at my church, sharing my pain, loving my ministry. And along came the virus, and everyone scattered. I had just made it through the first two months without my daughter, and suddenly all my support was gone. Hate has never been in short supply online, but it really ramped up then. I made an effort to be heard, but my opinion wasn’t popular. So off I went, into my cave. And when the rest of the world started venturing out, I stayed in the shadows.
Ten straight months of begging God to kill me. I needed help. That help came in the form of a neighbor who saw me and not only suggested therapy, but made it happen for me. I nearly canceled my first appointment. A therapist couldn’t get my daughter back. She couldn’t take Autism from my sons. She couldn’t un-waste my life.
But I couldn’t throw away what had been given to me. So I went, ears perked for anything that triggered my alarms, anything that told me therapy was just another way for someone to take my money and not help me. Somehow, she navigated her way safely through my minefield of distrust. She found little Rachel and helped her out of the fetal position.
Sometimes when I need a good cry, I imagine myself in that room, sitting across from the woman who helped me unpack forty-five years of self-doubts and cumulative trauma. I learned in that space how to find and conquer the lies that were deeply embedded in my brain. Lies that spawned my fiction, yes, but that also trapped me there. Because I couldn’t even create magical problems I didn’t prefer over my real life.
I’ve been out of therapy for several months now, and I’m realizing that mental health is like any other discipline. It takes practice. My joy-seeking muscles have atrophied. Anxiety has crept back into my routine, and my tools are largely forgotten. I write my pain into my fiction, but all too often, I find that my attitude is starting to align with that of my flawed characters. I’m starting to not want to be here. Wallowing in ugly thoughts instead of taking them captive. I’ve said the actual words, my face aimed skyward, heart closed off to the god I’m not always convinced is listening.
I don’t want to be here.
I’ve been asking myself for weeks what I should blog about. Photography, special needs, writing. My word cloud suggests I should write about hidden spaces and mysteries. I considered that, but on closer inspection, I noticed something else in my cloud. Between the mentions of secret passages and enchanted forests—things that excite me—the darkest part of me calls out that she still needs help. She’s drowning. So I’m going to dive in. Get raw and real.
I know I’m under here somewhere
First confession: I still don’t like myself. I’m not even going to try to fix that today. It’s a big mess with too many components to fit into one blog entry, and I seriously want to open my manuscript and write about my character’s struggles right now. She’s much more interesting than I am. So I’m leaving it here, at the start of a journey that will hopefully help me to find joy again. I have a long way to go. In this blog, I’ll travel down the dark corridors of my broken mind. I’ll tell the ugly truth. And maybe someone will be touched by it.
What are your thoughts? Have you tried therapy? Did it work for you, and if so, are you still thriving?