“While I don’t see anything that’s making me too worried right now, with your history things could get bad. That’s a real concern right now.” Said my therapist via Zoom yesterday. She said it calmly, because she’s supposed to be calm and supportive but I have learned to add two Octaves of panic to her voice to gauge how worried I should be about any given situation. What I feel like she was thinking was more like, You seem semi-sane right now BUT SHIT IS COMING, GET READY, BATTEN DOWN THE GODDAMN HATCHES! She was wearing a floral blouse that went well with her fake Parisian backdrop to conceal that like many healthcare professionals right now, she sometimes has to hide from her kids during appointments. “Sometimes I’m working from the side of the tub. Hence Eiffel Tower.” This is why I love her: She’s honest and honest about being a real person.
I haven’t seen her in a while, mainly because I prefer in-person appointments to the phone or Zoom. But because my anxiety has peaked (hello obsessive thinking, irritability, self-loathing, and intrusive thoughts!) and chronic depression seems to be coming back–it’s like watching a slow motion car wreck in your brain–I thought it was probably a good idea to get ahead of any impending doom sooner rather than later. This is something I’ve learned since starting therapy a few years ago: Get help before it gets too bad. Also, medication is magical, and medication, while being magical, also gives you a false sense of “I’m all better!” This is why I try to stick with as-needed meds and do the work to heal as much as possible, easier said than done with a toddler and zero family here or childcare. Covid is kicking my ass, guys. I might jump back on the Gabapentin bandwagon sooner than later. Until then, I’m giving GABA, the natural version of the med, a chance as per my psychiatrists suggestion, calling my therapist, and trying to meditate and work out. And, unless I want to fall off of the deep end, I have to find some safe Corona friends. It’s so hard right now trying to balance protecting our physical health with taking care of our mental health.
Things We Talked About: My chronic depression seems to be coming back. I don’t feel supported by my husband because he works nonstop and isn’t good with setting work boundaries or prioritizing family. That’s his own shit from his parents. I’m worried about Leo and his lack of socializing. My friends are in two camps: Party central or “I will never see another human in person ever again.” My parents are not social distancing at all or even following basic protocol so we cannot see them. My siblings are somehow fine with it and I’m frustrated with all of them.
Action Items/What to Do: Order the recommended books (The Gottman Book on Marriage and the other marriage book in my Amazon cart plus give husband the reading recommendations therapist suggested). Find at least one or two people we can safely see regularly. My therapist said, “Mental health is also a public health issue. You can’t go the entire year without human contact and neither can your son. Children’s mental health is impacted the same way ours is and so you have to make sure to take care of his social development and wellbeing too.” Also, practice asking for what I need. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Sounds like something I’d be good at, even. And I am good at it with friends, but terrible when it comes to family or my husband.
For Next Time: Work on being less impacted by other’s thoughts and feelings. My family and how they make me feel like actual crap every single time we talk, and my feelings of inadequacy when it comes to my son. No matter what I do, it never feels like enough.
Brain Health Therapy Journal
I normally jot all of this down in my journal but I thought it might be helpful for some of you who are trapped at home right now and struggling. I started bullet journaling a few years ago because I’m obsessed with lists and a bullet journal is basically an entire notebook of lists. I have four notebooks nestled snuggly in my Mochi Things notebook organizer (not sponsored but GET ONE) and they cover everything from essays and sketches to master grocery lists and therapy notes. My therapy notes are probably the most useful thing I keep in there because nothing else matters if your brain is melting.
Every time I see my therapist, I designate a page to describe what we talked about, action items/things to do, what to talk about next time, and how I felt about the session. For anyone who has ever walked away from their session going, goddamnit, I meant to bring up xyz, this system is for you. But it also gives me an opportunity to jot down things that come to me before the therapy session so I get the most bang for my buck. Otherwise, I do what most of us do and rant about the thing that bothers me the most that day, which is honestly something about my husband, and while that’s helpful once in a while, it’s not going to free me from a lifetime of brain bullshit. But seriously, F, would it kill you to put things where they go?
This year has been really hard. I was not prepared to be a 24/7 caretaker in a world where we can’t be around other people. I wasn’t prepared for another bout of forced isolation, the very thing that kicked off my first nervous breakdown. I’m scared that this will go on for the rest of the year and I’ll end up back where I stared five years ago, bawling hysterically on my therapist’s couch after almost two weeks of absolutely no sleep. I can honestly say that Fight Club seemed a whole lot more realistic after being awake for that long. But I don’t think it will happen, I know what to do this time and I’m getting ahead of it. Right? Right.
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