My whole adult life I’ve been going to therapy on and off, but I wasn’t using it properly. I would schedule an appointment with someone when I was having a really hard time, go for a while and once I felt better I would quit going. I never even saw the same therapist long enough for them to diagnose me with anything.
Years ago I finally found one that I clicked with. I really liked her. Then one day she tells me she was moving out of state and I would have to find someone else. I was devastated and cried right there in her office. I didn’t go for therapy again after that until 2017 when I was hospitalized and diagnosed with severe depression, generalized anxiety disorder and PTSD.
I now have a wonderful therapist I enjoy going to see, and I know now that in order to stay healthy I need to see her regularly. I see her every other week currently, and I plan to keep going regularly. I know that therapy is a tool in my mental health “tool box” along with other tools like self-care, journaling, regular checkups with my primary doctor and prescriber, and medications to name a few. Without all of these or some of these tools, I could slip back into a deep depression, or my anxiety could take over, or my PTSD could manifest itself by giving me night terrors again.
Going to therapy I have learned many coping techniques. One of these is visualization. I can’t get myself to go to our downtown area due to some traumatic events that happened to me there. (You can read my book “Living with Depression, Anxiety and PTSD – You are not Alone” for more on this). I can go if I am with my husband, but I am hyper vigilant and my anxiety is through the roof. I can not go by myself. But my therapist is teaching me visualization to eventually get me to be able to go downtown without the hypervigilance and high anxiety. She has me visualizing driving the road that leads to downtown, and in that visualization, she has me noticing everything around me like different stores I pass. I also have to pay close attention to how I am feeling the closer I get to the downtown area, and noticing when my anxiety starts to kick in. This has been a helpful exercise, but I have a long ways to go before I will be able to go downtown yet.
The other major component in my “tool box” is my medication. I know this is a controversial subject. I was listening to a conversation a couple of my relatives were having on the subject and they were obviously against using medications for mental illness. They were talking about how essential oils could be used instead of meds. Now don’t get me wrong, to each their own. If the oils work for them without the addition of medications I am happy for them. But for me, I would not be here if I wasn’t on medications, along with therapy and my other tools. I know for a fact, they helped saved my life.
I have run the gamut with medications trying to find the right dosages for me, but once I found them, I haven’t had a serious depressive episode yet in 3 years. I have had small ones, but nothing my “team” (my therapist & husband) and I couldn’t handle. I take meds in the morning and some more before bedtime. There have been a few times where I have forgotten to take one or the other and my anxiety will kick in because I think that I will fall back down the rabbit hole of depression. Otherwise I am really good at remembering to take them when I am supposed too.
My prescriber will mention in passing sometimes of taking me off one and just upping the dose of another instead and I panic. In my opinion, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. We have a pretty good handle on my mental health with the way we have it so why change it? Yes, I still have panic attacks, yes, I still have small depressive episodes, yes, my PTSD shows up once in a while, but I don’t think there is a pill out there that will make them disappear completely. So where we have it now is good for me. I can handle my mental health the way it is right now. What tools do you have in your mental health “tool box” to help you with your mental health? Leave a comment below.