Tag Archives: Therapist

Personal Flaws or Personal Strengths?

I see my therapist every two weeks now. It happened by accident a few months ago when she was off on vacation but we’ve kept to a biweekly schedule since. I think this is the plan all along, although I’m still new to all of this stuff. It makes sense if they think you’re improving that they ween you off of their support. As you grow stronger you don’t need them anymore and can function all on your own.

(Fun Fact: ‘biweekly’ can mean either twice a week, or every two weeks. I guess rely on context clues to figure out which one is being implied!)

I was surprised when I was able to stick to this biweekly schedule after the past two weeks. When I was picked up by the cops and hauled to talk to a counselor two weeks ago, they suggested I make an appointment with my therapist to help me work through my current predicament. I agreed to this but mostly so I could get the hell out of there. Not like they had any leverage over me once I left. After I hauled my camping supplies back home and started to drink heavily, I did think about scheduling another appointment. But no. Something in me was stubborn and wanted to face reality and my problems on my own, even if I was limping along in life with alcoholism. Maybe that says something good about my mindset; even in the depths of feeling like total shit I still had confidence that I’d get through it and I could talk to the therapist about it in a week and a half. That’s what I did and I saw her last Friday.

The thing I like most about therapy is how she doesn’t bark commands at me or tell me exactly what I’m doing wrong. It’s easier to get people to listen to you if you feel like they’re learning shit on their own. This is why arguing on social media never works; calling someone out on their flaws, even if true, won’t make them very receptive to your views or opinions. The therapist does this wonderfully and I wish everyone would someone adopt this technique. She guides me along and kinda hints at solutions but never tells me exactly what I’m doing wrong. She allows me to realize things on my own which really helps a person interalize their realizations.

This post is about one of these realization friday. Something about one of my flaws. About how I’m never happy and at peace. This is most relevant with relationships in this case, but it applies everywhere. I’m not happy at work; I think I can be happier elsewhere. I’m not happy writing because I think I could do a better job at it. Take this blog and my views over the past few months for another perfect example. One of my goals this year was to have 1,000 monthly views which I finally cracked last month. I think I ended with 1,200 or so. I was happy for a few days but then it disappeared. I did it, sure, but now what should I do? This month has over 2,000 views already, and think about that. I doubled my goal for this year and how do I feel about it? Perfectly fucking blah. I’m so happy and thankful, but I know it’s a temporary feeling. Those two writing awards I received years ago in college? Cool at the time, but so what? I haven’t won any awards recently so it seems silly to still feel good about them. Oooo, I finally got my commercial pilot’s license last July? Same thing as always; I felt good for a few days and then stressed out and wondered what my next step should be. As soon as I achieve something the happiness wanes and I need to do something else. I’m seriously never happy.

Now that I think of it, a friend at work asked a question that most people seemed to find very enlightening to think about. It went something like this. “Imagine you are 50. You’ve made all the money you’ve wanted to make. You’re happily married or in whatever situation you hope to be in. You’re drinking your favorite beverage on the porch in your dream home watching the sun either set or rise, whatever. Life is perfect. You’ve made it. What music are you listening to? What are you feeling at the time? What are your current thoughts?” I think there was more to it but this was a month ago so I forgotten about the details. The general gist should be fine.

The few people I heard answer the question actually answered it. I kinda frowned thinking about it and when asked said the premise was totally off for me. I knew I’d never have that singular moment where life was totally complete, finished, and I was content and happy. If I was in this spot I’d still be antsy always looking for some other project or goal to work towards. I’ve basically accepted this fact about myself: I’ll never be happy because I need goals to chase and such. Or maybe since I’m never satisfied I need goals to chase. I don’t know which one drives the other really, which one is the carrot and which one is the horse.

Enter the therapist appointment. I don’t know if she said anything, but I’m sure she did, and I came to the realization that, hey, wait, what if this major flaw of mine is a good thing? Something bothers me when I see people totally stagnant in life with no goals, dreams, or hobbies. I wonder if this bothers them. Do people really sit around and enjoy the weather? Do others really rest, relax, and chill? Really? You can even view it in a darker way as well. Think of hopeless alcoholics who drink daily working a job they hate and they just exist in that environment for literal decades. Does this bother them? And does it bother them enough where they want to change it? For some people this answer is certainly “no,” and this is frightening to me. It sounds like someone whose soul is dead and they’re only physically alive. Honestly, this was myself last week, but it wore me down. Something seemed off. Something within me didn’t like the entire affair. I was giving in to being lazy, giving into my current situation, giving up on life, and content with just existing as a drunkard with no dreams or goals. And I don’t want to be that way.

This flaw I have about always needing something else, if viewed correctly, or as the therapist mentioned “directed,” it’s an amazing gift to have. It keeps me from giving into the dreariness of life, or the blandness of not moving forward. It manifests in negative ways in relationships obviously, but knowing my tendencies could help me redirect the energy into a positive way. What I always thought was a flaw — maybe I just had to learn to be happy with where I am — also can manifest as a drive for more that if used right is an amazing gift that many others might not have. Sure this causes me a great deal of suffering, but so what?

Usually we view our traits as totally positives or totally negatives with little thought about the contexts we apply to them. Being “giving” is usually viewed as a good trait, but it can also be a flaw. If you’re so giving to others that you gladly give money away to bums at the expense of yourself or your family, this is bad. “Greedy” sounds bad, but it might also allow you to save money and have a large safety net of cash on hand. This might be old information for those wiser than myself, but I’m pretty happy I stumbled upon this little gem. So think about the traits you have, whether positive or negative, and try to see them from a slightly less biased perspective. Many of the negative ones might be awesome traits that can be used to benefit yourself and others. One of my flaws, always needing more, might be a blessing in disguise that I only thought was a flaw. It’s all on how you view and use your traits I guess.

Now the question is how to use this apparent gift of mine? Well, I have this blog post to show for my efforts. That’s a start…

Streak Day #30: Untitled

“So, how have you been the past two weeks?”

Perfect. Happy. Depression was a thing of the past. Totally conquered. I had finally discovered myself. A toolkit of ways to fend off the bad vibes and thoughts. Perfectly comfortable in my skin. Cool, confident, and quiet. Problem solved! Problem solved…Problem solved?

Two days ago. Spiraling. Pointlessness. Anxiety. Depression. Dread. More sleeplessness. 5 a.m. with the sun coming up wondering what exactly life is. Benadryl to sleep; a drug to crutch along. Sleep at any cost. Where’s the purpose? The point? What am I meant to do here? Wasn’t I out of the woods? Wasn’t I happy? Weren’t those damn pills magical and finally fixed me?

“Where do you see yourself in the future.”

I shrug. “I don’t know. I feel like I’m floating through life too scared to make any choice.”

“Sometimes it helps to visualize where you want to be in the future. This will give you purpose and something to work towards.”

Every path is miserable, only changing certain pros for cons. More money, less happiness. More possessions, more responsibilities, less freedom. More attachment. More stuff. More freedom, less security. The grass is always greener everywhere else. Not knowing what I’m meant to do. Knowing there is nothing I’m meant to do and it’s up for me to decide. Being unable to decide anything for fear of what misery each path holds. And all paths hold misery; I always make the wrong choice. Is floating such a bad thing? Is pointlessness such a bad thing? Is there anyone that knows what the hell they’re meant to do, even if there is nothing we’re meant to do? Is anyone as blindly confident that they know where to go? Is this another form of blindness? Is blindness happiness?

Five steps forward and six steps backwards. Seven, perhaps. No progress. No sense of empowerment. No moving forward. Self-discovery? No. Self-confusion and self-loss. When I think I find myself it disappears. Too much effort, too much work. The tools in the kit take too much work to use. Constantly being on-edge, looking for the next crisis. Playing chess with your own brain, trying to bring up thoughts as pawns to try to stop yourself from checkmating yourself. And the opponent is so much more motivated than you, the bad vibes are effortless. The chess grandmaster in your head; checkmated in less than ten moves. When are all my pawns gone? When do I run out of motivation to fight? When does it become easier to give in?

Awake after twelve hours of sleep: still tired. Still groggy. Still sleepy. Five cups of coffee, eight cups of coffee: still tired. But shaky. Just enough semblance of being awake to function. Nicotine, caffeine, give me any -ine you can find, maybe I’ll eventually wake up. Constantly shaking and tired. Constantly anxious. Enough awakeness to write low-quality posts. Not enough motivation to work on a story. Writer’s block that never ends. The constant fight towards some goal you don’t even have. And the tiredness. And time always moving forward. And you not moving anywhere at all except towards old age, failing mind, and death. Float along the river until it’s too late to change your course.

And sleeplessness at 5 a.m. once again. Still tired but awake.

“Is it possible that I like being miserable? Is that a thing?”

“Yes. Misery is easier than working to be happy. It takes less effort.”

The comfort of depression. Not caring. Knowing you don’t care. Knowing you’re functioning as a basic animal just staying alive. Food not for enjoyment but so you don’t feel more miserable. Water because your mouth is dry. Work because of bills and money. Write because there is nothing else better to do. Silence around people — you’re a piece of shit and are miserable to be around — why make everyone else miserable by being a piece of shit? Blaming your mood for being a failure. The comfort of depression. The comfort of giving up. Thirty years of nothing. Thirty years of zero progress. Thirty years of depression. Of never knowing yourself. Of never knowing anything. Of being totally lost, blind, and stumbling through life. How many more years?

“I woudn’t say this if it wasn’t true: you are making progress. I can see it. You just need to keep discovering yourself and moving forward.”

Values. What are my values? I don’t know. Blank slate once again. I am a nobody. The blank whiteboard waiting to have a purpose. The blank piece of paper waiting for a story, a picture, or spilled ink: waiting for anything.

I’m not cut out for self-discovery. I’m an idiot hiding under a mask of being smart. Maybe I shouldn’t know myself. Maybe I should stay blind to everything. The trivial defines me. Deep down? I don’t know. Why do I do the things I do? No clue. Ram through another wall and find another. The wall is well-constructed this time. Smash through this to find an iron gate. And another taller iron-gate. On and on from one problem to the next.

“Self-discovery is like an onion; it has many layers.”

Infinite layers. The radius never shrinks, the circle never gets smaller. One layer leads to another layer. There is no core. There is no bright and shiny center. So much goddamn effort to peel anything away. Years of grime and dirt that doesn’t make any sense. If it does makes sense you can’t do anything with the sense it does make. One more layer down and onto the next. More confusion than before. More paralysis than before. More dread then before. Why am I this way? I hate myself for being this way. Helplessness knowing I can’t be anything else. This is me, and I hate it.

“Bring yourself to the source — whatever that is — and bask in it. Recharge.”

“Think of the love you hold in other peoples’ lives. Think happy thoughts. Think how you’re part of the whole.”

“Decide where you want to be in the future. It’ll help give you something to work towards.”

“Break a large goal down into smaller goals. Take small steps towards the goals.”

“Decide what your values are.”

“Think, ‘Is this thought useful to have right now?'”

“Maybe set boundaries with yourself in your interactions.”

It’s Friday. March 27th, 2020. 5:09 p.m. Now what? Always: Now What?

Therapy Sucks: the Second Session

Note: This is a continuation of this post if you’d like to check that out. And also a continuation (more like “spiritual successor”) of this post. Self-discovery is a fucking pain. Also, three posts in three days? What is wrong with me? Geez. Sometimes when you’re bored and depressed you realize there is nothing else to really do besides write.

“You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you can’t go around it; you have to go through it.”

-Some Guy Named Brian

I’m currently sitting in a park eating Burger King, listening to the Dead Kennedys, and crying for no apparent reason at all. Wondering what the hell my problem is. Do I even have a problem or is this how people are? I don’t know. I hate being a person though. I didn’t sign up for this shit at all but here we are. Feeling totally stuck in life even though I didn’t want to be here. But what other alternative is there? I’m here and I gotta play the game.

I got out of therapy a half hour ago. It was the second appointment and I was terrified of it. The first appointment was nice; I knew I was making the right decision and was feeling empowered by finally taking control of my life and mental health in a meaningful way. I acknowledged I had a problem — depression, anxiety, insecurity, self-esteem issues — and finally took an actual step to solve the problem(s) facing me. I think this is more than most people do. I have no facts or figures to back me up, but I assume the majority of people limp unhappily and unsatisfied through life not giving one true and meaningful thought as to who they are fundamentally as a person. They deny their deep inner issues, tuck them away, and go through life as a zombie; a nearly dead soulless person. Living but slowly wasting away. I don’t want to be that. As miserable as I sometimes am I’m aware that my own happiness should be my top priority. As exhausted as I am I know the only one who will fight for me is myself.

The first appointment was easy. You talk about yourself and everyone likes to talk about themselves. We all feel we’re the protagonists of our story surrounded by relatively meaningless NPCs. The hero is going to the therapist. The hero is talking about his problems. The hero is talking about the struggles he’s facing in his grand adventure which is life. Sure everyone else is a real person, but when you’re stuck in your head it’s easy to forget that fact. I find it easy to talk and never understood how some people hesitate to open up to a therapist. It’s what I’m there for, so why hold back? The whole point of it is to get down to the bare issues and facts; holding back is just postponing the entire purpose of therapy.

Visit number two? Terrible. It’s terrifying to think about how the next therapy appointment will probably get deeper into your soul and your problems than the last. I didn’t feel like opening up. I didn’t feel like fixing the problem anymore. I didn’t want to talk about myself or end up crying on a nice and comfy couch covered in blankets. I was exhausted and didn’t want to deal with anything. As boring as my Saturdays are, I didn’t want to go to therapy. Just, no. Remember all that empowering bullshit I said two paragraphs ago? There was none of that today, only dread.

Somehow we talked for nearly an hour which felt like twenty minutes. I also felt like nothing was accomplished. Like I blabbed on and on and she said some insightful things and nothing was discovered or solved. In fact I feel worse now that I did earlier. Apparently being happy means being proactive in pulling yourself out of depressing and negative thoughts and moods when they arise. I learned a few mental exercises to help drag myself out of the dark places. Think if the negative thought is useful to have in the moment. Is it better served to face the thought later? And maybe make a list of five items to focus on when your mood goes down the drain. Focus on Love, the big universal Love, and friendship and simply how you are existing in the moment. Think of something around you, count something. I know these are good and I’ve used them in the past to some degree successfully, but goddamn am I exhausted. In many ways I don’t want to deal with the negative thoughts, I want them banished. I want to be happy all the time. Can’t that happen? Just put me on some goddamn drugs that make me happy all the time. I don’t want to deal with life, I want to be dead and numb to it all if that’s a possibility.

Therapy seems to bring up 20 questions for every one that it answers. It’s still the second appointment but I feel like I’m getting nowhere, or even worse it feels like I’m making negative progress. Like I’m digging myself deeper into confusion and drifting away from understanding. Where’s the supposed progress? Hilariously, the therapist jokingly called me an “a-hole” when I asked her this question: “When will I start to get somewhere?” “Oh, nothing personal against you,” I said, “I just don’t feel like I’m making any progress.” Just more questions and I don’t want to deal with more questions. Why doesn’t anything make sense? Why do I want things to make sense? Can things please make sense just for once?

I realized I’m a deeply complex person and that I don’t understand a fraction of the shit I do. I don’t make sense. It’s so infuriating and hopeless when you realize you don’t even know or understand yourself. How the hell are you supposed to be happy when all you seem to be is a big, fat, random question mark of a person? There’s plenty of mumbo-jumbo about self-discovering and searching for yourself, but how deep do I go? I thought I was getting to the bottom of things a week or so ago, but now? I feel more lost than before. It’s like I thought my soul was about as deep as a shallow pond or maybe a river, and that I’ve discovered it’s more like the Mariana Trench and I’m totally ill-equipped to explore those depths.

Most infuriating is the fact that if I’m going to get over my problems, I’m going to have to get down there somehow. And it’s so damn exhausting. I have a hard time getting out of bed and five cups of coffee still leaves me barely functioning and able to go about my day. Deep soul searching? Fuck me. That’s a lot of work. I don’t think I’m cut out for it. I’m totally incapable of it. But really I don’t know what other choice I have. I think I’m to the point where I’m so deep into the self-discovery process that I don’t think I can quit. I can’t wall myself up and be shallow anymore. It’s already there: this realization that I need to discover myself, that I have no choice otherwise, and it’s going to suck and even if I’m so tired, exhausted, and burned out it’s something I have to do now.

As a good friend of mine said: “You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you can’t go around it, you have to go through it.”

And as always thanks for reading another rambly, journalesque blog post.

Getting Help Sucks

Last week I decided that I should probably go see a therapist. For most of the week and for various reasons I felt as though I was on the verge of a total mental meltdown. It was especially terrible while at work with me nearly going home early because I couldn’t deal with being there. I was antsy, jittery, and my body had sort of a nervous hum to it, like the hum of a fluorescent light bulb if that makes sense. I was shaking and bzzzzzz constantly. Just a total feeling of being on edge and ready to lose it all. My mind was in overdrive thinking (mostly worrying) about a wide range of things where it was impossible to not think about them. I was utterly depressed. I felt lonely. I felt hopeless. I felt like a loser, like everyone probably hated me and only dealt with me to be nice. Despite me knowing that I was overreacting, it’s hard to get yourself to actually internalize it. I knew I was being fearful, scared, and irrational with no way to actually think rationally about things.

It was in this rare mental state that something snapped and I realized something obvious but difficult to admit: I was not happy. Life was not enjoyable. Like at all. Something was not working. I felt on the precipice of something very dark and scary. My drinking had picked up again. I was anxious and terrified of everything. Day after day was a struggle against the dread of existing. And that probably isn’t how a person is supposed to feel. Certainly isn’t how a person is supposed to feel. I admitted to myself that I needed to go see someone about my mental state.

So how did that go? Well, I don’t know. I still haven’t went because getting help fucking sucks.

You’d think the main difficulty in actually getting help is admitting that you need or want help, but this is only the initial part of the challenge. Once you finally admit that you need help, you actually need to find someone. And holy hell is that another shitty adventure all on its own.

The fact is that mental health issues are still stigmatized in the United States (maybe the world, I don’t know) and it’s very difficult to find someone you can open up to between family and friends. After you admit you want to find help, it greatly helps if you have a support system who can support your choice to find someone. I think I’m pretty lucky in regards to having friends and family to talk to, but other people? It’s terrifying to put myself in someone else’s place who has no support. If a person like that did admit they needed help, there isn’t anyone to support them along the way. Finding help is solely on them, and that is terrifying. Everyone needs a support system.

So knowing that you want help, now what? You find someone to go see. How do you do that? Once again it’s up to you to do most of the work. There are no mental health “general practitioners” to go see, no one to recommend you to someone, you have to find them your own. And mental health is different from general health. If you have a physical problem any doctor should be able to help, or at least point you in the right direction to someone who can help, but with mental health? It seems there needs to be a good relationship between therapist and patient and sometimes people just do not bond or feel comfortable with others, even if there is no outward reason to feel so. I guess I’m trying to say finding someone for mental health issues isn’t as easy as going to your insurances’ provider finder, typing in your address, and going to the first place you find. You need to do research and research is not something the depressive person is actually up to doing.

One of my friends directed me to psychologytoday.com. You can search for therapists/counselors/psychologists/psychiatrists in your area. (What are the differences? More on that shortly) This helped a ton as you can still search by insurance providers and you can read their profiles/treatment techniques/see what their specialized in, but there were still too many to choose from! I didn’t want to start limiting my choices based on stupid shit like how friendly they look or if they’re young or old. It seems like I could miss a good person to go see by using such pointless criteria. And once again a person in this mindset probably isn’t the best at taking the initiative or being motivated to continue the search.

And there’s always the question about who exactly I should go see. Therapists and counselors are kinda the same thing (I think. But one has more schooling? I don’t know.) while psychologists have more schooling or something. I think the psychologists are meant for people who have more clinical disorders who might need specific treatments. And psychiatrists? Apparently they can prescribe medicine. (Also, let’s not forget the fact that psychologists and psychiatrists are both spelled similarly and are equally difficult to type. The psych- is so fucking clunky to type out, try it for yourself. Every time I write one of those I get a big, squiggly red line under it.) I don’t really know and if anyone wants to clear these distinctions up feel free to correct me in the comments. I don’t know if my case is serious enough to require a psychiatrist or if I just need someone to talk to, like a therapist. Being depressed means you don’t fucking know. So if I don’t know, how am I going to know who to see? I’m just trying to stress again that a person in a depressed state probably doesn’t want to research the intricacies and differences between certain mental health professional’s titles, schooling, and specialties. It’s daunting at a time you don’t want to face anything daunting.

I think that’s about it (so far). I feel that admitting you have a mental health problem should be the primary key to finding assistance. It should be your ticket to freedom, sort of like a call to 911 in a medical emergency is enough to get help. The emergency room doesn’t require you to select a pulmonologist or a cardiologist because they figure out what is wrong with you and find a person to treat you. With mental health? Nope. It’s up to you to find someone even though you’re as confused as you could ever be. You need to go through a mostly bullshit, confusing, and complex process mostly by yourself to actually find someone to see. It’s a pain in the ass even if you weren’t in a shitty mental state, and being in one only makes things harder.

We have a ton of work to do in the US and probably the world at large in regards to mental health. I’m almost certain that a massive amount of people quietly go about their lives abusing drugs or whatever or hiding behind hobbies, entertainment, and other things to keep busy so they don’t break down. Putting on a mask and struggling in silence. Like everyone is dealing with something and even if some look like they’re fine many might be close to their breaking points without showing any outward signs of it. There is no clear way to get help, no clear way to talk about how you feel or to be open about it, and maybe people turn to suicide as a way to ask for help because mental health is so stigmatized. If you do admit to get help, good job on you. Congratulations, it’s probably the hardest thing to admit! Hang in there. But it’s still going to be a pain in the ass finding someone to go see.