I found the therapy and anti-depressant medicine were helping me. But I knew I couldn’t rely on them forever, nor did I want to.
The anti-depressant didn’t keep me from ever feeling sad, which actually is a good thing. As terrible as sadness can be, sometimes it needs to be felt. What the anti-depressant did do is keep me from drowning in my sadness. It also helped me to sleep, which was a much-needed relief.
Therapy helped me to understand why my mind was working the way it did. My therapist used the Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing method. Upon my first visit, she said that sometimes Cognitive Behavioral Treatment isn’t as effective in treating depression. For those who don’t know much about psychology, CBT is basically the belief that if she changes our thoughts, then we can change our mood. I remember she said treating patients using CBT is a slap in the face. In my head I just said “Yes, finally someone who understands.”If I could change my thoughts, I would have changed them months ago. The truth is that changing our mindset is not as easy as turning on a switch.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing is a method that identifies a traumatic memory, then (with the help of your therapist) helps you process the memory by pairing it with feelings of distress. Mine was “I’m not good enough.” Each week, I would discuss one moment during the week in which I felt most distressed. My therapist would hand me two buzzers, and I’d hold it to my head while it pulsated at different speeds. My eyes would be closed, and she would ask me to identify the first memory associated with the feeling, “Not good enough.” From there I would jump from memory to memory. Often, they were memories that I had forgotten or didn’t think had affected me much.
I was surprised at how much pain I had internalized for years. It made me think of a quote that said, “Depression isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign that you have be strong for too long.” It made sense. My “the show must go on” attitude, while admirable, was really hurting me. Sadly, I wasn’t able to continue the treatment because of the financial commitment. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. I strongly encourage people to seek therapy if their conditions are serious.
I say this because I learned so much. I discovered that I tend to put others’ feelings before my own. I’ve been able to identify who the people I can trust with my feelings are, and more importantly, who I can not. Most importantly, I’ve realized that my intentions have always been good. Striving to be a good person is great, but I need to cut myself some slack. Lastly, I have to enjoy and not take for granted all the small, good things. I try my best to maximize those moments, whether I’m biting into a delicious burrito or spending time with my loved ones.
There is still much work to be done. I have stopped taking the anti-depressant because I want to work on things on my own. Sometimes I do fall into despair, but I know my ever-loving friends are just a text and coffee date away. Recently, I’ve also been lucky to find a great guy who not only accepted me when I told him I have depression, but refuses to love me any less because of it. It’s a going to be a tough journey but I have hope that one day I will defeat it.