I spent my day off work in my pajamas watching reruns of “Sex and the City.” There is something comforting about watching women who are just as neurotic as me.
As I lay on the couch, I began to think of what I needed to do to get better. The only thing that came to mind was that I needed to weed certain people out of my life. The problem was the people I needed to weed out were some the closest people in my life, practically my second family.
It’s not that these people were a bad influence. But the love they tried to show me suffocated me. I felt that they cared so much about preventing me from making a mistake that they forgot to see me for who I am. Who I was and what I wanted wasn’t important. This drove me crazy.
Amidst the chaos in my head, I'd recently received some good news. I had been accepted in the University of Miami’s journalism graduate program. This was major accomplishment, but the money wasn’t coming up. I knew I was going to have to decline the acceptance. With deep disappointment in my heart, I wrote the program director I wouldn’t be attending, but that I was going to try again.
But while I was dealing with this professional heartbreak, I also had a negative response from these friends telling me that this was providential, because they thought I was going to Miami to pursue a boy who had rejected me. That rejection was painful, as it was my first love. It was one of the wounds I carried. But I learned from it, and I knew there was no sense in chasing after someone who was trying to get away. Plus, Miami had been a dream of mine for years before I’d even met him, and that wasn't going to stop me or make me want to go more.
It hurt because the failed relationship was the only piece people saw. All I could think was, How stupid do they think I am? Why would I put myself in a financial hole of almost $100,000 to chase after someone who didn’t love me? But more importantly, I thought, I’ll be damned if I’m going to let a boy stop me from doing something I’ve always planned on doing.
Yet, this wasn’t all I had to deal with. I had to wrestle with my own doubts. My thoughts were like a tennis ball being slammed from one side of the court to another.
“Yes, I was accepted!”
“I don’t have the money to go.”
“Should I risk it?”
“What if I do mess up like everyone says I will?”
“What if I don’t?”
“Why does everything go wrong for me?”
“Can they see that I’m trying and I really want this?”
“All I want is an opportunity.”
“Why can’t they be happy for me?”
It went on like this for months until one night at a bar, the tennis match ended. I couldn’t keep up the front any longer. I took myself out of that environment temporarily. I loved these people, and I know they loved me. But sometimes, love can turn negative if it ignores the other person’s desires.
For a short time, I put some separation between my friends and myself. I didn’t completely cut them out, but I made it clear that I didn’t want to hear their opinions about certain aspects of my life. I still carried around the hurt. A lot of my own negative self talk still tormented me. And after a couple of months, it wasn’t getting better. I finally caved and asked my mom to help me find a therapist.
I’ve actually been to different therapists prior to this episode for different reasons. But one therapist just asked me tons of questions and I never got to discuss what was really bothering me. The other just parroted back my statements as questions.
Me: It frustrates me that people only point out my weaknesses instead of my strengths.
Therapist: So you are saying that people point out only your weaknesses. How does that make you feel?
Me: (Trying to keep my composure) It makes me feel frustrated.
Telling my story over and over again is exhausting, not to mention nerve-racking. I swore I would never waste my time or money on them again. But then I remembered the first therapist I had gone to see as a teenager. There was something about her that I liked.
Maybe it was her beautiful home. Or her laid-back, raspy voice that made you feel like you were on island time. Maybe it was that she enjoyed saying “f*ck” just as much as me. Maybe it was that she listened, and she allowed me to talk.
My mother helped me set up the appointment, and before I knew it, I was knocking at her door. The first session was incredible. I told her everything that was going on in my mind. I told her that although I didn’t want to really kill myself, I fantasized about crashing my car into the canal. I told her I felt like I was going crazy when I couldn't fall asleep. Without judgment, she took all that information and was able to medically describe what my brain was doing.
It turns out that when I get bogged down with all the negative thoughts, my brain enters a depressive state that doesn’t allow me to reason and doesn’t allow me to sleep, making the problem worse. She recommended I visit my primary care physician and ask for a low dosage of an antidepressant.
A year prior to this doctor visit, I did ask my primary care physician to prescribe me an antidepressant. She did so reluctantly, because she felt I was too young. I ended up never filling the prescription because I wanted to try my best to defeat my depression on my own. Flash forward to a year later, when I realized I couldn’t rely on my strength anymore. I knew it was time to take charge and take care of myself. So for the next two months, I went to therapy once a week and took a low dosage antidepressant. I was taking steps to make myself get better. I was making progress.