Treating My Mental Illnesses Outside of Therapy

Mental health outside of therapy

Back in August I suddenly decided to stop going to my weekly therapy sessions. At that point I was in therapy every Monday for about one year since my post-graduate depression pushed me to the brink of suicidal (though I never admitted those feelings to anyone at the time) and I felt talking to someone as often as possible was the best choice I had. In October I wrote about what my past two months were like outside of therapy after I told my psychologist I was okay and could move on. In that post I wrote “I felt I’d exhausted most of my talking points (like I’m in a debate or something?) and I had nothing left to gain each week. The majority of my meetings are focused on past love traumas and after a whole year of almost weekly discussions, I don’t think I can handle diving any deeper into previous pain than we already have. Because of those feelings, I’ve spent the last two months without one therapy session. My therapist was wonderful, so my sudden lack of interest in meeting wasn’t her fault in any way. She gently pushed, encouraged, and validated me even when I couldn’t name what I was feeling. I think my issue with feeling like I have nothing else to gain from my weekly sessions and why I’ve needed the last two months is that I simply do not want to let go of my trauma. Obviously emotional wounds don’t just go away within a year of talking about them, but I shouldn’t be holding my suffering as close as I do.” In August I was unwilling to let go of any of my pain and chose instead to brush past deeply rooted trauma because I didn’t know how to deal with certain situations. EMDR stopped working for me (or rather I was done utilizing the process) so one day I decided to see what I would be like outside of therapy. Thankfully organizing, spending time with my loved ones, and molding new relationships gave me so much joy that I no longer felt the debilitating anxiety and depression I once had. Of course I’m not “cured” from my anxiety and depression and in fact, I had my first panic attack in one year last week. Before my therapy sessions I wouldn’t have known what to do while I was panicking, but when I had my recent panic attack, I allowed myself to feel every overwhelming feeling and sit with those emotions until I calmed down. I’ve felt a lot more anxious recently than I have over the last eight months because of certain stressful situations, but I find journaling, blogging, and talking about my stressors with close loved ones brings me peace. I’m learning how to stick up for myself more and establish my boundaries in workplace and organizing settings, which has also made me feel confident and less overpowered or taken advantage of. And in those moments where I feel overwhelmed and on the verge of depressed, I communicate my exact emotions with my loved ones and give myself space to feel however I do and know that if I really need her, my therapist is still one call away.

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