My psychologist is letting me go … in a good way. A couple of sessions ago I said to her: “I’m getting better, aren’t I?”
She replied with a statement that I’m sure is in the textbook entitled Therapy 101: “What makes you say that?”
Ha! I was ready for her! “Because you’re laughing more in my sessions!” I said.
Apparently she was ready for me too. “That’s because you’re laughing more in your sessions.” she replied.
Damn! I wasn’t ready to be better
I’m not in therapy just for the fun of it. I signed myself up for this when I thought I was suffering with clinical depression. A psychiatrist I’ve talked with told me once that people who show up with their own diagnosis are always wrong. I’m batting 500, I guessed my ADHD and was right, but my diagnosis of depression was way wrong.
I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken
Oh, I was depressed, no doubt about that, but it was a result of internalized grief, delayed grief. In late 2006 my mother, the person I credit with fostering my self esteem, was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. In September of 2007 she and I said goodbye for the last time.
By this time my mother in law had become the obvious victim of Alzheimer’s Disease. As my mother left my world, my mother in law moved into my home and required ongoing and increasing help and attention. I unknowingly put my grief aside to meet this new challenge.
In the middle of 2009, she too passed away.
By this time my wife was suffering daily. The loss of her mother did not help in her battle with chronic pain. In my usual stoic fashion, I tried to deal, and to help.
That’s when I became aware of my depression, or what I thought was my depression! Wanting not to fail my wife when she needed me, I began the search for help that would lead me to my psychologist, my delayed grief diagnosis and my ADHD diagnosis.
I’ve struggled with my mental health, never feeling threatened, but always wanting to feel less emotionally tired and dark. In July of 2011, I lost my wife and lost my bearings for a while. Nearly all of the people I had thought would be there for me were there. There were exceptions. Some of my wife’s family were in too much pain to be able to support me, and one of my dearest friends was eventually unable to stay near me when I needed her support.
But, as the song says, “If you try real hard, sometimes, you get what you need.” I was in need, and I threw myself on the mercy of my community. People gathered around and several of them selected themselves to become my friends, my support group. My psychologist approved of them, they approved of her, and they all held me up until my legs could hold me again.
And now, my psychologist thinks I’m ready
I’m walking back into the afternoon sunlight of a day whose sunny morning was the first joyful part of my life.
My laughing aside, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t do this if I thought I was being completely abandoned. I have my psychologist’s number, her receptionist knows my name, I know I have friends behind the door that leads to her office.
But I have friends on the outside
I have friends and they are part of my strength. And I’m going to do my best to be proud of how far I’ve come.
I’m not leaping forward into the unknown, but I’m not taking timid little steps either. I’m walking back into the afternoon sunlight of a day whose sunny morning was the first joyful part of my life.
And, in truth, I think I’m ready for that. I can’t set down my grief, but it’s getting easier to carry.