Today my mental illness is a disability. It’s not always like this, but today it is. There’s no denying it. When you are curled up on the floor with your therapy dog in your lap sobbing uncontrollably in the restroom of a beauty salon, you know things are not okay. How did I get here? What happened?
The day started out with low motivation. Actually, I haven’t been feeling good for days leading up to this. For 48 hours over the weekend, my only social contact was a session with my therapist and two phone calls from my Mum. I felt very lonely. By today, Tuesday, I am feeling sad and down with a mild sense of frustration which I am not able to identify. Perhaps I am frustrated with myself. Perhaps I am frustrated with the situation of being lonely from over the weekend. For the first few hours of my workday, I sit at my desk and do anything but work. I am feeling agitated and I can’t concentrate on anything.
In Experiencing Anger and Frustration
Later in the day, I see my psychiatrist for our regular psychotherapy session. I didn’t expect to cry and I don’t know where the tears are coming from. He suggests I am in pain, and I agree. I only know that I am angry because I am hitting the leather chair. That’s anger. It’s one of the emotions I have the greatest difficulty in identifying, managing, and not directing toward myself.
My psychiatrist begins to ask me questions in order to explore this anger and I feel frustrated at his questions. I don’t want to talk about my feelings today because it is difficult. He isn’t going to give me all of the answers and he may not have them. He is there to guide me to find my own answers. All I am able to understand is that I don’t feel good, there is anger, and I am in considerable emotional pain. I tell him that I want to die but that I am not suicidal. He suggests that maybe it’s the feelings I don’t want to be experiencing and that I associate those feelings with living.
After one more good crying session, our 45 minutes of therapy are over and I have to leave. I schedule another appointment two weeks out. I am hyper-focused on wanting to hear back from my psychotherapist so that I can see him tomorrow. I send a second request of the day by text message and sigh in relief when he responds shortly thereafter. It is evening time.
Following Through With an Obligation
I have a beauty appointment later in the evening. I know that I do not have the emotional resilience to withstand the pain of laser hair removal on my face, but I drive there anyway. If I don’t show up they will charge me a fee. I ask the lady at the front desk if I’ve met with this nurse before. Right at that point I get tears in my eyes and ask to use the restroom. The rest of the story is over. That’s when I curl up on the floor, sobbing.
I’m guessing that this nurse thinks I’m really sensitive about who does my treatments. She has no way of knowing about my bad day. I think of telling her that the last time I was here I was feeling suicidal, but then I think better of it. This will just alarm her and she won’t know what to do or say.
The True Tears
I finally make it to my car where I can howl loudly and let the tears really roll behind closed doors. My therapy dog, Samuel, is in my lap. I realise that although I am basically out of food at home, I am not going to be able to survive a trip to the grocery store, yet again. When I had imagined earlier about going to the store I had started to get anxiety lest someone question me if my dog is a service animal. I hate and fear being asked that question because Samuel is my Emotional Support Animal (ESA) and not legally a service dog.
I imagine myself in a not-so-good moment retorting back in anger, “Do you want me to go home and kill myself?” None of this actually happens, but I imagine it to be so. I head home when it is safe to drive and my emotions are under control again. I get home, lay on the couch and pet my dog for half an hour before I fall asleep. It’s only 8:30. I have been doing this a lot lately. I have scary dreams in the mornings, which happens when I sleep too much. But it doesn’t make me want to get out of bed any earlier.
The Weight of the World
It’s now lunchtime the next day and I am counting down the hours until 6:00 when I get to see my therapist. I look less joyful than usual when using my fake smile to greet coworkers in the hallways. My shoulders are slumped at my desk because I feel the weight of the world on me and I have no motivation to sit up straight. As a result, my back is aching. If you are my coworker you would not think that there is anything unusual. I am isolated at my desk as I work independently and only have to interact with clients and the advisors over the phone. On better days I wish I would have more human interaction.
Tomorrow Will Be a Better Day
These last days have not been my best, but I remind myself to be kind and to have compassion for myself. Two of my three best friends I am not talking to right now. I feel all alone. Knowing that my therapist will be there soon, waiting for me as usual and without fail, helps me a lot. Maybe tomorrow will be a better day. Maybe I can just make it through the next hour.