Today, I had my last therapy session — barring, of course, a relapse of OCD/mood disorder symptoms in the future. Aside from appointments with my psychiatrist to make sure that my medication is still keeping moods under control and anxiety attacks at bay, I have completed treatment.

It’s something my therapist and I discussed at my last session, so I knew it was coming, but it still feels like a major accomplishment.

When I first entered therapy, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew that the point of treatment was to hopefully, eventually reach a goal and finish up, but it seemed so out of reach then — or even a year ago.

And now, it’s here, and I have done so many things I never expected to do!

  • I feel comfortable leaving my apartment, and don’t spend the entire time worrying about fires and burglars. (Also, I can write out those fears, although it does make me uncomfortable.)
  • I can eat pork and beef without worrying about contamination. When I do worry about tainted food (like the April listeria outbreak), it’s for a day or two and not weeks at a time. I used mindfulness to move past it rather than trying to force it from my mind.
  • I no longer worry about committing acts of violence toward others.
  • I still get intrusive thoughts about harming myself, but they don’t cause the same anxiety they once did, and I don’t obsess as much. I have not had suicidal ideation for nearly a year.
  • I no longer visit the doctor or veterinarian over imagined symptoms. I and my cats are much happier for it.
  • I still worry about rabies, but only here and there, and rarely for more than 24 hours. I used mindfulness here, too.
  • I have conquered a ton of minor phobias and compulsions, such as a fear of the numbers 4 and 13, a compulsion to unplug all of my appliances every time I leave my apartment or go to sleep, returning home to check my lock several times, etc.
  • I came out to my family and then generally.
  • I quit my job and began a career as a freelance writer (and it wasn’t impulsive, but something I built up to over several months).

That’s a lot. More than I realized actually.

It took me nearly two years of therapy, which was weekly at times and included classes as well as one-on-one sessions. It also took coming to terms with the fact that my mental illness would be better treated and controlled with medication. I take an SSRI and lithium, and will likely be on them for the rest of my life — but it’s worth it to me, if my symptoms are under control. And they’re not with exposure therapy and coping techniques like mindfulness alone.

This doesn’t mean I won’t ever need help in the future, but it does mean I am a lot better equipped to deal with my mental illness — including a safety net that encompasses my family, friends, therapist and psychiatrist.

Don’t give up. Sometimes it takes extra time to find out what works for you. It took a lot of hard work, and I will need to pay close attention to my moods and mental state, but for now, I’m good.

Photo by Kiwi Tom