• Lauren Morris

A Peek into My Mental Health on World Mental Health Day

It’s World Mental Health Day and I’m a proponent of normalizing our mental health needs. For the millions who struggle they often feel alone. It’s why we need to talk about it. Share our stories when we are ready. Discuss what it’s like to ask for help and whatever else it takes to make people feel less alone.

I often feel therapy makes everything worse, a little better, then back to even worse, and so on goes the cycle. Honestly, the pain of abandonment every week is tiring. You pay a person trained to handle all the garbage life has thrown at you, leave the office, and once again are on your own.

The idea, I suppose, is each week it gets a bit easier and you become better equipped to put together the pieces. The typical therapy set-up of weekly sessions doesn’t seem to serve the best interest of the client. At least not a client with complex and long-standing issues or trauma. There is a vast power difference between therapist and client. Somehow many of us keep at it, even allowing ourselves to trust the person, despite the system, and I don’t think clients get enough credit for that.

I’m convinced this week is the last week I’ll be seeing my therapist. It’s been nearly a year and I have just begun to open up. With that, I’ve been able to take some small steps of courage. Having my husband become more involved in the process, having more difficult conversations when I attend my son’s sessions, and even asking for an extra session.

The flip side is that my husband and therapist didn’t have an opportunity to connect which means back home it’s a whole new week, maybe even more, of feeling completely alone because we are at an impasse, my son a little lost in his own sessions while figuring out if he’s making progress, and not being able to get into an extra session because last-minute scheduling is always tough.

Thing is all of that piled on with my ongoing intrusive thoughts, images that I can’t seem to shake, a timeline I don’t understand, and unable to articulate or feel my grief, I’m convinced the next time I show up I’ll be informed I am expecting too much, have too many needs that cannot be met by this particular person and it’s time for me to go. It sucks. I do a lot of crying. I do a lot of self-talk, lean on CBT, and because of how deep the dysfunction and fear goes I won’t share it out loud. In many ways, I’m upset with myself for getting to the point I could trust just enough to believe it’s possible another person could help someone like me.

In the past, I never had a therapist stay patient with my timeline on when I could share. Here are some medications, a few sessions, some coping skills, and on to the next person. Because I could function, in fact, highly function then I must be fine. The couple’s therapy we tried after the birth of our third was worse. My husband not being held accountable, being told I am indeed wrong in not wanting to leave tiny helpless babies for a couple of hours. Never once asking why I would be so protective of a child. What, even if unintentionally, my husband is doing to invalidate my existence. So just giving therapy a try one more time was a big leap and the payoff is every week I live in fear of getting fired, the pain of not being seen, the loneliness of post-session processing. Maybe this is part of why so many people don’t go to therapy. On World Mental Health Day, yes, of course, we need to destigmatize, discuss access, barriers, and cost. We also need to discuss how difficult it is to be a client.

Maybe I am getting fired this week. Maybe my brain is lying. Regardless, here are things I still am unable to say and know needs attention in therapy:

I could benefit from a second weekly session or perhaps just something as simple as a single text mid-week reminding me the work is hard and I don’t have to do it alone. I know it’s needy but maybe the extra security, in time, will teach me that I can provide my own security. I’m an adult who understands boundaries, ethics, and the value of time. I also don’t yet exist in relationships where I can be okay feeling needy, expressing those needs, and understand my wants. It would be nice to have a safe space to do just that. I will never get a reset of my life nor forget what has happened so for once maybe being needy, whiny, and broken can be honored.

How entrenched my abusers are in my timeline including my adult life.

That I don’t get credit for keeping my son alive.

That I don’t get credit for keeping me alive.

That I never got to experience the closeness of family where cousins are your first friends and it only became more lonely and unsafe as I grew older.

That what I hoped for as I created my own family was shattered over and over.

That I’ll never really go back to improv and I hate how much it hurts.

That navigating a disability on top of my other health challenges isn’t just physically exhausting but emotionally bullies me.

That moving has nothing to do with thinking depression/anxiety changes if topography changes and every day I live here a piece of me disappears that I’ll never get back.

I’ll never have experienced little things like apple picking with my three little boys.

There is no spontaneous anything when your child has 15 medications required daily.

That I don’t believe it gets better because it never did.

I have coping skills. I cope every day. That’s not living.

I will never get to choose my “firsts”.

I don’t know how to hold people accountable while also knowing they too are broken. It’s an impossible task.

That I’d like to be okay knowing I’m not okay.

That it wasn’t my fault.

That I am enough.

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