Saturday, June 12, 2010

Raw, Open, Beating, and Vulnerable

One of the hardest things for me since my diagnosis is the knowledge that it affects more people than just me, and the way it affects me affects others.  The truth is that I've always had problems with depression, and now is no exception.  I'm actually doing a lot worse than I usually let on.

Not wrist-cutting-bad, but going-to-the-bathroom-just-to-cry-bad.  I have dysthymia, which is basically chronic (long-term) "mild" depression.  People with dysthymia are mostly functional (unlike people generally are when they have full-blown "major" depression), and it's common for them to go without treatment since they think of that mild depression as "normal."  I have sought out treatment, whenever it got to its worst.  I take Wellbutrin and I visited with a counselor briefly last summer.  But, because depression is "normal" for me, I've made a habit of pretty much never reaching out.  My husband, bless him, is very willing to listen and support me.  So is my mother.  I've had numerous friends express a desire to be there for me.  But if I were to talk about the way I feel every single day?  Lay that out--raw, open, beating, and vulnerable--on the table?  Hell, *I* wouldn't want someone to show me that on such a regular basis.  So... I never do.  The two people I'm closest to see some of that when I'm really and truly in need... but they're also the two people I care about most, so I'm always afraid of hurting them in the process.  So, I often hold back when maybe I don't need to.  Hell, during the composition of this entire post, I'm fighting the urge to delete it because I worry about what people will think of me, or that someone close to me might feel bad to discover how I'm feeling.

This, I've found, is one of the things a professional counselor/psychologist/psychiatrist is good for.  There is no fear with a counselor; that counselor isn't there to like me, and he can't do his job unless I'm honest with him.  His opinion of me isn't going to lessen because I always talk about my negative emotions, I'll never scare him off with neediness, and he will never be adversely affected by knowing how badly off I am... At least, no more than the common emotional toll that drives many mental health professionals to also have their own shrink.

So, I am looking forward very much to going back to the same counselor I saw last summer, a week from Monday.  I was hoping for an earlier appointment, but I have no free leave left and had to opt for an evening time slot... of which he does not have many.  I'll soon get to talk to someone who isn't emotionally invested in me or my health, other than wanting to help me get better.  He was also great at putting things in perspective for me, and making me face important issues I'd normally like to ignore (like my social anxiety, and the too-high expectations I have for myself).  I'll be going to talk about coping with my new chronic illness, but god knows I have numerous other problems I need to deal with right now...

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