When Are You Finished With Therapy?

In January 2018, I had just been dumped (seven days after New Years), I was working a job I hated, I was still living at home, and I was so depressed that the only options I saw for my future were to start therapy or suffer a nervous breakdown. I could feel the breakdown looming just outside the edge of my emotions. I was holding on by a thread; a thread that was frayed and about to snap. I knew I couldn’t do this on my own anymore. I needed help.

I sat in the therapists office on the verge of tears, ringing my shaking hands like I was washing them in soapy water, as I began to explain my situation. This was only going to work if I talked, I knew. I hated talking to people, especially strangers. But I knew I had to talk or it would have been a wasted trip and a waste of money. So I talked. And more came out than I ever expected from myself.

In my first hour session of therapy, I unloaded all of my deepest baggage in the hopes that she would be able to guide me away from the hypothetical ledge of my nervous breakdown.

It was this or the bridge.

One year ago yesterday (as I am writing this), I stepped into the therapists office for the first time. Yesterday, I walked out after having been put on “maintenance”, which meant I was done until I felt I needed to come back in again.

We had reached a point where I had nothing left to talk about. Things were going well. I had started working another part time job, I was in a healthy relationship with a wonderful man, I had coping mechanisms to help me when I was feeling anxious, and I was finally medicated to help deal with my depression and anxiety which before had completely consumed my life.

There was nothing left to talk about.

But life always has its ups and downs. I know that there may come a day when I will need to go back to her. That may be the result of a death in the family, another break up, financial struggles, or something completely unexpected.

So to answer the question “When are you finished with therapy?” I think no one is ever really done. You just enter periods of your life that are easier to manage on your own. But don’t feel bad about going back, starting your sessions back up, or asking for more help. Therapists and life coaches are there to give you advice, help you through the hard times, and get you back on your feet. They are an anchor in the angry sea of life. Allow them to ground you and guide you.


To find a therapist near you, check Psychology Today.

For more posts regarding my mental health journey, check out: Dealing With A Life Plateau, Things Become Okay, and Sunday Pep Talk | Trust Yourself.

Thank you for reading! Stay up to date with new blog posts by following me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

 

Take care, and don’t forget to take your medications!

Kat

Forgive Yourself

Everyone in all the self help books and healing books and blogs and therapy tell you the same thing. They always say that in order to move on from the grievous situations in our lives, we must forgive. Through forgiveness we release any negative emotions we once held on to, and by doing so, are able to fill up that empty space with positivity.

That’s great! It’s wonderful! Forgiveness feels so good.

But when was the last time you forgave yourself?

The Feedback Loop

How many of you talk badly to yourselves? Our inner voice is so harsh and judgmental when it comes to our own mistakes. Sometimes people that we love will tell us that we should be kinder to ourselves, that we should imagine our inner voice talking to us as if we were a friend. But how many of us follow that advice?

It’s easy to forgive someone else who has wronged you, to take the righteous path, to be the better person. It’s much harder to forgive yourself.


If you find yourself saying things like:

  • I should have known better
  • I did this to myself
  • I knew I shouldn’t have done that
  • I guess this is what I deserve
  • Nothing ever changes because I’m a loser
  • Great, you screwed up again, asshole
  • I don’t deserve to be forgiven

it’s time to forgive yourself.


Often these self-depricative statements can become a feedback loop that spirals down and down until you are so beaten down into a pit by your own inner voice that you feel that you will never be able to crawl back to the surface. In psychology they call this ruminative thinking, and it can be obsessive, leading to anxiety or even depression.

Inner Child Exercise

Take some time today to sit down and have a good long talk with your inner child. Close your eyes and imagine the younger version of yourself (maybe five or six years old) sitting across from you. Imagine them in all their awkward, messy purity. Imagine them until you feel that you have connected with that deep inner soul within yourself, and then forgive them. Tell them what they need to hear, the way a child needs to be told. Be gentle. Be calm. Allow your adult self to soothe and support the parts of you that you feel ashamed of, or embarrassed of, or angry towards.


If you find yourself struggling to think of things to say, try any one of these that resonate with you:

  • It wasn’t your fault
  • It was nothing that you did or didn’t do
  • It’s ok to make mistakes
  • You learned so much from that situation
  • You did not waste your time
  • You will do better next time
  • You are perfect just the way you are
  • You are loved
  • You are not alone
  • Everything will be ok
  • I forgive you
  • I forgive myself

To forgive yourself is to let go of all the negative emotions that you harbor towards yourself. If you find yourself in a situation that is painful or interminable, it is ok to acknowledge that you made a mistake, and it is also ok to learn from that experience and move forward. You do not have to stay in a negative situation or mindset just because you feel that you deserve it. No one deserves that. So many of us feel guilt over “failed” relationships, missed connections, missed opportunities, or poor communicative interactions. There is no need to hold on to that guilt. You learn something from every life experience. Not everything in life is meant to be pleasant, or positive, or make you feel good. Negative emotions exist to teach you things, but that does not mean that you must stay there.

Forgive yourself and move on. Be kind to yourself.

– Take Care, friends!

Depression Deconstruction

One of the most prominent thoughts I’ve had during my depression was a sense of deconstruction.

Instead of seeing my home as my home, it was only a building with four walls. It was knick-knacks and glass windows. I saw the house as it had been in the past. I thought about all the people who lived there before us and how they might have decorated it. The house was no longer my home. It was just a building constructed on a plot of land, and even the land didn’t feel like home to me any longer. It was just grass and concrete with too many cracks and a line of dying pine trees that were far past their prime. I thought about all the people who would live there after us. I imagined what it would be like when the house was no longer there, after it had been demolished or so old that it fell into disrepair. I viewed all of these things instantaneously, all at once, and it overwhelmed me, like the timeline stretched out before me and I couldn’t discern what was the present and what was the past or future.

Instead of seeing Pittsburgh as my city, I viewed it as any empty place with no one in it. There were no connections there for me. There were no memories to make it mine. There was no way to know the people in that city. I imagined what the city was like before I was there, and what it would be like in the future. I thought about how the city would be unchanged if I wasn’t there. I thought about how everything would be unchanged if I wasn’t there.

I no longer saw myself as part of the world. I viewed myself as an isolated being, disconnected from everything and everyone. The only comfort I had during this time was my art, my writing, which helped me leech some of that poison from my mind, but only temporarily before it returned. It was difficult to focus on the joys of simple pleasures. Food lost all taste, chores seemed redundant and pointless. Instead of living in the moment, I was stretched across the entire timeline of my life, seeing everything all at once.

It’s difficult to find meaning in your life when you see everything all at once, if you see all the possible ways it could end, and all of them are a disappointment to you. It is because of this timestretch that I adopted a general feeling of “why bother”. What’s the point in doing a load of laundry if it’s going to be there again in a week anyways. Why bother putting on makeup in the morning if you just have to take it off at night, and who has the energy to do that?

Some days I didn’t even want to get out of bed because I knew the daily routine, I knew how it ended every time, and I found no joy in it. Every day was exactly the same.
I no longer feel this way. Things are getting better for me. The obtuse view of life has finally narrowed enough for me to focus on the things that bring me joy. Like the opposite of tunnel vision, the narrowing brought my attention back to the small details of life. I began to take interest in cooking again, trying new recipes and finding excitement in the finished outcome. I come home now and see it as a place full of my own memories, things I had forgotten, and more than that, I see the potential for all the wonderful things that I can make happen there. I think about how wonderful it would be to sit in a nice clean room with a freshly vacuumed floor and enjoy some of my favorite food while watching a show that I like.

Life really is about the small pleasures, and for a person with depression, those finer details become lost in the overwhelming darkness. I just wanted to explore this feeling I’ve had in the past through writing. Can any of you relate to this? I’d love to hear from you!

Book Review | The Lotus Effect

 

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“By the same token, you aren’t information; you are that which is in formation—the indefinable essence that manifests as thoughts, feelings, and sensations. In short, you aren’t mind, you are the consciousness behind it.”
Pavel G. Somov, The Lotus Effect: Shedding Suffering and Rediscovering Your Essential Self 

Author Information

This book, written by local psychologist Pavel G. Somov PhD., details the importance of separating your true essence from that which you are not. Dr. Somov is the author of seven self help books including Present Perfect, Eating the Moment, and The Smoke-Free Smoke Break. He works primarily through a mindfulness approach in his profession in order to focus on growth, wellbeing, and self-awareness.


 

I read this book in the span of a weekend, and only that slowly so that I could take in all the information that was presented. The book is relatively small, but the amount of stuff crammed within its pages took a lot of mental cognition to comprehend. Reflection after each chapter is highly recommended when reading The Lotus Effect. After all, it is a book on self improvement, not meant for entertainment but meant for you to think and rethink.

The title, The Lotus Effect, is based on the idea of a lotus flower that blooms immaculately from the muddy environment that it was planted in. The petals of the lotus flower are self cleaning, meaning that it does not take in any of the environmental muck around it. These factors simply bead up and slide off the petals, leaving it pristine and pure. In the same way, he encourages the reader to brush off the environmental elements that might be dragging you down, muddying your consciousness, and creating stress in your life.

I found myself being reminded of the movie Fight Club as I read through the exercises in this book. I am not my job. I am not my associations. I am not my weight. “You are not your fucking khakis.” The point of these statements is to de-identify with everything that ties you to this world so that you can re-identify with what you truly are; the essence of your being. It’s a lot to wrap your mind around, but once you begin to understand the principles he is trying to convey, you begin to really start rethinking the way you see the world around you, and yourself as well.

This book not only details his principles, but also includes several mindfulness exercises you can participate in as you read. These include writing on your mirror with an erasable marker. Fun! Of course, you don’t have to do the exercises detailed in the book. It’s enough just to imagine it in your head. But these exercises really help you to visualize the points he is trying to make.

Should you read it?

Yes! I recommend this book to anyone feeling stuck in life, or tied to materialism. This book offers a unique perspective on mindfulness, and helps draw awareness to what really matters; the essence of your being. It’s a quick read, but I encourage you to spend some time on it, pausing for breaks to really let the information sink in so that you can get the full effect of the message. I can see how this information might not resonate with everyone, but the point of the book is to think, so even if you draw a negative conclusion after reading it, I’m sure you can walk away having learned something about yourself. And I think that’s kind of the point.