This is a rough of one of the chapters of my memoir. I wanted to share what I have so far as it is a topic of great importance in my life espeically as I work towards working on my social anxiety.
Therapy can be the Difference
I struggled in the years before I was able to receive help in the form of a therapist. I had to deal with my depression, anxiety, and even my social anxiety with little help before therapy. I got help with medications with my many psychiatrists, but I never had someone to talk to about my problems. It made me really self-conscious about talking about my issues.
When I have dealt with a mental illness since 2014, I have found steady footing in therapy. It comes down to the right therapist at the right time. I was able to get a real therapist who understands and in a real way, gets who I am. It really changed my life.
During the duration of the last ten years, I have only been in therapy for three of those years. I have been lucky so far to have only one therapist.
One of the reasons therapy was never available to me was because of insurance. I didn’t have insurance until 2014. Obamacare changed the course of my diagnosis is major ways. I will write about that in other chapters of my memoir.
Getting health insurance for the first time changed the game for my diagnosis. For the first time, it was possible to get more help. It was no longer seeing my psychiatrist for medicine changes and refills. It was possible for the first time to talk about my issues. It opened up the possibility of writing being a part of my life again. Without opening up for the first time in my life in therapy, there would be no Bipolar Writer blog or memoir.
I have been a part of my local behavioral health system since 2007 after my first suicide attempt. I was skeptical the first time they told me that I would get a therapist. Since my first psychiatrist left in 2012, it has been a carousel of one psychiatrist after another. I was never good at opening up about my life and that was no different in 2014. I was content to deal with my issues on my own, but this was only made my issues worse. I never thought that therapy would change everything. It’s important to look at what caused I believe that dealing with my problems was just up to me.
My case was so bad in 2007 that my local behavior health department had no choice but to take me in to see a psychiatrist. If you have dealt with the “system” you know that they will limit you at every corner when you don’t have insurance. The catch-22 is the classification of having a “pre-existing” condition. When I first applied for insurance from the state of California, they said my diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder was pre-existing. It makes getting help at the state level almost impossible. At least until Obamacare.
Without therapy, I would never have found the strength to share my experiences with the world.
It was in therapy that I first found the strength to share my past and started to understand what was going on in my life. Up to this point, I had shared my past with my psychiatrists at some level, but never in depth like I did in therapy. It was slow and steady at first as I worked to get comfortable.
My nature was always to share the least amount of my life. My therapist helped me get through some of the worst depression cycles of my life. We have worked hard in the last year in getting my anxiety in a better place. It’s not perfect but that is because for years I never dealt with my problems.
Therapy means the world in my life. To have a steady presence in my life in the form of my therapist. I have in my therapist someone who understands when I am depressed and I miss appointments. My therapist understands that during my long eight week college semesters I will stress out. I will put undue pressure to perfect.
My therapist has helped me understand the perfectionist side of who I am. My therapist helped me see the little victories during my week can help relieve stress. Often, she tells me I am being too hard on myself and that I always get good grades and complete my writing goals.
It is important to my mental health to work through my issues one session at the time. Three years ago it was impossible to talk about my past. I was never open to the idea of talking about my issues. I was happy to never deal with my issues. The truth, I was far from happy and my issues only got worse.
It amazes me still that therapy has been such a difference in my life. It has helped me take my recovery to real life goals that I am always working towards and make them real. My last suicide attempt in 2010 was a major step in the right direction. But, I was still lost. I found myself in going back to school, but there was always something missing. Therapy was the key to pushing myself to work on my mental health goals outside my life goals.
For so long I thought to work on my mental health was an impossible task. It no longer feels that way when I wake up each day. Seeing success in therapy changed the game for my mental health.
I still have to work at it each day. This means keeping my depression at acceptable levels during the winter time. It’s becoming clear that no matter how much I plan, there will still be days that things don’t go right. Now I can accept this reality, and move on.
When I wake up in the morning with the feeling of not wanting to do “life,” I have coping skills. I give myself a break and only do things that make me happy like writing or reading a book. I make a pledge to do better the next day. I know what my limits are and walk away from what I am working on at that moment when reaching my limits. “Tomorrow is another day” is something I learned in therapy and it has become my mantra. I was never good at letting go when life wasn’t perfect. I realized every day there is imperfection.
In the past, I would have waited weeks to call back my therapist. When it came to dealing with my depression I always thought I had to deal. Now I usually call ahead if things beyond my control are keeping me from making an appointment. When depression got a hold of me it would take weeks to get back to normal in the past. With therapy, I learned that depression means slow down. I do that, and now I bounce back better every time depression takes me down that road.
I don’t force myself to be productive in my life. I find the flow of each day and continue to grow. Knowing that we have limits in this life is important. What drove me before was the need to make up all the years that I have lost since my diagnosis. I realize I can’t make up those years all at once. I need to find the flow of my writing. I need to be who I am, The Bipolar Writer.
A chapter in my memoir such as this one is so important for me to share with the world. I can’t emphasize the importance of how talking out your issues in therapy is what can change your life. I know from my blog that some people find group therapy helpful. If that is what helps you, make the decision go that route. Find a group that will help you work through the issues. It could be important to you to do both individual and group therapy. Find what works for you and go with it.
I know for some, it might be impossible right now to seek therapy. It could be the lack of insurance like it was for me, but don’t ever let that stop you. It can be a fight to get help, but it is worth the fight for every person living with a mental illness. There are resources out there that are free. Research is your best friend. If you are going through a tough depression cycle, suicidal thoughts, or even anxiety. It is important for you to seek help. It is important to talk about your issues. Find someone that you trust to talk to a close family member or friend.
If that doesn’t work, there are so many amazing mental health blogs out there that you could talk to the blogger. Use a fictitious name if it’s easier. I have found writing my blog under my pseudonym to be a way to tell my story without actually using my name, helpful. It can also be therapeutic.
If I have learned anything over the course of the last ten years it’s this. When you hold on to your problems it only makes it harder to recover from your issues.
I will end this with a plea to get help if you need and never be afraid that no one will understand.
James Edgar Skye
Please Help me Publish my Memoir
I am almost done editing my memoir “The Bipolar Writer,” and I have decided to go down the self-publishing route. If you can donate anything towards my goal, it would mean the world to me. I am still working towards enough to pay an artist for a good cover. Those that donate will get a special mention in my memoir on a page dedicated to those that made my memoir possible. Thank you in advance!