Monday is therapy day. One week we meet at noon; the other we meet at 6pm. I like the evening time better, but E leads a group on alternate Monday evenings.
We’ve had some intense weather here, and at 10:00 Monday, E texts me to ask if we can meet at 3:45 instead of noon. She’s not sure she can get to her office before noon because of the ice. It’s fine, I say. She made a similar request back in July that sent me into weeks of agonized distrust. Well, it wasn’t quite the same. In July it was because she wanted to cluster all of her appointments closer and go home early. Regardless, this time it didn’t bother me. Progress.
In session, I don’t have a lot to say. We have been sitting on the floor, coloring or drawing, for weeks now. I tell her, “Let’s just color.” I like that she’s nearby. But I don’t feel like there is anything she can do for me.
She’s sorry I am feeling this low. She’s concerned because it keeps coming back. I’m thankful she cares, and I believe her, but that’s not changing anything.
I think I usually try to shelter her from my despair, my husband too. I don’t want to bother them. I don’t want to be a drag. So I often say I’m doing “okay” when in fact I’m thinking I could buy a gun and then blow my brains out in the parking lot. Today, though, I decide I’m going to open that window and let E see what’s inside.
“I just can’t keep going like this,” I tell her. “It’s so much work, and nothing really changes. I’m not being mopey. I’m recognizing how it really is.”
She reminds me of things that have been good in my life, like my trip to Ecuador in 2015. I wasn’t depressed then, she says.
“That’s true, I wasn’t,” I said. “But that was three weeks. Those good periods don’t last. Even quitting my job hasn’t helped.”
She says if I think about my past five years overall and imagine the next five years being similar, what do I feel? Honestly, I explain, I’d rather be dead. The good periods aren’t enough to compensate for this relentlessness. I know I’m down right now, and I know that distorts my judgment–but still. I don’t even know who I am except for depressed.
She asks me directly, “Would you kill yourself?”
“I would,” I say. “It would be a relief. But I feel like I don’t have that option. Andres needs me. My husband has said to me nothing could devastate him more.”
“So you feel responsible,” she says.
“And trapped,” I say.
“I can see why you’d feel like that,” she tells me. “I mean, I’d be devastated too. I don’t want you to do that. But I can see why, when you feel so bad, dying seems like a relief.”
She looks at me, clear-eyed, not afraid to talk about this, not rushing to tell me everything will be okay, or I’ll feel better, or I should never think about suicide. She doesn’t try to rush me away from the topic. I appreciate this about her.
She says something to the effect of, “If this is what it’s going to be like for you, we have to find ways to increase the positive experiences, to bring you as much contentment and satisfaction as possible.”
I can hardly get out of bed this week, so it’s hard to imagine what that looks like. But she’s right. If I can’t kill myself, I have to make this bearable.
We talk about finding a new psychiatrist. The psychiatric nurse I’ve been seeing for six years is not on my new insurance plan, and anyway, I don’t feel like she listens to me. E says she’ll take the list of providers on my plan to her consultation group and see if she can get recommendations. She will also call the psychiatric nurse I have seen before. She will also call my insurance and see if they will pay for sessions longer that 45 minutes (hallelujah); sometimes they will grant a waiver to make it possible. I can see she’s trying hard to support me.
That means I have to try, too. I don’t have the option to give up.
Q, I’m sorry you’re doing so bad, but I really can release. I felt so suicidal last week I really thought I was going to end it. I felt so on safe. I want to tell you that I really like you and don’t want you to kill yourself but I do understand the hopelessness and despair. Sending you tons of hugs and much love XXX
Oh, dear, I’m so sorry you have been in such a hopeless place. I appreciate the understanding more than you know, but I’d really prefer that you weren’t so intimately familiar with these feelings.
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Thank you for being honest with us, too. You don’t have to be “okay” or sanitize your experience for us. Your pain and despair and hopelessness are okay with me, you get to feel how you feel and I am holding your pain with a lot of care.
Thank you, Rachel. It is a relief to be able to be honest and not frighten people away with the ickiness of it all.
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Yes, thank you for being honest.
Hope you are still able to believe the girl, and take care or her and listen to her. Take care.
Believing the girl is certainly an issue when the depression is severe. It’s hard to know what to think. I realize that I am not thinking as clearly as I should, but knowing that doesn’t tell me what to believe. I think it might be helpful for me to take a position such as “when I’m very depressed, my thinking is distorted, and I can’t make major decisions nor come to conclusions about things in my past. My job when I am depressed is to hang in there.” Something like that.
I appreciate the honesty and the fact that you’re willing to go there with us and E. I can hold your pain with tender care.
Just those words, “tender care,” bring tears to my eyes. And I am someone who never really cries, so even tears in my eyes is a lot. (I wish sometimes i knew how to let them go and really cry it all out.) Tender care is a very beautiful thought.
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I am glad for you that you can be honest with E and that she doesn’t add to the pressure by trying to make you feel guilty. I hope that together you can find some things which will improve how you’re feeling. It sounds like you’re in terrible pain right now.
It has been very bad these last few weeks. I’m glad too that E is steady and not overwhelmed by the dreary darkness of it all. That makes it easier to talk. With my husband, it’s still hard, even though he wants to be supportive. I see that he is pained by my experience of depression, which makes me still want to tone it down for him.
And thank you for your good wishes. I appreciate them so much.
Q, I am thinking of you. You don’t have to be anything but yourself here… and I am glad that E is being as supportive as she is, and working with you. I’m here if you need me xx
Such a perfect response, thank you. Being accepted as my bleak and boring self, not having to pretend, feels like a relief. I appreciate your willingness to be there, especially when I know you have no shortage of things going on in your own life. xo
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Pretending is so draining, isn’t it. Especially when we don’t realize we are pretending. I am definitely willing to be here. Always. Xx
This is such an impossibly difficult space to be in. Glad to see you’re writing about it and actively problem solving. Thinking of you x