Grief

Going Back to Therapy

In light of today being World Mental Health Day, I thought I would use this day to be open about my journey thus far and something I have not talked about too much. In June of this year, after extensive research, I decided to go back to therapy.

I don’t mean to say it as if it’s this big thing. It’s not. It’s a step for myself in the right direction, and it took a lot of courage to go back after some less than ideal experiences, previously.

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My Previous Experiences with Therapy

The first time I went to therapy was during my time in my undergrad when I was first diagnosed. I believe he was a psychiatrist and he was amazing. Maybe because I was vulnerable opening up about my symptoms, I felt comfortable telling him more about my life. He was the person I went to go see after my dad passed away. He was the person who helped me through three difficult years of living with a new diagnosis and all of the stresses I was dealing with at the time.

When I graduated, I was unable to continue to see him since he was at the school’s Wellness Centre. It’s awful. I can’t even remember his name. My nurse practitioner referred me to a free service through my family doctor if I wanted to continue seeking therapy. That lady ruined therapy for me. In just three sessions, I hated it. I felt so judged – a feeling I don’t think one should ever really feel during therapy. Not when you’re at your most vulnerable. I immediately shut down after my third session with her and stopped going for three years.

Why I Wanted to Go Back to Therapy

I decided to go back to therapy because my anxiety and depression were not in a good spot. My moods were all over the place. My thoughts were all over the place. Mood swings were wild. My physical health was suffering. I knew I couldn’t continue in the same routine. I needed something to change.

How I Found A Therapist 

The resource I used to find a therapist was Psychology Today. You can use the site to search for local mental health professionals in your area and read their bios to see what they specialize in, what kind of techniques they tend to use, and how much they charge. Many can be covered if you have insurance, but if you don’t have insurance, some charge on what is called a sliding scale – I tend to look for ones that have this as an option. I was interested in ones that specialized in areas such as anxiety, depression, and grief. I was also interested in developing more of a mind-body connection since I somaticize psychological symptoms into physical symptoms. I have found an excellent choice for me, which might not be best for you. We all may need different forms of help based on our needs.

What Sessions Are Like So Far

Since June, I have had 5 sessions. For my first session, my therapist did a hybrid of an “intake session” and an actual session so I could see if her methods fit with my expectations before going back to see her.

No one ever really tells you this but your first session feels like crap. I mean, I obviously found it valuable and have gone back since my first session. But for me, the first session was terrifying. I had to go to a new place, meet a new person, come in wearing my “people-person” smile and greetings, sit on a couch, and re-open wounds I thought I had healed but had really just patched with a band-aid. Although I’m not ready to disclose some of the things I talked about, I will say I cried so much in the first session. I cried happy tears, sad tears, and mad tears. I was all over the place yet again. But you know what? I left feeling so much lighter than when I had arrived. And every time I go, I feel a little bit lighter. She gives me strategies for getting through the days when I feel awful. She is an outlet to talk to things I have repressed from a very young age. I am listening to my body more. I am motivated to become a better version of myself.

The Stigma Around Therapy

Juan Pablo Galavis once said, “There’s a stigma on the word ‘therapy.’ People relate it to big problems. That’s something we have to change. Going to therapy can be very healthy. It can change the way you see things and treat others.”

Going to therapy shouldn’t be seen as this “big deal.” Just because you go to therapy, it doesn’t mean you’re mentally unstable. Sure, I may have a mental illness I’m living with, but you don’t NEED one to go to therapy. Therapy can be for everyone. It doesn’t mean you’re weak either. I am so strong for wanting to feel better. I’m proud of that. Psychology Today offers an article about The Stigma of Therapy that is worth reading.

If you are thinking about seeking help, know that you’re not alone. There are some excellent resources available through easy Google searches. We live in a world where there are e-counselling options. This is fantastic! You are not “crazy” for wanting to talk to someone. If you could be the best version of yourself, wouldn’t you want that? On World Mental Health Day, may we be reminded to continue to break the silence and fight the stigma.

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Four Years Later.

The concept of time is so strange. I’m laying in bed and it feels like no time has passed while simultaneously feeling like a lifetime since I last heard your voice.

Grief has no timeline. There are the five stages, sure, but past that, there is no telling when one feels certain emotions and thinks about certain things. I haven’t stopped missing you. I could never stop missing you. You gave me life. You gave me two sisters who I am also so grateful to have in my life to check on me and be there for me as I continue to transition through new stages in my life.

I had a breakdown the other night. I sobbed and sobbed over the first major snowfall and having to drive without snow tires. It was a bad breakdown. One of my largest in a while. And it wasn’t just because it was dark out and I had to find my way home. It wasn’t just because it was my first time driving in the snow all season. It reminded me of that day. This day, just four years ago. Except I was getting my tires put on. And the garage was down the street from the hospital. And instead of going straight home, I stopped in to visit. And it was my last time holding your hand and saying goodbye. Then, it started to snow harder. Although you did not have the energy to tell me, I could hear your voice telling me to drive home before it got worse. And it did get worse. The snow diminished the visibility on the road. I drove slow. I made it home. And I got the call.

The reoccurrence of the heavy snow, the limited visibility, it all brought me back to that day. And it felt like I was re-living it all over again.

But then I sit here and think about how it has been four years. So much has happened in this time that I wish you were here for and I mean, physically here for.  I would love to hear your voice during the dark times. To get advice. To have you listen. To tell me when I’m overreacting. To tell me not to worry about things I can’t control, even though I do. I can’t help it. It’s a trait I got from you.

For the limited time I did get to spend with you, I am grateful. I am so grateful. It wasn’t all good. And that is something I have been coming to terms with a lot in the past year as I continue to grow and learn about who I am. But I did gain some valuable life lessons from you, many of which I am only coming to appreciate now, at this point in my life, and memories I will hold near and dear to my heart forever and for always.

Love forever, your little leftover.

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The Fight Within

Today’s post is not about food. I am remaining compliant today and have 9 days left in Whole 30, but in the past 24 hours, something more important has taken over my thoughts. Apologies in advance for my disorganized array of thoughts.

Last night, I received news that a good friend is fighting hard with his battle with cancer but has unfortunately been placed in a palliative care unit in the hospital.

When I received the news, I froze. My first thought: I have to go visit him. My second thought: I haven’t stepped foot in that hospital since my dad died and I wasn’t sure I would be strong enough to do it. I want to and my intention is there, but these multi-level feelings of grief, weakness, and heartache are complicatedly woven. To the reader, it may not appear to be complicated. My anxiety lenses, however, would gravely disagree.

It’s not the first time in my life that someone I love has fought cancer or other medical battles. I get overwhelmed and frustrated that bad things happen to good people. I try to hold onto the idea that there must be some sort of greater meaning out of all of this.

But then this morning I received news that a friend from high school had suddenly passed away. A sweet girl who has just turned 25, just like I did last week, had her life cut tragically short.

I’m a hopeless romantic and an optimist at heart. I like to believe there is more good in the world than bad. But today is just a hard day. I send prayers to the families and friends of everyone I am thinking about today going through the hardships I mentioned as well as the people who have silent struggles and other hardships they are experiencing at this time.

On this motivational Monday, may we be able to look for the good in the world, have strength to face the bad, and learn lessons from both.

Three Years Later

Dearest daddio,

They say it gets better as time goes on. Well, here it is – three years later since I last held your hand and kissed you goodbye – and the pain feels fresh again like an open wound.

Each day this past week, it felt as if I was re-living everything all over again. There were grief triggers everywhere. And today, my drive home felt exactly like it did that very day three years ago. My snow tires were put on fresh, and the first heavy snowfall I have experienced this season hit hard and fast.

It’s hard to believe it has been three years. In many ways, it feels like barely any time has passed. In many more ways, I don’t even feel as though I am the same person I was when you left.

I graduated from my undergrad, I started my masters degree (and I am almost finished it!), I got a good job after graduation, I left that job for a job closer to home that I love, I got a new car, mom and I got a new place, I fell out of love, I dated, I found a boy who is everything you could ever hope for me and more (you would love him), and I have learned to love and appreciate the parts of myself that are more like you every day.

Mom is quick to tell me my road rage is similar to yours – but she doesn’t need to tell me that for me to know. Every time I scream in my car because a car is following too closely, I hear your voice. I’m more outspoken than I was – sometimes that is a good thing, and maybe other times, it isn’t. I’ve also started taking more time to do the things I love to do and taking time for myself. Whenever I feel as though I am piling too much on my plate, I hear your voice in the back of my mind.

You used to tell me all the time, you can’t worry about the things you can’t control – an ironic statement as anxiety flows through our family’s veins. While I could not control what happened to you, I try to take that statement with me and do my best not to sweat the small things or what the future may hold.

I could go on and on about all the life lessons you taught me but let me just say, I miss your voice and I miss your laugh more than anything in the world. I miss your terrible jokes that I have heard a million times but it would mean the world to me if I could hear the stupid “Little Johnny” joke with him and the bicycle.

I love you and I know you are with me every step of my journey – the signs are everywhere. I hope to continue to make you proud in everything I do and in everything that I am.

With love always,
your little leftover ❤

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