When your life doesn’t work out, what do you do? When you feel something is not quite right but you can’t pinpoint what it is. When you keep wondering how other people manage to cope with life but you’re too afraid to ask. When you do hesitantly talk about it to your friends, you notice that somehow they are happy. They do cope and that they don’t worry so much as you do. Off course, you don’t advertise your doubts and struggles. At least, I didn’t. Instead I tried to make my life ‘perfect’. Because once ‘perfect,’ every worry, every dark thought would automatically wash away.
The winding road of therapy is accompagnied by depression and burnout. This is my journey with dead ends, wrong turns, peaceful resting places and signposts.
I write about my quest to find the right therapeutic intervention for me. As I have a long history with the subject, I presume it will be a post in different parts. I don’t see a big value in summing up what I thought and did to find the most suitable therapy because of the nature of the journey. Rather I would like to describe how ‘talk-therapy’ and other forms of therapy showed up in my life. It’s more a story than ‘helpful or practical advice’. Practical advice I cannot give as therapy is an uniquely hesitant answer to an individual situation/symptom. And to add to that, my journey as up to now is not to pinpoint into a single period in time but it rather stretches throughout my life span. What the symptoms did, is that they intensified sometimes and then again went more to the background. So the need to find help also did fluctuate.
On an important note, the topic of suicide does appear throughout the blogs. If it is a sensitive topic to you, I would rather give you a heads up instead of confronting you with it out of the blue.
- Childhood and teenage years.
As a child and a teenager I experienced some losses and intrusive life-changes. Is it this that made me vulnerable to feeling as I do now? I don’t know. What I do know, is that I survived all of that but I always had the feeling of being ‘alone’. Fact is that I didn’t have a big support system. As a child I liked to ‘escape’ reality or maybe I was just an avid reader. Words and stories can be soothing.
When I was 13 or 14 the topic of suicide, death and mortality did cross my young life through events. Not having an outlet for these themes and being, well… just a teenager, I started to struggle with some questions. Questions like: ‘Is suicide an option?’ ‘Is it morally possible or is it just plain wrong?’ ‘How much misery can a person live through?’ ‘What are factors that can contribute to such suffering?’ I was unhappy, again maybe just ‘teenage blues’, I don’t know. I cried a lot and secretly I wanted the attention –any attention – of my mother. Well it did work. To an extent.
She took me to her GP. I had this fantasy that the GP would have a look into the dynamic of our relationship or maybe would pose a question regarding my thoughts, both dark and hopeful. It was like a cold shower. My mother did speak for me during the appointment and the GP concluded that I ‘could be depressed’. I was 16. I was a teenager, so naturally I rebelled. (I actually love this part of me, the rebel one is a fun girl!) I rebelled partially because I didn’t get out of the appointment what I needed at the time. I was in need of an elevation of my thoughts. And another part of me rebelled against being possibly ‘diagnosed’. I did not want to be a ‘category.’ I wanted to be me! So I stood up, told the GP that depression could not possibly be the case and I made a promise to myself in that moment that I would choose to be happy. That did work, I became more cheerful, changed my major subject in school and found more of a niche. I got my first real boyfriend and struggled on with finding my voice in life.
Once high school finished I didn’t know what to do. I considered different options. Eventually I decided to study psychology. Not my first choice. What I really wanted to do, was to tell my story. My self-esteem was low and I didn’t believe at that time that I had actually a story to tell.
Maybe it’s just that what I am doing with my blog. Telling my story, like I always wanted to.
Back to psychology. Not understanding what did happen in my own family and why there was so much secrecy and tension there, I hoped to find insight into ‘people and their interactions’ through an in-depth study. So now, we are arriving at my first real encounter with therapy. Still on a theoretical level but for me it was very interesting.
In this post I covered the childhood and teenage years. Next week , I’ll write about young adulthood. I promise you we’ll arrive at more concrete insights into the value and difficulties with therapy as I encounter today. But as I stated earlier, it is all part of a bigger landscape, so bear with me if you will. Thank you for taking this walk with me.