I am currently riding the high that comes with having found a good therapist while simultaneously somehow navigating the low that comes with knowing the work has only just begun. I left my first session this week with a page full of notes: resources to investigate, ideas to think on, and action steps to take. I also left with this surreal combination of bursting relief and ultimate despair. So much levity (my new therapist is anti-Tr*mp and -racist as well as pro-science and -social justice; we have plenty in common!) and also so much weight (depression is so heavy; will it ever really lighten?). It’s a both/and experience like never before.
What I’m excited about:
- Louise (not her real name) is a certified art therapist as well as a licensed psychotherapist. I’m excited to dust off the cartful of untouched art supplies bought during my darkest moments and sit down once again at the out-of-tune piano rusting away in my family room.
- Her office is in the cutest part of my super cute little town, which means I get to pop into a favorite store or bakery after every session.
- Louise rents space from a small Christian church, and one way to get to her office is through a quiet, peaceful, tiny courtyard full of plants and flowers and little religious sculptures. It’s a sweet oasis and helped me catch my breath before showing up at her door.
- She’s not LDS. This is definitely a pro and a con, but overall I’m happy to be seeing a Mormon outsider for help with my mental health (even if it means I might have Googled “how to explain Mormonism to an outsider” before my session).
What I’m nervous about:
- What if this new, intense level of depression is my new normal? What if therapy doesn’t help the way it has in the past? I find myself only tentatively hopeful for the most part, afraid to really believe I can ever feel as good as I used to.
- The thing that brought me to therapy is the thing that I’m not sure I believe will ever change: I do not recognize my life. There are some of the same players (husband and kids) and some of the same furniture (lots is different) and my car is the same as it was a year ago, but in most ways, nothing looks, or, most importantly, feels familiar. Moving to a new state last year in the middle of an isolating pandemic and brutally divisive political and social issues means I lost most of my social connections. I do not recognize my friendships. The people and places that I used to see everyday are now hundreds of miles away. My house is obviously different. The terrain outside my windows is different. The weather is different. The smells, the humidity, the light – all of it is nothing like it was before. Going from an office building to working from home, going from walking my kids to school to driving 15 minutes there and back, going from knowing my way around every grocery store and strip mall and intersection within a 20 miles radius to needing to Google map my way to every single destination… it has all been extremely disorienting. I do not recognize my surroundings. I can’t find my physical bearings, and, after a year of being so literally lost, I have finally lost hold of my emotional and mental bearings as well. I do not recognize myself.
- And so, I swirl in worry around these questions: Will I ever feel oriented again? Will I ever get my emotional feet back under me? Will I ever again recognize my life, my surroundings, myself?
This is the fourth, and, for now, final, installment of my Caitlin as Client series. I’ll be privately navigating my mental health challenges for the time being and move onto some you-focused content. Tell me in the comments below: What mental health topic are you curious about? What therapy-related question comes to mind? What helps you the most when you’re needing a psychological boost? What does not help? I’d love to hear, and, as always, thank you so much for being here.
For information on working with Caitlin, look no further.