Monday, April 23, 2012

Post-it Note Therapy

I almost cancelled.  I wanted desperately to cancel.  How could I go to therapy if I couldn't speak?

It's not that I had laryngitis or bronchitis or any kind of injury or illness that affected my voice.  I just couldn't make myself open my mouth and say the things that were in my heart.

But I didn't cancel.  I went.  I trust my therapist.  And I knew that isolating myself and shutting down wasn't the healthy answer.  Even though it was a tactic I'd used many times in the past, I knew I had to push through.

I cried off and on all morning before I went.  I was able to pull myself together enough to seem okay with my kids.  I even did okay signing in at the therapist's office.

The secretary handled the money, scheduled a new appointment, and handed me the questionnaire.  That wonderful, glorious, dreaded, silly series of questions that is somehow supposed to tell my therapist how I'm doing and if I'm making progress.  I looked at it and laughed inside, knowing I could make it say whatever I wanted.  Knowing I could present a happy, healthy front and fake my way through the session.  And knowing that I just couldn't play the game that day.

My therapist came to the waiting room and greeted me.  As we walked back to his office, he reached for my paper.  I handed it to him.  He looked at it and said, "It's blank."  And I answered, "I just couldn't do it."

He said, "Okay," and we continued to his office.  He said he was going to get a drink of water and offered me one (no, thank you).  He also asked if I'd like to fill out the questionnaire now.  I said, "No," in no uncertain terms.  He said, "Okay.  I get no," and left to get his water.

He returned to find me sitting on the floor, with my knees pulled up to my chest.  He closed the door and commented on the fact that I was sitting on the floor.  I said that sometimes I just need to sit on the floor.

He said that was fine and commented that I seemed upset.  I didn't respond.  He asked what I'd like to work on today.  I started crying.

I cried and cried.  I held my face in my hands and cried.  I wanted to speak.  I tried to speak.  But I couldn't.

He waited.

After about five minutes of me just crying and not being able to say anything he said that it was okay to just sit and cry.  That was valuable therapy time, too.  That I didn't have to talk in order to heal.

I continued to cry and be silent.  Inside, I was screaming.  I had so many things I wanted to talk about, why couldn't I open my mouth and speak?

He asked if it would be okay to ask some questions.  I said it would.  He asked why I was sitting on the floor.  I thought for a minute.  All I could come up with was, "It's less effort" and "It's safer."  He asked if I felt unsafe.  I said I didn't know, it's just what came to mind.

More long minutes of silence, except for my crying.

Eventually I was able to ask for a post-it note.  I took out my pen and wrote:
"I'm just so sad and I don't understand why."

Through great effort, I gave him the note.  He read it.  And he said, "Sometimes it's good to be sad with someone else, to not be sad alone."  And I cried more.  So much of my sadness is experienced alone.  Seldom does someone offer to be with me while I am sad.  Especially without trying to make me not be sad.

He asked if times like this, when I am so sad, are when I want to hurt myself.  I acknowledged that I had thought about it, but I hadn't done so.  Except that I had stopped eating.  He reminded me that not eating is a form of self-injury.  And he praised me for not cutting (or scratching, in my case).

Over the course of the hour I was able to give him three more post-it notes:

  *  "There are a thousand things running around in my brain.  I don't understand why I can't say any of them." -- He said that when the time is right, if they need to be said, they will come out.

  *  "No matter how hard I work or how much progress I make, I feel like there will always be this underlying sadness and loneliness." -- He said it wouldn't be like this forever.  We could take it from a 9 to a 3 or from a 7 to a 1.  But he also said that he hoped I wouldn't ever lose it completely or I would lose my ability to empathize with others; I wouldn't be able to help others through my blog like I can now.

  *  "I am fighting a battle on so many fronts in my life so much of the time.  I am just so tired of fighting; sometimes I just want to quit." -- He said it's okay to take a break.  I need to allow myself to take time off.  I need to give myself permission for self-care.  This is just a break.

"It's okay to take a break; it's not okay to hurt yourself."  As he said this, I felt strengthened.

In the hour I spent with him, there may have been five minutes of talking.  I probably spoke under a minute.  And I cried the whole time.

But I'm glad I went.  It was valuable therapy.  It was nice to have someone really see my pain and validate it.  It was nice to have someone sit with me as I cried.

As I prepared to leave he asked what the goal was (meaning what I would work on until I saw him again).  I said, "Don't hurt myself."  And he agreed.

I am somewhat better now, although the sadness and loneliness is just under the surface.  I still cry quite easily.  But since then I've been able to communicate a little with a couple of people and I've gotten back on my regimen.

And I haven't hurt myself.


Rubye Jack said...

You are so incredibly brave Robin, and I admire you for facing your fears and keeping your appointment and having the heart to sit there and cry.

Each time I had a therapy appointment, I'd always act like everything was fine and half the time I couldn't even keep the appointment, probably because I felt I'd have to act like everything is fine. So, I admire you and think you are a very strong woman.

WhisperingWriter said...

I am also glad you went. It sounds like it helped a lot.

Cherry Faith said...

Sara said...

Hey, thanks for stopping by my blog. I remember seeing your blog several months ago. Was it on your SITS day?

I admire you for writing your experiences with depression. I used to suffer/ and still do from time to time with depression, sometimes crippling. I no longer take meds for it, but I did that and therapy for many years.

PostDivorceCoach said... came over from SITS and I came over and I read and I am sitting here crying for you and with you and feeling your pain because I have that same pain. We need to run off together. Thank you for stopping by so I could find you because I think we might just need each other right now.

Kassi @ Truly Lovely said...

Oh wow girl! So brave and honest of you to share what you're going through! All I can really say is that you're not alone. There's lots of people out there that suffer through depression. Hope you're doing better! Stopping by from SITS Saturday by the way.

Blond Duck said...

You're so strong to face these issues!

notakarintheworld said...

"I'm just so sad and I don't understand why." - You are so not alone. I have suffered from depression, sometimes debilitating and sometimes not bad, for almost 25 years. I get your sentiment so completely.

I have been exactly where you are and your therapist is right, one day you'll be a 3 instead of a 9. The very fact that you didn't cancel your appointment is awesome.

Stick with your goal, take baby steps, and know that you are in no way alone in this world.

doseofreality said...

I found you via SITS, and I just have to say that I am in awe of your honesty and courage. Thank you for sharing these thoughts and feelings so candidly. I have no doubt they are helping people. I hope they are also helping you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. I think it is important that you share with others. My mother was diagnosed with depression etc. many years ago and it was always difficult to understand what she was going through.
I commend you for using this means of voice as an outlet but also letting others understand what a person with depression may be going through.

Anne said...

Thank you for your honesty. Writing about these is already part of your healing process. You're such a brave woman, Robin. I hope one day, you get to see that woman I'm seeing now.

Alison@Mama Wants This said...

My heart hurts for you Robin. I'm glad that session helped you - may your healing continue.

Morgan said...

my heart goes out to you ... and I'm so grateful that you have someone to sit and cry with ... and who understands post-it note notes.

visiting from SITS :)

anotherjennifer said...

Thank you for sharing. Stay strong. It sounds like you have a wonderful therapist. Know that you are not alone.

BarefootMedStudent said...

You write beautifully and candidly about your therapy. I hope that one day I will have the strength to do that.

I hope you will continue to get better. I hear things do improve eventually.

I also like being on the floor when I feel low. I guess then I don't feel like I'm pretending.

Visiting via SITS Sharefest :)

Crunchy Beach Mama said...

Sometimes we just don't know what is wrong...or why we want to sit on the's ok. I think many of us have been there and can relate. One day at a does get better.

Sorta Southern Single Mom said...

Good for you for going. That in itself is a big step.

Blond Duck said...

I hope you're feeling better!

jamie said...

Robin, thank you for being so honest. I can feel your struggle. I can feel your loneliness. I can feel your pain. But you are one strong woman, and He who is in you, is stronger that he who is in the world. God bless you and watch over you, always.

Lisa said...

Thanks for sharing. I can feel your struggle. Hugs

Erin @ Simply Frugal Mom said...

What a painfully beautiful post. I hope your session that day and writing about it helped to ease some of the sadness.

Tricia said...

I know what this feels like. I'm in awe of you for how you're handling it and your honesty here. Thinking of you.

The Dolls Are Alright said...

Glad to know you have a supportive therapist. Writing has always been such a great source in my healing process. You are in my heart and thoughts.

Barb - The Empty Nest Mom said...

Sadness is definitely best not to go through alone. I just bawled my eyes out to my daughter yesterday....nothing in particular. Well, yes - aging. She listened. She encouraged. I felt better. Sometimes we just need to get it out. Thank you for your kind comments at my site. I so appreciate them.

Trina said...

Depression is such a difficult thing to deal with. And just because someone else says they have been depressed and understand the feelings, doesn't mean that we feel understood...because maybe the reasons and complexities we're depressed for are different. I hate that feeling of being alone. I hope you're able to heal quickly. I think writing your feelings, even with holding back those things you're not ready to say yet, is brave, and remarkable. It shows you have strength. You'll make it through this refiners fire a much stronger and even more beautiful person inside. Good luck and remember that God will help you.

Libby said...

It was probably not the session you expected but I'm so glad you went. I honestly hope it's made you feel ever so slightly less sad. My thoughts and prayers are with you Miss Robin and I send you a warm Aussie hug.

Katy said...

I think you should ditch the therapy and enroll in law school. It'd be way more fun.

Beverlyyfkc said...

Glad to know you have a supportive therapist. Writing has always been such a great source in my healing process. You are in my heart and thoughts.