Thoughts from Therapy (And Updates)

I’m alive. I promise.

It’s just that things have gotten so overwhelmingly bad for me that I can’t bring myself to write anything here.

This post will be raw and might be triggering for some as I have some discussions on suicide. For more, read on after the jump.

For a few weeks, I was feeling like I was in the eye of the storm. I felt calm despite all the craziness that was happening all around me, despite all the adversities I was facing. I knew that it was a temporary calm – I described it to S, my psychologist, as a “fake calm”. I knew it was temporary, because in the back of my mind, I’m always anticipating the worst case scenario.

2016 - Eye of The Storm

In the Eye of the Storm

Last Wednesday was the first day S was back from his 2-week-long leave and I had told him that I felt like I was calm, despite having some very stressful conditions in my life – one event that is so major and overwhelming that I not only can’t talk about it but also affected/affects my life in a huge way. I told him that the calmness made me wary because I didn’t want the rug pulled under my feet. So I told him that I was expecting that at any moment now, the storm would catch up with me.

S told me that it wasn’t uncommon for someone who has been struggling with depression for so long to feel weird when the depression lessens. That somehow something’s “wrong” because you’re not feeling as bad as you usually do. He told me that recovery is like an economic graph with peaks and valleys and that it’s never a smooth straight curve upwards. That despite the dips, I’m still making progress upwards towards recovery.

And he convinced me that I was making progress, still, despite my doubts that I’ve forgotten everything I’ve been learning to do since last April. He told me that I will never truly forget those things and that I have been making so much effort to get better that it’s okay to have some dips. It made me feel a little better to know that not only was it normal for me to feel weird that I’m not as anxious and depressed as I used to be but also that he still sees me taking steps towards recovery.

I cried a lot in my last session. I think had been holding a lot of things in for too many weeks. I had been struggling alone for too long and I felt bad for dumping all kinds of pain on S. He looked very concerned for the most part – sitting at the edge of his seat for quite a long time before he decided that I was calm enough for him to slide back into his seat into a more comfortable position. I really like that he understands me well and cares for me. It’s nice to see it in his little gestures and body language, even if he doesn’t always verbally acknowledge his concern/care for me.

That was last Wednesday’s session. I had since been to my first group therapy called “Understanding Self and Others” on Tuesday where it’s a process group to help group members learn new ways to interact with people, to discard self-criticism, to learn self-affirmation, how to handle conflicts and things of that nature. I was pleasantly surprised by my first experience of group yesterday. It was quite nice to hear feedback from other people regard what I have shared. I am actually excited to go back next week and see what else we’d talk about. B, the therapist in charge of the group session, told us how impressed with us at our willingness to jump straight into the discussions despite it being our first session together. I think we all felt immediately comfortable with each other and so we were able to start sharing things about ourselves that are a little bit more personal in nature. I haven’t really shared anything personal yet but I’m sure that I will in the future. I felt anxiety because I didn’t want to hog the conversation (I love to talk and when given the change, I’d want to talk about myself all the time) and I didn’t want to be too overpowering. But I guess that’s what this group is for – to learn to not only get to know yourself better but also to get to know others better.

Yesterday, B did pull me aside into her office after the group session because of the score on my BHM (Behavioral Health Measure) questionnaire on suicidal thoughts/tendencies. I had a huge spike because I had answered it as “Almost Always” which is the highest score (of 5) you can rate your feeling on for the question, “Have you had thoughts of suicide for the past week?”. During our pre-group interview, I had already alerted her to the fact that I have been struggling with suicide for a while now but she still wanted to check in with me to make sure that I was safe. I told her briefly of all the things that I’m struggling with and that I think I’ll be ok. I told her that I would see S today anyway. She then let me go because I assured her that I wouldn’t harm myself.

Today, S and I talked a lot about the spike in my BHM. I was on the mend when S left for his 2-week leave. My score on suicidal thoughts had reduced from “Often” to “Sometimes” (3rd highest on a scale of 5) but now it was back up to “Almost Always”. I was being honest of course.

My thoughts of suicide are what S calls “passive suicidal tendencies” where the most recurring thought I’ve been having this week has been, “I don’t want to exist. I can’t do this anymore. I want out”.

Every time S (or any of the other clinicians) ask me whether I’m safe or if I’d do anything to harm myself, my answer is always, “I think I’ll be ok. I don’t think I’ll do anything” – which is not a very sure answer because I certainly can’t be sure that I won’t be triggered to do anything stupid later. But it’s usually enough for them to back off and trust that I’ll be ok. (Though I have seen S’ look of masked disappointment during the times I’ve told him that despite saying that I’ll be ok that I had self-harmed.) It makes me wonder what the clinicians will do if I wasn’t so sure that I would be safe. I’m a little scared to find out, to be honest. I know I’m not at that point – the point where I’d be at a moderate to high risk – but I’m still scared to find out what happens if someone is at a high risk. It makes me wonder, at the very least. Do they grab you, put you in a straitjacket and admit you to the psych ward? I don’t know – as you can see, my mental image of this situation has been marred by the horrendous depictions of psych conditions by the media/movies.

Anyway, S and I had a lengthy talk today about my passive suicidal tendency. He had asked me if I had thoughts of doing anything harmful after my talk with B yesterday. Being the honest person I am (and seeing as this was something that was bothering me greatly), I told him that after the group session, I had been walking back to my workplace at the Math Assistance Center when I came out to the balcony of the second floor of the Engineering building. I told him that at that moment, I had experienced thoughts of wanting to jump off the building. I told him that images of me climbing over the railing and jumping played through my mind. That I had images of myself going up to the roof and preparing to jump. I also had thoughts that were talking me out of it, saying things like, “It’s the second floor. All you’ll do is break your legs and it’s going to hurt so bad…” and “The roof will be locked. It’s a waste of time. You don’t think they’d take precautions and lock the roof?” and images of people who mattered to me most flashed through my mind as well. Thankfully, those were enough to make me keep walking towards my workplace.

Still, thoughts like that scared me and I realized that my suicidal thoughts often change shape – in terms of what I’d do or want to do. I told S that I used to want to slit my wrists as a way to go. This was back when I was self-harming and the idea of a knife and cutting was attractive. Now, I told him that I don’t think that I’ll be able to follow through with the actual act because it’ll probably hurt too much. So I told him that though morbid, I’ve been thinking about how it’d be so much easier to just take a leap and  let gravity do the rest.

S was concerned. He told me that he might be misinterpreting what I just said to him but he said that what I told him sounded like I was getting worse. That my thoughts have advanced from just being mere thoughts to being much more active and a little more concrete in nature. I guess if you entertain a thought long enough, sooner or later it’ll become more and more concrete right? He was wary about suggesting that, I could tell because he said, “It seems to have gotten worse” and repeated, “Maybe it hasn’t… Maybe it’s hasn’t”. I told him that I didn’t know. I really didn’t because I can’t trust myself enough to know that I wouldn’t do something stupid in the heat of the moment.

I’m a little more stable today than I’ve been in a week. I’m more exhausted than anything – my psychiatrist had told me to take Straterra at night and that has been causing insomnia. I haven’t really slept well in perhaps 2 weeks. I keep waking up every 2 hours and I have great difficulty falling back asleep. I’ve been having Calculus and Computing dreams as well which disturb my sleep even more. They’re stress dreams where in them, I’m always working on problems and trying to find answers. This morning, I woke up from a Computing dream with the solutions to my code problems – that was pretty neat actually.

Anyway, since I was more “sober” than I’ve been all week and a little less negative today, I wrote to my best friend, El, and explained to her what S and I had been discussing today. I came clean with her and told her that I had been thinking of not existing and giving up for the past week. I told her that I’ve been struggling. I then asked her if it was okay for me to message her when I have these thoughts again. I wanted to ask her this because I felt like it would be rude for me to presume that she would have time for this. I know she’s my best friend, but that doesn’t mean that people are ready to take on someone while they’re at their lowest point – at the point of suicidal contemplation. Also, I told her that it would a huge burden and a huge responsibility to have to listen to me talk about being suicidal so I said that I would understand if she can’t help me.

Her message was poignant and heartfelt: “I beg you to message me if you have those thoughts pleaseee“. It made me cry because I knew then for sure that she was definitely a great friend. I feel touched to know that other than Hubster, there is at least one other person who is willing to be there for me when I’m struggling the hardest.

It’s been tough. And sometimes, thought it’s untrue, I feel like I’m struggling alone. That and my withdrawal from this blog and from people just made things worse. I know I shouldn’t withdraw but when I’m overwhelmed, it really is easier to not have to deal with anything else.

That said, I will try my best to write at least once a week. I realize now just how cathartic writing in this blog can be because I know that everyone who’s here is here because they want to read my story. I’ll also try my best to take care of myself – on a more positive side of things, I’ve started to work out and that has been helping me hold things together better. I told S that if I hadn’t started exercising and taking care of my diet (I’ve cut out carbs and sugar and have since lost 30lbs), that I think I would be in a worse depressive state. He agreed and told me to keep taking care of myself physically. Hopefully, someday I’ll be able to take care of myself mentally as well.

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