“We’re going to have to check in with S about this, ok? Just to let him know what we’ve talked about today and to keep him updated,” J said as she, T, and I wrapped up our crisis intervention session.
As someone who had used the walk in service dozens of times now, I knew that was coming. I knew that any psychologist I see would have to check with S, my primary care psychologist, about what we’ve talked about. So when I walked out of T’s office, which was incidentally next to S’ office, I expected to see J and T both head to S’ office to talk to them. I expected it. Despite expecting it, I still found it amusing when I watch the other two psychologists troop over to talk to S.
I don’t know why that was such a significant moment for me but it’s been something I’ve been playing in my head over and over this whole evening. I thought about what J and T might have said to S. I saw them talking when I out by my car because I could see S’ office from the parking lot and I was curious what they were saying…
I don’t know why it’s so important to me to know what others are saying about me all the time. I get intensely curious and sometimes it even bothers me not to know. It’s really strange – it’s almost like I want things to revolve around me constantly. That need for attention is a push and pull response in me – on one hand, I want people to give me attention but on the other, when I get attention, I shrink away in shame…
Anyway, after group therapy today, I had asked J and T if I could check in with either one of them or both of them. T offered his office as a place we could talk as it was the nearest to the group therapy room. Both J and T decided to talk to me at once – I’ve only ever talked to two psychologists at once one other time before when I met with B and C who were the facilitators of the last group therapy I was in. It feels strangely comforting having two psychologists in the same room with me while I’m hashing out my crisis.
I had more rapport with J as she had been the psychologist who had administered my ADHD test (and so was the first psychologist I’ve ever met), and who has also seen me in walk-ins before. T, on the other hand, was someone I was familiar with since I had attended a seminar that he had helped facilitate but outside of group, I haven’t really had a chance to see him at work. I was very thankful for both of them as I told them what I was there for.
I gave them the context of my struggles – all the issues that I was dealing with at the moment. And I told them how triggering today’s group session had been. In fact, last group session was equally as triggering and I had left feeling devastated as well. I told them how much pain I was feeling and how much I related with everything the group members have talked about as well.
I then told them that I had a plan. I wanted to die. I wanted to escape this pain and leave everything behind. I was done fighting – I am tired of everything. I told them that I just want to give up. The pain is unbearable and the fighting is too exhausting to continue. I told them that every time I feel better, I get hit again and then I slip back into the depression. I told them that even S had pointed out how confused he gets with my condition – that one week I’ll leave feeling much better and then next week come back feeling bad again. It’s been 6 months since I’ve started this depressive episode and it hasn’t yet relented.
J asked me what it is that I think about when I think about wanting to die. I told her that I’ve thought about a lot of different things but the most prominent in my mind are jumping from a height, driving my car over the bridge into the river, and lately it’s been to poison myself with alcohol. I told them that it’s very tempting because it’s so easy to procure alcohol. I also work in a restaurant which means that I have close access to liquor. I told them that the only thing that stops me is the promise I made S but today, my mind was trying to work its way around the promise.
“I promised S that I wouldn’t buy any alcohol… But I didn’t say that I wouldn’t consume any…” I said, “And I know he probably meant all of it – not to buy or consume – but my mind is trying to find a loop hole so that I could break my promise…”
“Have you and S ever discussed more intensive treatments? Since your suicidal thoughts keep coming back after you feel better… Has he mentioned hospitalization?” J asked.
I nodded. “Yeah… We’ve talked about hospitalization… But I refused…”
“Why did you refuse?” J asked.
“Well, I have so many responsibilities. So many things I need to do. I can’t just leave them all and be hospitalized!” I said. With a bitter laugh, I said, “You know, ironically it’s my anxiety that’s keeping me going… Thoughts like, ‘I have to go to work, otherwise I’ll let people down’, ‘I’m a disappointment unless I do my job’ etc invade my mind and it keeps me going.
J and T both gave me suggestions on what I could do to help me get through the weekend to Wednesday when I see S again. The suggestions ranged from doing physical activity like skateboarding (T suggested it) to speaking to someone I can trust and venting (J’s suggestion). They were good practical coping strategies. I was thankful they weren’t trying to give me something that was arbitrary – mindfulness techniques don’t really work for me. I told them that I would try to use those coping skills and hang on until Wednesday. T also suggested checking in on Tuesday as well before I see S if necessary.
Before we ended, T said, “I am glad that you checked in with us instead of just leaving… You took a step towards taking care of yourself”
“Yeah, I was going to leave… I wanted to but I felt like maybe I should stay and see if I can get some help… The thing is, I feel like I’m such a burden. I mean, I’ve talked to S twice this week. I spent an hour on Wednesday and almost 2 hours yesterday. I know S is trying to help – I can see it on his face, I can hear it in his voice. He’s so concerned for me. And yet, I’m not trying hard enough… I feel like I’m wasting you guys’ time too right now because I don’t think I should need this… I keep talking to people but I don’t make the effort to do anything or make changes in my life…”
“Jules, even at your lowest, you are still trying to protect and care for others. You’re trying to protect S and us even though you’re hurting so much right now. You’re trying to protect him from having you as a burden and you feel so bad when all you’re doing is asking for the help you need,” J had said. I nodded, recognizing what she was saying.
I thought it was interesting that she noted that. I never realized that what I was doing for S was also protecting him. Making sure that I wasn’t a burden to him.
We spoke for about half an hour and by the end, I was still sobbing a little when I left. I felt so raw and in pain. I promised J and T that I would do my best to cope. I told them being at work provides me a good distraction and my work family really does love me – I actually received concerned messages from two of my coworkers last night. It had warmed my heart when I had seen those messages.
People actually care about me.
“Thank you for caring…” I said to J and T as I left T’s office.
I was truly grateful to have been able to vent a little to J and T, as well as receive some support and validation towards my own feelings as well.
When I got home, I posted on Facebook, “I had a plan and it’s not a good one” as a subtle cry for help. One of my ex-co-workers noted it immediately and told me to text him. I did and he was very genuine in his support as well.
It felt good. It felt good to have people who care about me. It’s so easy to get lost in the haze of depression that you forget to see that there are people around you who care about you. Depression has a knack for getting you caught up in only the negatives…