Continue the Story

I wanted to write about the therapy session I had yesterday but a piece of news had shocked me so much last night that I feel it pertinent to address.

The mental health community has been rocked by the news that Amy Bleuel, the founder of Project Semicolon, has passed away from suicide. She had been an amazing advocate, a strong voice within the community against the stigma of mental health, a positive, and encouraging person to all those who struggle with suicide. So when the news came to me, I was shocked. Not only that she had passed, but that she had died from suicide.

I felt it ironic because just last night, when my temporary tattoo kit had arrived, I decided to tattoo my arm with a semicolon. When I have something tangible that I can see, touch, and read daily, it helps me keep going. So I figured if I had a tattoo of the semicolon, I’d be able to look at it and realize that my story isn’t over.

Then the news came.

It made me think.

I told my psychologist yesterday that sometimes I feel guilty for being an advocate, or for doing something contrary to what he and I have discussed because I know I shouldn’t beat myself up, I know I shouldn’t feel the way I do, etc, but I still end up in the anxious/depressed situation.
“S, sometimes I feel really guilty… I feel guilty because I hear your voice in my head saying, ‘Jules, these thoughts? They’re not your reality. They’re just thoughts. They’re fleeting, which means they won’t stick around for very long. But they don’t define your reality’ and I think to myself, ‘S’ is right. Why am I moping then? Why can’t I stop moping? Why do I want to just die?’ and I feel guilty,” I’d said to him.
He sat up. He always pays extra attention when I talk about something that relates to our therapeutic relationship. He’s always very conscientious of the fact that sometimes the things he says could affect me.
“Oh yeah?” He asked.
“Yeah… I feel guilty because I know that recovery isn’t a straight path upwards. That sometimes I may regress. I know that…”
As I said that, S smiled because I had answered myself. Recovery isn’t linear.
The news of Amy Bleuel’s passing gives a lot of clarity to the issue. It teaches me that every single day is a battle, and sometimes, you may lose but hopefully if you have a good support system, you’ll never have to consider losing. Or ever find yourself at a place where you could potentially do some serious harm.
 
It’s awful to lose someone to cancer, or a disease, or old age, or accidents, but how much more awful is it to lose someone to suicide? This is in some ways a wake up call because it’s telling us that if we don’t check in with the people we love or give them our support, we may lose them forever.
 
All it takes is for one person to say “I care” to the person struggling with depression, for them to realize that they are worthy of love, and life. All it took for me were people who cared. The staff at CAPS had been that for me, but since then, my support system has grown. I’ve slowly learned to start loving myself as well through that.
I know what it’s like to stand in the dark, feeling like I’m all alone and that my only choice is to kill myself. And now, I also know what it’s like to be in the dark, but then have someone reach out their hand to me to walk me back to the light. Knowing these two sides, I really want to encourage anyone and everyone who is reading this to reach out to their loved ones, to let them know how much you care for them.
If you’re hurting, afraid, or need someone to talk to, please reach out. Someone will reach back. Please stay. You are so deeply valued, so incomprehensibly loved—even when you can’t feel it—and you are worth your life. You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 (U.S.) or 877-330-6366 (Canada), or The Trevor Project at 866-488-7386. If you’d like to talk to a peer, http://warmline.org contains links to warmlines in every state. If you don’t want to talk on the phone, you can reach Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. (**Note: I stole this from Facebook, from Dese’Rae Lynn Stage)
RIP, Amy Bleuel, you have made an impact to many – and I was one of them.

Another Walk In Session 

I love my therapeutic group. I do. 

However, sometimes, the things we discuss can be so triggering. I absorb emotions from others easily and do whenever someone is distressed, I start feeling distressed as well. 

That was what happened in today’s session. 

I was feeling fine, teetering on the line between good and fine. Towards the end of the session, one of the members was so distressed and anxious that I started to feel what she was feeling too. 

Then Kyle ended the session with a really sad thought about how this year will be the first year he’ll be spending Thanksgiving without his ex-girlfriend of 7 and a half years. For once in 3 weeks, I was hit by my own sadness and memories of my ex. I hadn’t thought about him, the divorce, or how he is for about 3 weeks and I had been starting to feel proud of the fact that I am doing okay without him. 

For the last 5 minutes of the session, I started to think of my own situation and how lonely I would be during Thanksgiving. 

“My friend invited me to her home for Thanksgiving,” Kyle said. 

“I know how you feel. It sucks. I’m sad for you. I’m also sad for myself because I know exactly how you feel. Maybe you’ll have a good time with your friend,” I said, trying to put a more positive spin on the situation. Inside, I was feeling sad and vulnerable. 

When group ended, I hung around at the lobby of CAPS, thinking and evaluating my feelings. I asked myself if I needed a walk-in. 

After 5 minutes, I decided that I did because of how I was starting to get more distressed. YT came to greet me. She happened to be S’ supervisee. 

When I sat down in front of her, I said, “I’m baaack!” in a sing song voice because I had seen her a few weeks ago when I had cut myself and was suicidal. She had made me write a safety plan that we both signed for accountability’s sake. 

Then I launched into a rant of increasing intensity about how tired I was, and how overwhelmed I was. I told her of my trigger during group and the trigger that I got subsequently. 

Just before my meeting with YT, I had received a message from a friend that reads: “Apple has been trying to call you to come in for an interview. Your voicemail isn’t working. Please call them back!” I nearly had a panic attack. 

Self-criticism of my skills and intelligence intensified – I had already started having thoughts that I’m not cut out for computer science again earlier this afternoon. The triggers didn’t help matters. 

I told YT how I also feel like I thought that I was getting better but then I had nearly gone into a panic attack. I hadn’t thought about suicide in a more serious manner until now. The thought of driving my car into a traffic light or into the river was very appealing to me. 

I am exhausted. I want things to end. I want to quit life itself. I told YT all that. When she asked if I could take a break, I told her that I feel like I can’t. Besides, what does it mean anyway? It doesn’t sound like a concrete step I could take. It just all seem so arbitrary.) 

We talked about 50 minutes while I cried freely. I think I had badly needed that because the tears were cathartic. I started to feel better as I listened to her. She told me of the progress that she sees in me. Of how despite having the gut reaction of wanting to get a knife and cutting myself, that I sought help instead. She also told me that my interpretation of recovery is too linear – that recovery is characterized by a series of highs, lows, dips, and peaks. That what is happening to me today is normal and should be expected. She also said that I had bottled up 30 years’ worth of pain, emotions, and rage that hadn’t ever been processed. 

I started to feel calmer. 

“You said you have 4 days off right?” She asked. 

I nodded. Fall break begins tomorrow and I’d taken all 4 days off. 

“Would you like to write down a plan for those 4 days? Sometimes being able to visualize things really helps you refocus,” YT said. I really liked her very concrete methods of visualization. They really help me. 

When she suggested I write the safety plan the last time, I didn’t think it would be effective. However, it turns out that it was actually very effective because the safety plan has kept me from doing anything rash. 

So she pulled out a pad of paper, and handed me her pen. She instructed me on how I should write the plan. Then as she prompted me, I started to write down all the things I want to do for the next 4 days. 

As I wrote down more and more things, I started to feel calmer. I also started to smile because I started to feel like I have something to look forward to. 

I think she could tell that I was feeling better but she still checked in on my suicidal thoughts. I told her that I am not thinking of them anymore. That I am not going to do anything because I still have things to look forward to and things I want to do. 

Then as I gathered myself, physically, and emotionally, she made a comment about my large backpack and how heavy my load is. We then had a few moments of small chat before I thanked her profusely for her help. 

I’m so thankful for CAPS. Without it, I wouldn’t be as far along with my progress as I am now. Without it, I might have done something drastic and passed on my pain to everyone else around me through suicide. 

My list – written with shaky hands so my handwriting isn’t the best.

Another Walk In Session 

I love my therapeutic group. I do. 

However, sometimes, the things we discuss can be so triggering. I absorb emotions from others easily and do whenever someone is distressed, I start feeling distressed as well. 

That was what happened in today’s session. 

I was feeling fine, teetering on the line between good and fine. Towards the end of the session, one of the members was so distressed and anxious that I started to feel what she was feeling too. 

Then Kyle ended the session with a really sad thought about how this year will be the first year he’ll be spending Thanksgiving without his ex-girlfriend of 7 and a half years. For once in 3 weeks, I was hit by my own sadness and memories of my ex. I hadn’t thought about him, the divorce, or how he is for about 3 weeks and I had been starting to feel proud of the fact that I am doing okay without him. 

For the last 5 minutes of the session, I started to think of my own situation and how lonely I would be during Thanksgiving. 

“My friend invited me to her home for Thanksgiving,” Kyle said. 

“I know how you feel. It sucks. I’m sad for you. I’m also sad for myself because I know exactly how you feel. Maybe you’ll have a good time with your friend,” I said, trying to put a more positive spin on the situation. Inside, I was feeling sad and vulnerable. 

When group ended, I hung around at the lobby of CAPS, thinking and evaluating my feelings. I asked myself if I needed a walk-in. 

After 5 minutes, I decided that I did because of how I was starting to get more distressed. YT came to greet me. She happened to be S’ supervisee. 

When I sat down in front of her, I said, “I’m baaack!” in a sing song voice because I had seen her a few weeks ago when I had cut myself and was suicidal. She had made me write a safety plan that we both signed for accountability’s sake. 

Then I launched into a rant of increasing intensity about how tired I was, and how overwhelmed I was. I told her of my trigger during group and the trigger that I got subsequently. 

Just before my meeting with YT, I had received a message from a friend that reads: “Apple has been trying to call you to come in for an interview. Your voicemail isn’t working. Please call them back!” I nearly had a panic attack. 

Self-criticism of my skills and intelligence intensified – I had already started having thoughts that I’m not cut out for computer science again earlier this afternoon. The triggers didn’t help matters. 

I told YT how I also feel like I thought that I was getting better but then I had nearly gone into a panic attack. I hadn’t thought about suicide in a more serious manner until now. The thought of driving my car into a traffic light or into the river was very appealing to me. 

I am exhausted. I want things to end. I want to quit life itself. I told YT all that. When she asked if I could take a break, I told her that I feel like I can’t. Besides, what does it mean anyway? It doesn’t sound like a concrete step I could take. It just all seem so arbitrary.) 

We talked about 50 minutes while I cried freely. I think I had badly needed that because the tears were cathartic. I started to feel better as I listened to her. She told me of the progress that she sees in me. Of how despite having the gut reaction of wanting to get a knife and cutting myself, that I sought help instead. She also told me that my interpretation of recovery is too linear – that recovery is characterized by a series of highs, lows, dips, and peaks. That what is happening to me today is normal and should be expected. She also said that I had bottled up 30 years’ worth of pain, emotions, and rage that hadn’t ever been processed. 

I started to feel calmer. 

“You said you have 4 days off right?” She asked. 

I nodded. Fall break begins tomorrow and I’d taken all 4 days off. 

“Would you like to write down a plan for those 4 days? Sometimes being able to visualize things really helps you refocus,” YT said. I really liked her very concrete methods of visualization. They really help me. 

When she suggested I write the safety plan the last time, I didn’t think it would be effective. However, it turns out that it was actually very effective because the safety plan has kept me from doing anything rash. 

So she pulled out a pad of paper, and handed me her pen. She instructed me on how I should write the plan. Then as she prompted me, I started to write down all the things I want to do for the next 4 days. 

As I wrote down more and more things, I started to feel calmer. I also started to smile because I started to feel like I have something to look forward to. 

I think she could tell that I was feeling better but she still checked in on my suicidal thoughts. I told her that I am not thinking of them anymore. That I am not going to do anything because I still have things to look forward to and things I want to do. 

Then as I gathered myself, physically, and emotionally, she made a comment about my large backpack and how heavy my load is. We then had a few moments of small chat before I thanked her profusely for her help. 

I’m so thankful for CAPS. Without it, I wouldn’t be as far along with my progress as I am now. Without it, I might have done something drastic and passed on my pain to everyone else around me through suicide. 

Post Group Therapy – Crisis Intervention Session

“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…

Why I Had To Go See the On-Call Psychologist… YET Again

So this is the third time this semester that I’ve had to utilize CAPS’ walk-in hours. I know I always preface it that way because of my own guilt and insecurities about going in to CAPS on a day that I’m not scheduled to. Note that this post will be slightly disjointed as I wasn’t really paying attention to much of the details of my conversation with the psychologist – I was in too much distress for the first half of our conversation anyway.

This is also an extremely long post just because I am writing this as a sort of journal entry for me as well. So bear with me – this is almost like a play-by-play.

Continue reading

Why I Had To Go See The On-Call Psychologist…. Again….

((Warning: Long post ahead))

Yes, you read the title right.

This would be the second time this semester that I had made the decision to walk all the way to the edge of campus to go to the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) Office because I felt like I wouldn’t be able to make it through the rest of this week if I didn’t. It was a long walk and with a heavy backpack filled with a laptop and textbooks, a heavy messenger bag filled with art supplies and a lunch bag, it was a tiring walk.

My shoulders, which were already aching from the invisible (mental) burden that I was carrying ached even more by the physical burdens I was carrying. As I walked to the office, the little self criticizing voice said, “What are you doing? Why are you going to CAPS? You just went yesterday, remember? Why are you such a loser? You’re an adult! Can’t you just deal?” over and over. Each step grew heavier and I doubted my decision.

Sounds familiar, right? This was exactly what I happened the last time I decided to go to CAPS for an on-call visit.

That little voice in my head is a jerk to me.

I pressed on and felt relief when I got to the building that the office was housed in. I felt relief when I saw the familar face of the receptionist. She’s always quite a sweetheart. Feeling a little self conscious as there was another student behind me, I said to the receptionist, “Can I speak to the on-call clinician? Whoever that might be…” I secretly hoped that it was my own therapist. She checked her computer and told me to take a seat. I filled out the paperwork and waited.

This is the worst part. The waiting. My hands were shaking and I kept tapping my right foot. I hadn’t really been tapping my foot this way since I started taking Ritalin but I’ve done it several times this week. The nervous energy in me was threatening to explode.

5 minutes later, the on-call clinician came out to greet me. I felt like it was way longer than that. As I’ve been a client at CAPS since April 2015, I had seen most of the staff that works there and so I knew who this psychologist was.

He led me down the hallway to his office, which was right at the corner of the building. Along the way, we passed my regular therapist’s office. Incidentally, he walked out of his office just as we approached and I caught a glimpse of his back as he walked out the door. It was actually nice to see him, even if it was just his back. I felt a little calmer just catching a glimpse of that familiar person.

So as I settled on the couch in the on-call therapist’s office, let’s call him J, he said to me, “You’ve been seeing S for a while now, right? So you know all about the confidentiality we maintain and all that?” I said that I was. He didn’t want to waste time. He then told me that we would talk about what brought me in and follow up with strategies we could use to ensure that I would be safe. It sounded good to me.

I started by telling him that I’m trying to be proactive with my situation because I knew that work was coming up next and I wouldn’t have access to CAPS for the rest of the week. I told him that I didn’t know if I could go through the week without any support. I explained that I feel like I just can’t go on. I also explained to him all the stresses that I’m facing at the moment with my job, with school assignments, with switching my major, with other personal issues etc. He empathized and agreed that I was going through a rough time.

We then talked about my desire to self harm, to cut. I told him that I feel like my world is like a table that has been upturned and everything I’ve laid out on the table are now scattered all over the ground. I feel lost and confused. I feel like I can’t pick up the pieces and don’t know how to put them back together. I told him that I feel like I’m losing my mind, my grip on life and that I’m losing control of everything. The cutting is like an escape, a way to control something, a way to release my stresses and a way to make something intangible like depression tangible.

I also expressed my self doubts, especially about feeling needy. I told him how I felt stupid for coming in to see him, that I’m an adult, that I should be able to deal, right? I told him that I feel like I’m not working hard enough, that I’ve been missing tests and forgetting deadlines. I’m losing control. I told him that I didn’t want to come across as needy and attention seeking. I didn’t want to be a “poser”. What if all I’m doing is trying to get sympathy?

He stopped me there and asked me what cutting does for me or why I feel like I need to cut. I told him that I feel like I need to release my frustrations and anger. Then he addressed my self doubts and told me that what hes hearing is that I’m extremely self critical. That I’m so harsh with myself. That there are so many judgments. He explained that from what he’s hearing me say, that I am looking for answers as to why I feel the way I do and why I want to do something (like cut). Then I find the answer and as soon as I do, I invalidate the answer by doubting myself and thus putting me back to square one. He told me that my mind has devised a “clever” and unending loop of self punishment. That I continue to punish myself repeatedly for things I have no control over. This way, I’ll keep myself depressed for as long as I need to – I guess because I’m so terrified of recovery or being better because it is an unknown.

J then brought up sympathy vs empathy as I had said that I didn’t really know the difference. He told me that I don’t come across as being a “poser” or just wanting for attention. He said that it seemed more likely that what I need is empathy and understanding. I agreed that that’s what I would like – the funny thing is, it seems like this understanding that I need seems to only really matter if it came from certain people because otherwise, I wouldn’t still be so desperate for it as I’m getting empathy from readers of this blog and friends.

J also explained that sympathy is more superficial where a common response from someone sympathetic is “I’m sorry” while empathy is when someone extends not only sympathy but also understanding. He then explained that empathy and judgment are on opposite ends of the spectrum. He went on to say that I judge myself so much; that I don’t have any empathy for myself. I had a mind blowing moment when he said that.

He asked me if I had any reactions to what he had just said. I had to take a moment to process that. Self empathy? Wow. That’s a concept I’ve barely ever considered. I learned that the reason why I seem so unempathetic is not only because I don’t know the difference between empathy and sympathy but also because I don’t practice self empathy!

We also discussed my suicidal thoughts and how on the way to CAPS, I had thought that it would be easy if I just walked in front of traffic. I had also mentioned other thoughts I’ve had. He asked me what I could do to keep myself safe and keep myself from doing anything harmful. There was a moment of silence as I contemplated his question.

I realized then that I had often backed myself into a tight corner – so much so that the only choice left seemed to be death. I thanked him for asking me that question because I realized that what I needed to do to keep myself safe is to look at the big picture. I have, for too long, been ruminating and dwelling on the negative. I then shared with him my husband’s sneak peek for a surprise he’s planned for me that I will get to see in 5 months’ time. I told J that I had forgotten all about this surprise. I now realize that I have something to look forward to and in the midst of my pain, I had forgotten all about it.

J and I talked for about 40 minutes or so. J expressed that I have made his job easy because of how thoughtful I am and how it’s clear to him that I’m working hard to figure out my psychological condition. He also told me that our conversation had been clear, that I wasn’t being needy, that I needn’t feel bad and that I now know what I need to do or think about in order to be safe.

When I walked into his office this morning, I didn’t anticipate the kind of calm that I would feel after I left. I thought that I would still feel empty and hopeless. Instead, J pointed out to me what empathy meant, what self judgment meant, how I need to keep myself accountable for my actions and thoughts, what I need to do to be safe and above all, he listened and made me feel understood.

I thanked him profusely as we said our goodbyes. I told him that I was glad that I had dropped by and that he had helped me more than he probably realized.

I walked in with a head full of turmoil and I left with a little less burden on my shoulders and a lot of calm in my heart. I think this might turn out to be a more stable week after all.