I am NOT a bad therapy patient

Why did I think I was not a good therapy patient?  I blogger friend got me thinking about that response to my last therapy session with Lynn. I want to take some time to expand on my reaction because I know adhering to such a perspective will certainly not help me recover from depression. Feeling I’m “bad” in therapy will cause defensiveness and a closed mind. That is not my intention for seeking out Lynn. And I am the one who sought out therapy, no one told me to go; I did it in order to develop a greater awareness of my depression and the qualities in my personality and life that effect it. However much I believe I am predisposed to a chemical imbalance, I must also take responsibility for my thoughts and actions contributing to my depression. I am made up of more than chemicals; I also act and I am acted upon.

When I am not in a major depressive episode I go to therapy feeling calm and comfortable. It was just a couple of short months ago that I felt that way. I have a lingering recollection of what it’s like to not be depressed in therapy. I sit at ease on the couch, without an extreme hyper-awareness of my body. I don’t need to watch the slow tick of the clock and I have no need to try to infer what Lynn means by everything she asks. There’s no sense of secrecy and shame because when I’m not depressed, I’m not hiding anything.

On the flip side, when I’m in therapy and experiencing Major Depression, I’m hyper-alert and uncomfortable on the couch. I watch the clock and fidget. I take Lynn’s suggestions or challenges all wrong and internalize the entire experience as another example of my worthlessness. I leave feeling self-admonition, convinced Lynn doesn’t care about me. I put up self-protective walls that attempt to deflect her suggestions.

I’m ready to let down the walls and open my mind to Lynn’s observations and challenges.

At my last therapy session, Lynn asked if I had excitement or passion in my life. My reaction at the time, when I was depressed, was to think “I don’t feel passionate, now just give me the right mix of meds to fix it.” I did not want to be told I play a part in my psychological state because hearing that statement made me feel worse. We all know a depressed person doesn’t feel passionate about anything. Was Lynn pointing out the obvious to cause me grief or to challenge my thinking? Of course, a good therapist is trying to help their patients and not cause anguish, so she was challenging me to recognize my current state of mind.

I accept Lynn’s challenge to look at my life in terms of passion and excitement. It definitely lacks both. So, I accept that statement as true, right now I do not feel passionate about anything.

I now have in my grasp the power to grow personally by taking into consideration what Lynn said and consciously make an effort to change.

Firstly, I acknowledge that my depression is not under control and that’s why I feel so weighted down by Lynn’s observations. I’m in a fog of negativity and it’s difficult to see the reality of my situation.

Secondly, I want to recognize that Lynn notices my negative mood and she is there to help me. I sought out therapy feeling that the Pristiq had run its course and I needed to manage my depression differently because my need to self-medicate with alcohol was getting worse. Lynn knows all of this and she has my back, as the saying goes. I’d like to believe that her suggestions and observations are made out of a genuine concern and if I wasn’t stuck in the muck of depression, I would know that.

Thirdly, I could consider ways to bring passion back into my life, in small ways, which will allow even a minute sense of pleasure, no matter how briefly. Imagine finding pleasure even when I’m depressed? I would like that a lot.

Let’s begin with spontaneity since feeling pleasure is a long stretch right now. Spontaneous I could try. This little effort may help me not keep my world so close-fisted and private. I would be acting on it, instead of always feeling acted upon. I initially thought yelling at my husband whenever I feel frustrated would count as being spontaneous but that’s too easy. I do that anyway. I think my pleasure or spontaneity must occur in public where I’m most reserved and restrained. I’m really not a shy or quiet person; I’m more protective in that I don’t talk about myself, except on a very superficial level. I tend to accept everyone as perfect the way they are and I try desperately not to make waves or cause conflict. I always see everyone’s side of an issue and never protect my own beliefs. Obviously, living in that manner can leave one unsatisfied and feeling discontent. For me, it means my needs are rarely met.

I am going to begin speaking up a bit more when I don’t approve. I have a position with some authority in my job but I rarely abuse that power. There are times when I should but I don’t like to so I avoid speaking up.

Well, today I spoke up at work. I told a person where to go and what to do because I do have that authority but I never use it. I don’t want to go into details but it felt right to step up to that responsibility. Morally it was the right thing to do for the greater good of the group. And, nothing horrific happened from me doing it except the person did what I said. The main point is I reacted on my feelings and, ultimately, speaking out gives me control in my life. Depression makes me feel helpless and I need to learn there are areas I’m not powerless and it is okay to assert myself. My needs are important and I can get them met – if I let others know what they are.

Now, you might be asking, what about the excitement and passion Lynn mentioned? That sounds like a tall order that I will have to work toward.

2 responses to “I am NOT a bad therapy patient

  1. But you ARE passionate and spontaneous, dammit. Anyone reading your blog can see that. You’re a passionate writer, thats for sure…

  2. I may be better than I give myself credit for — depression has a way of distorting my perspective. Thank you so much for your comments and for following my blog!

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