Two steps forward and one step back. That’s the sum of sheer stupidity I possess when it comes to my mental health. Asked by my therapist to think long and hard about what would happen when our sessions came to an end, I replied that I would need to avoid going off a cliff and I would need to prepare for life without treatment. I knew what I had to do and I didn’t do it. I’m angry at myself.
I have learned that one way of dealing with my demons is to plan what lies ahead and prepare for all eventualities. For example, when I travelled to my dad’s funeral in Ottawa in 2011, I prepared everything in my mind, apart from imagining what my happen at the check-in desk (“business or pleasure?”) and then at the departure gate when I realised I could not cope with sitting next to a total stranger for the best part of seven hours. At these times, I broke down. Everything else, including the funeral itself, was fine. I had thought through every single moment.
My therapist obviously knew far more about the end of therapy than I did, which is and isn’t surprising. She is an expert on mental health but I am an expert in having poor mental health. I knew what she knew. I suppose her thought processes were far better than mine.
So, what happened? A huge dip in my mood, followed by the usual tearful hour or so of despair until I started work and my professionalism kicked in.
In the hour from 1.00 pm where I would normally have been spent in therapy, I thought of nothing else but therapy. I have become an Oscar winning standard actor over the years and doubt that anyone will have noticed and I am glad about that. The last thing I wanted to do was explain myself to someone about it.
The big question I have trouble with is this: how are you? For too long, I have lied and said things like “Fine” and Good”. No more. I don’t go to the trouble of explaining everything about how shit I am feeling, but rather say things like “I’m still breathing” or “been worse”, unless I haven’t been. Let’s face it: no one asks how you are only for you to give a convoluted reply about how awful you feel. It’s where you put on the mask.
My brain has been a version of paper mache all afternoon and I still feel I am looking through a fog. I am having to think before speaking, in case the wrong words come out. I know this feeling. I have felt it on and off since the late 1960s.
However, I am still here. The survival instinct lives on and I I am still trying to get over this bastard illness. Sadly, the depression shark has the habit of sneaking back up on you just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water. It was a shock and it shouldn’t have been and it’s my own stupid fault. I feel such a prat for taking my eye of the ball.