To go back into therapy or not – that is the question.. Why is this even a question? When I was around 13 I went to therapy for a few weeks and stopped going. I don’t know why, but apparently I simply refused to keep going. I needed help at the time, and wanted it, so I don’t know why.. Anyway, fast forward a few years, and at 19 I started with therapy again. That was an ongoing process off and on up until earlier this year. I’ve stopped going in the past, sometimes on my own, and other times because the therapist didn’t believe I needed to be there anymore.
Here’s a little backstory on my own termination with a therapist or them deeming it no longer necessary. I don’t have any distorted thought processes. I don’t believe that there’s some higher or terrestrial power out to get me or do my harm. I don’t believe that I deserve less than the next person, nor do I believe that I’m exceptional beyond reason (professionally I can do things that others simply can’t or at the very least, won’t dedicate the time and effort to aspire to). I don’t have an over-exaggerated sense of self image in either direction, meaning that I don’t feel that I’m a good or bad person; I’m pretty neutral on myself. Overall, I try to do the right thing and when I make mistakes, I don’t beat myself up over it unless it’s not something I can repair in one way or another. If I can’t repair it, I give it due pause, learn from it and move on. Dwelling isn’t healthy. Everything that happens in life, no matter how good or how tragic is an opportunity to learn, even if the lesson is to not do “x” again. My stepfather for instance was a learning experience in that I know how not to treat another human being 97% of the time, and even the other 3%, it damn well better be justified. I’m not perfect and don’t strive to be, but I make every effort to not be a dick to others, even if I loathe them. I don’t obsess over the past or the future; in short, I live in the moment while making loose plans of the future. I don’t hate myself. For the most part, I really like who I am. I don’t waste time and energy on hate/anger/vengeful wishes and intent/brooding, etc. It’s counter-productive and a waste of energy. I’m generally accepting of people, even those whom are very, very different than myself. I can respect others that don’t hold the same beliefs as me, or more commonly, that they hold beliefs that I don’t hold relating to spirituality. I’m not quick to react in the moment unless it’s necessary (think life-threatening to myself or others). If I feel intensely about something and it’s at all possible, I’ll rest on it and make a decision later once I’ve had a chance to calm down. I’ve learned not to trust my initial feelings or thoughts on some things. I didn’t grow up in a healthy environment, so hypervigilance isn’t something that’s easy to turn off. That’s ok – nobody is perfect, I realize this, I realize that I react to intense emotional situations with a very cold and calculated demeanor that’s focused on minimizing damage and/or the threat. It serves me well sometimes. If something calamitous comes up, when others freeze, I lose all emotion and get done what needs to be done. In short, I’m rather well adjusted, all things considered. Am I perfect? Hell no! Does that keep me up at night? Hell no!
So, back to whether to go back to therapy or not..
From what many, many mental health professionals and experts in their field have told me, I suffer almost completely from a chemical imbalance. The diagnoses have changed over the years, but Bipolar II is the most recent and it seems to fit the bill best. A mood stabilizer late in 2012 quite literally saved my life. I wrote more about the path leading up to just before that diagnosis here (http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-848934). Sadly, I’ve found myself in the same paradoxical thought process. The depression is bad. Suicidal bad. I know some people throw that term out there for effect, but I’m serious – there’s not a waking hour of any day that goes by of late that I don’t think of going through with any number of methods that I’ve come up with over the years. I always thought the question from mental health professionals “do you have a plan?” to not be a good barometer of where I am in the suicidal scale. I’m an intelligent and resourceful individual. Lock me in a padded room and if I have a strong enough will, I will find a way. Intent – intent is what to be concerned about. So, I have intense will, but little intent. I can’t say honestly that there’s none, The chance is less than 10% though, so there’s that.
What can I gain from therapy at this point? I have plenty of “tools in my toolbox,” which in therapist terms means that I’ve been taught a plethora of coping mechanisms. It’s true – I can endure, regardless of how low I get. I have many times in the past and am confident in my resolve if I get to the lowest of lows in the future. I’ll pull though; it’s a cycle and it always passes. Always.. I’m just shy of 38 right now and expect that barring some freak accident or a drastic decline in my own ability to cope, that I’ll last until at least 70. I have liver disease which will slightly shorten my life, but not significantly, provided I don’t take to alcohol to self-medicate, or some other thing that’s hard on the liver. I can go to vent, but again, I let go of things pretty quickly overall. Work is work – I try to separate that from my personal life. If I want to complain about work, I have co-workers. That’s free and they won’t ask me how I feel about that – they already know. Therapy to me would be a stalemate. There’s no truth that I’ll learn about life or whatever that will be a switch to flip to move me into the realm of happiness. Chemistry can be battled with other chemistry/meds, but psychiatric drugs still have a long, long way to go before they are truly useful. Will that happen in my lifetime? It’s possible. At this point I’d say it’s 50/50.
I guess I’m back to the original thought I had on the matter – is it worth the time, effort and money? That time could be spent doing any number of other things that are bearable when I’m down.. Sleeping.. Masturbating.. Trying to talk my wife into sex.. Binge-watching a TV series until really late at night, working, then repeating the process.. Eating a good steak.. See? Lots of good things, some of which are totally free!
I suppose I should get some more work done. My damn flight is delayed, so I may as well knock out some of tomorrow’s stuff. As it stands, I’ll not get to sleep until around 1:00am since it will take me at least that long to drive to the next place after landing.