I finally went to therapy, and it was helpful. I’ve never looked down on therapy, because I think an objective perspective can be beneficial to personal development. But I kept putting off my appointments even when I knew I had a problem. I’d have a sad phase, then be fine again and convince myself that I would continue to be okay, but the crashes happened too much. One day Mr. Rocque said to me, “You’re not the woman I married, and I need you to talk to someone if it’s not going to be me.”
It stung, but it was the truth. It’s not that I didn’t want to talk to my husband. But I felt like I was rehashing the same things over and over—things he didn’t understand. Last year kicked my butt. I got married; relocated to a new city; my health went downhill because of self-imposed stress; my father passed the day after Thanksgiving, and I didn’t get a chance to grieve because I jumped back into trying to work and be normal. Yet I didn’t realize how tremendously all of the above impacted me.
Mr. Rocque went with me to my first session, which in hindsight was important. People who have never been depressed don’t understand that it’s not just simply being sad, so they can’t relate, even when they try. The therapist was a nice buffer to confirm that what I’m feeling is very real. But it’s not just about identifying feelings, it’s about finding the cause(s) and tackling solutions. And it helps that my partner has a better understanding of how to cope with me.
Now that I’ve had a couple of sessions, I understand what some of the triggers are and how to deal with them better. Nothing’s going to change at the wave of a wand, but I’m also creating a plan of action to help make my life (and ours) better; and even when the rough days come back, I find comfort in knowing that it will get better as long as I’m proactive about getting over the hump.
Thus far, the biggest lessons I’m learning to apply from therapy are:
1. It’s not just for depressed or mentally ill people. It’s a genuine relief to be able to chat with someone who won’t judge, and get some viable solutions. It can also serve as an intervention, before things come crashing down.
2. Some triggers you discover seem obvious in hindsight, but the mind can be a fascinating tool. Sometimes we subconsciously block things out as a form of protection, but when what we convince ourselves are small problems can fester, and we’re the ones who suffer for it.
3. Relapses can happen but it’s important to not get caught up in your feelings. When I have moments where I just want to stay in bed, I think about things that make me happy and actively pursue them. (For me it’s creative writing and working out.) The mental block that depression can impose is a beast, but you must fight it for the sake of your wellness.
4. Getting help not only helps you but it helps your partner. Now, when I want to be alone, I know how to verbalize it without offending Mr. Rocque. Sometimes I want solitude and sometimes I don’t. It can be tricky, so he’s learned to ask, “What do you need from me right now?”
4. My career is also a large part of my mental state. There’s no immediate fix, but I can learn to navigate it with peace of mind until I eventually change my situation. I work in a cutthroat industry full of a lot of toxic people and situations. But instead of feeling attacked and preparing for battle, I remind myself that people behave the way they do based on their own experiences and insecurities. If I stay focused on my exit plan, it makes the day go by faster.
5. There’s a blessing in the negative. I’m not the happiest about my career, but I always dreamt of working in entertainment media and I made that happen. This says that I’m focused and committed, and that same energy can be channeled toward making a positive shift.
6. It’s okay to be a work in progress, because superhuman beings do not exist.
7. My husband wants the best for me. The fact that he sat in on a session with me, let me talk, and applied what he learned to our real life speaks volumes and has brought us closer as a result.
Have you been to therapy? What did you learn about your relationship with yourself and others? Sound off!
Mr. and Mrs. Rocque are the couple formerly known as Anslem Samuel and Starrene Rhett, Chicago-based journalists who found love in between bylines. Follow the newlyweds’ musings of a marriage in progress here, on Twitter and via their joint blog.