It might be a bit late to be calling this an afternoon affair but I was committed to already not committing to anything, I just hadn’t realized I was going to write about it.
In my deep state of melancholy, as always, I was thinking of what I want for myself for the upcoming year that’s in a couple weeks and when I thought of it sincerely, I just wanted to tell it to someone and them somewhat see it as I was envisioning it in my head. Further in, I thought of how much everyone or life in its entirety seems to expect a commitment from me for the new year, that alongside my family and anyone else who seems entitled to some part of me. So with that thought, I just decided to as well convince myself that you know what, fuck everything else for a sec and just commit to nothing, at the very least for the rest of the afternoon.
My first noncommittal plan was to not necessarily care that I have about 10 bucks in my account which if I’m being honest about, probably had a commitment it would have been used for but instead, I’ve just had fries. Fries are good. I probably should have committed that cash to doing something better, like maybe trying to see my boyfriend before the week is done but again, I just need the non commitment right now… P.s I’m officially broke now so in case anyone needed anything from me in regards to money, I’m really sticking to the course of not committing.
My second non committal was not texting anyone, inclusive of the earlier mentioned boyfriend. Relationships I’m coming to learn are not always synchronized. Me choosing to not text him isn’t because there’s a problem with us or him, I just needed the time to myself to do the most cliché thing in my books which is just wallowing. Wallow and come up with stupid ideas like non committal afternoon. Sue me!! Not committing isn’t completely deciding that I won’t do the said act, it’s just me wavering in my decision on when I will want to text him, and everybody else I guess.
My third non committal and probably the last one that I thought of was not committing to wanting to die as well as not not wanting to die. Read that again. As the kind of coward I am, my default go to thought when I have no idea what is going on with my life is always death. Morbid, I know. I probably will never die when I think it’s appropriate to for me but it helps me know that death’s there regardless. So for my non committal afternoon, I wasn’t gonna commit to either dying or not dying so I guess I was just going to survive for the afternoon which as it seems I’ve done because it’s exactly 6.52 pm when I’m writing this.
Do I feel any different for not committing to anything this afternoon, no, the answer is not at all. I feel as stranded and overly committed to things and people and it’s petrifying. I’m still committed to living because here I am writing this, writing how much I’m still not sure I’m cut out for life and its commitments. Not sure where that leaves me … but you know the real take from all this, have fries 😄, even with a dollar or ten. Fries are the shit!!
Allow me to take a minute…might as well take it with me.
Being 23 has been a lot like that. It has been a compilation of me taking a lot of minutes. Minutes that I may or may not have had or still have the most valid of reasons as to why they were taken. As I write this now, that minute I just took was to entirely decompress the surging anxiety of trying to come up with what I would deem the right words that would sum up this post. I have a lot and I have nothing. Being twenty-three has felt like the beginning of life and the edge of death all wrapped up in one scantily bow. To reassure me more than you, my reader, it is best I make it known that this will be a telltale sign of just how all over the place being this age has been for me.
I presume that had I known being 23 would have been like a free fall off a rollercoaster, I genuinely would have been fine skipping through it all together. But we both kinda know that it would have been a failed mission from the start. I am still 23 for those of you who may be wondering and I still have a month and a few weeks to go before I can otherwise say I no longer belong to this clusterfuck of an age. It is in these past ten months that I have felt no better than an invalid whose sole purpose has been to merely exist and fight the reigns of suicidality. And I quote, ‘’ To have no known purpose in life, is to seek a defined purpose in death ‘’. It is at this age that I have sought out a purpose in life but immensely still feel lost in a maze of how exactly to play out the beginning aspects of the said purpose. Just before I began to write this, I have been overcome with an immense fear that maybe what I have mapped out as my purpose, may actually not be it. The thought itself was whether what I think is my purpose isn’t in alignment with what is God’s purpose for me; it is an absolutely terrifying thought to have. At 23, figuring out a purpose is all I seem to have achieved with no laid-up plan on how to begin.
I am a very complex human being. Patience isn’t a favoured virtue of mine. Being 23 has tested this virtue vehemently. Straight out of college and my life, as complicated as it has been this far was meant to have a meaningful trajectory. I was meant to at least have the mental capacity to distinguish between my feelings as a 23-year-old going through a beginner’s life crisis and my mind’s trudge through having a mental illness. To say I still don’t have a distinguishable balance between the two would be putting it mildly. It is quite a dilemma. My sister is often my constant reminder that this part of being at this very age at which life seems not to have a designated direction makes it the most basic aspect of experiencing a beginner’s life crisis. She keeps insisting that it is perfectly fine that I don’t have my shit together despite the fact that I have been spending the last year and a half smoking cigarettes and sleeping at six in the morning; which I should state will be the case again tonight as it is already dawn. It has been hard to contend with my feelings that any part of my routine for the past year, most especially since turning a year older is supposedly normal for anyone in this transition from college. I can’t help but think that maybe my lack of any progression in life has been due to the definite failure of my mind to function in a remotely less ill manner. For me, struggling mentally has become the definition of who I am. I cannot begin to place where my depression and/or anxiety start or where it indefinitely ends. Like I said, a scantily wrapped up bow.
I wish there was a long list of things I could say that being this age has happened for me besides the greatest existential crisis of my not-so-long life. It is now I have wondered just how wrong my mind might be. I pride myself on how in tune I am with the subjective nature of psychology, it is what I will it to be as my purpose in life. It is in this same nature that I can’t help but wonder whether all that I may have thought to be the real underlying issue was actually just the beginning of a very tumultuous journey in my mental health. These ladies and gentlemen are what it is like to be a hypochondriac. To question if you are a sitting duck for an unidentified mental illness that is yet to fully flourish just because you are at the prime age at which it emerges. Again, as I said, I am a complex and highly complicated 23-year-old girl.
And finally, to be 23 has been to experience a deep-sated sense of isolation. Before this age, I wasn’t generally a social person but in the past couple of months, my need to be away from everyone has been incessant. I have intentionally stayed away from friends and family in the wake of very chaotic feelings.
That is kind of the million-dollar question right now. Is what I am feeling part of the overall despondence brought about by my mental illness? Could the harrowing exhaustion, anger and hopelessness that is completely incapacitating me be tethered to my being a ‘basket case’. I have well for months now racked my mind on whether my lack of motivation to be a remotely normal functioning human being was because I damn well couldn’t. It has been the utter bane of my existence. Trust me, there is only so much of the same thought that can plague you over and over again before your mind is ready to jump over the deep end.
I believe it is not stated enough how the term depression sometimes tends to feel a tad bit too linear. For me at least, it no longer embodies the tumultuous nature and degree of detachment that precedes having major depression. Hence the question, ’That’s it?’. It surely can’t just be it anymore, not when it feels like I unlock a highly complex level of this ailment every other time that I am bound to experience an episode of it. It surely also doesn’t help that it is entirely possible to experience many of the symptoms of depression without being psychologically unwell. Many a time I have struggled to come to terms with the awareness that this illness seems to spread a lot like wildfire among my peers because surely, they wouldn’t be experiencing the same kind of agony I seem to carry around every waking moment. The gravity that there may be a chance that they are going through the same degree of despondence as I am is truthfully heartbreaking.
My experience within this realm of psychological turmoil surely no longer fits within the box that is depression. I am no longer of the meagre notion that depression isn’t just sadness. If the tumultuousness of my pain is anything close to what is truly defined as depression, then it should be made well aware that depression was never sadness, to begin with.
This is for those unwanting of the new year. It is for those whose uncertainties in life didn’t magically disappear just because the new year is here. It is also for those whose sadness didn’t escape them when the clock hit midnight. These little words are for you.
I haven’t felt much of anything in a brief moment. When in regard to feelings, I wanna believe that my thought trajectory is always leaning on happier feelings, feelings of light and joy. Sometimes maybe even a little bit of peace. It is the new year and I can’t seem to feel the light and love going on around the world. Do I necessarily think it’s my fault that I feel forlorn at the start of a year that is magically supposed to bring cheer, no, not really? I understand hope and faith in wanting this time around to be different but what for us who can’t seem to grasp those little motions of hoping for another year of change. I read somewhere that sometimes all in one year, one is capable of living three years in one. Can’t blame me for feeling scared that this new year might in turn bring me three years instead of one.
This is for the unprepared. These words are for the sceptic people not sure of themselves enough to find joy in the new year. This is for those still carrying remnants of the day ago year that still lingers. For those who feel their losses so immensely, the beginning of a new year would be like erasing the memory of the loved one no longer there. This is for those who would rather not sit through doing a recap of their past year for it would mean scaling back old wounds. All of this is for us who will take it a day at a time as always.
What are antidepressants?
I wanna believe that majority of you are familiar with the term antidepressants or have come across it once in a while somewhere. For the few that may not be aware of what exactly they are, they are medicine taken for different mental health illnesses. Most especially depression. That’s the lame man’s definition.
Why am I on antidepressants?
I’ve mentioned before that I have been on and off antidepressants before. I started taking antidepressants for my depression and anxiety sometime last year after a terrible episode that required me to see a psychiatrist and through that session, I was prescribed my first set of antidepressants. I was on Mirtazapine for my first dose and I’ll go into detail on the side effects in a few. For a first timer, I can say I took it like a champ. It’s a different experience to be on this medication but it might seem scary at first but I can assure or anyone who may be on the path to having it prescribed to them by their doctor, it will help. It is part of the means of getting better.
Side effects of the antidepressants
The side effects stated below are mine and not a general over view of all the side effects one is prone to get while on any set of antidepressants prescribed to you by your psychiatrist.
My initial reaction to starting antidepressants was that it would minimise the depression I was feeling in a matter of days but I got to learn quite quickly that that wouldn’t be the case. On mitarzapine, the effects quite frankly hit me like a hurricane. The depression quite literally became worse before it became better. On most occasions, there is always a fluctuation in weight and sadly for me, I gained a lot of weight. My appetite sorta increased ten fold and I was eating on a constant. The hunger was on another level. When I mentioned earlier that I took it like a champ was because despite how gravely the side effects were, I never discontinued it and was on it for a month before I had my prescription changed by my then psychiatrist.
My second prescription was what I gotta admit taking was an extreme sport. I didn’t go long on them due to the grave side effects they had on my body. I won’t mention the names of the exact medicine I was on just in case it gives off the wrong depiction of the said meds. I remember on the second night of taking them, I began to have serious tremors. I couldn’t stop shaking and my teeth rattled, you’d think I was on the North Pole. In addition to that, my heart started pounding so heavily, I was sure I was gonna have a heart attack. With the side effects being that heavy, I had to discontinue the medication and it took me a whole nearly six months before I went on any other antidepressants.
Mid year of 2021, I got into another depression episode that required me to visit a new psychiatrist since I was home over that period. This time around, I got a better prescription than the last which is what I am still on currently. I am on 10mg Cipralex and 10mg haloperidole. The first one is majorly for my severe depression whereas the latter is for my anxieties and agitation. On the first take of this medication, it didn’t have much of a side effect that I could positively point out but now when I’m currently on it, there are a few new side effects that are damning to the soul.
This will positively be very inappropriate to whoever reads this but I’ll say it anyway, my vagina has been going through it with this current set of meds I’m on. Going through it, I mean it’s dead dead. Like I can’t seem to get aroused what’s so ever and trust me, I have tried. You name it, besides sex though… don’t gotta a guy for that, or a boyfriend too.
Not too long, I was ranting to a close friend how I can’t seem to feel the slightest bit of sensation down there and she had a good laugh out of it. Besides the dead vagina, I also can’t seem to feel much joy over anything which is a lot like a mild numbness. What I can’t truly stand though, out of all this, is the agitation at night, right before bed. It is darn right annoying. It’s such an extreme sport to get myself settled in bed when it feels like every thought is racing and none of them have got sleep in them.
So yeah, just thought I’d share my brief experience with taking antidepressants and hope it distigmatizes them for the better.
‘’How do I begin to set out to the world this painful reality that even I aren’t sure I have fully acknowledged? Most nights, I am uncertain of whether I have the reality of a tomorrow. I can’t seem to decide if seeing the night through is my main goal or whether I am just being dramatic over my emotions. There is this unbearable need inside my head that tells me that nothing is right, that nothing I feel or do can or will make anything right.
For the past two weeks or so I have been fighting the reality of the fact that I have been feeling suicidal. It has no longer just been fleeting thoughts anymore but solid assurances that I no longer can decide on whether life is bearable enough to be lived. I have thought through it so many times, I have questioned myself on whether it is real in both my heart and my head. It physically aches inside me whenever I think that I could finally be ready to let everything go. It is a very unbearable burden to carry because I have found no means or way to tell this to anyone. I am convinced that either no one will believe me or they probably won’t know what to do.
How do I begin to explain this to anyone when I myself haven’t entirely come to terms with this frightening realization? How do I put this into words to anyone else when all I truly feel is shame over even feeling like this? I say this with absolute resolute, the only thing that I am certain about in the midst of all the turmoil going on inside my head is that I have absolutely no idea what to do or where to start dealing with these feelings or these thoughts of suicide. It scares me not knowing how or where to start. So yeah, that is right where I am.’’
The above text was written by a very desperate, sad, despaired and most especially depressed girl. I can’t say with certainty that any of those damning feelings are gone yet, or better yet, I do know where they are. They are retreating to the back parts of my mind now that it feels a lot like I have a bit of amour against them. When I read those words above, I remotely can’t entirely recognize the girl who wrote them. She looks and feels a lot like a hollow shell and it is terrifying to think that at any one point I was this girl, I am this girl. The emotions feel like a vague memory, it has the vagueness of a sketchy dream that only holds bits and pieces of what is to be recalled of it. I wish all the memories of that pain could be erased but some of it is marred on my arms as-a-result of trying to drain it out. The pain is stuck deep inside, deeper inside than the mere blood in my veins. The scars in my hand are just a reminder of a very short-lived relief that didn’t ever quite feel like relief at all.
There is a very stark difference between being alone and being lonely. My depression is always certain to make sure I feel the best of both worlds, at least in regard to those two aspects of isolation. The most singular of the two feelings is when your entire being is encased in a fog of loneliness. No sense of reassurance would convince you otherwise of the fact that you are absolutely alone and beyond lonely. This time around, it dawned on me that I wasn’t intentionally choosing to be lonely apart from the intentional choice I made to be alone. It took all the energy I had in me to have any conversation I might have kept up with during this time. I can say with certainty that I have not spoken to the few people in my life to whom on occasion have seemed to retain some parts of me as their friend. The looming darkness is all that encases you, it is all I could think about. I was entirely convinced that nobody in my world would find a solution enough to save me from the dark pit I was in. I felt nothing beyond the scariest darkness known to my mind.
I feel like it’s important I make this fact clearer, depression is not just a bit of sadness. It is a lot more than even I can express. It is for sure something I still don’t think I have the full grasp over in regard to how vast of a feeling, an emotion, a concept, a thought, a sensation, an enlightening and a whole lot more. Depression is also quite invisible. It never is something graspable to the naked eye. For me, it is very suffocating. My mind never feels like it has any space to breathe, it feels like the only space I can afford to think is in remote gasps of air. It feels like it would resemble a lot of what I think it feels like to drown. The panic, anguish, despair and the complete lack of hope for rescue sounds a lot like how my mind is right now. Sally Brampton, the author of the memoir Shoot the damn Dog wrote in a very precise manner what it is like to experience the depravities of the mental fuck that is depression. She describes its most corrosive aspect as despair and catastrophic. She continues to elaborate on how impenetrable and unendurable it is.
I have experienced suicidal ideation before but never to its full potential as it was this time around. I knew I was deep in the gutter, submerged under when I couldn’t quit thinking of just how peaceful and pain numbing dying would feel like. When the thought became a permanent fixture in my mind, I knew there was no way around this. I didn’t want to be alive anymore. That awareness became the dawn of a new twisted kind of sorrow. I recall on some nights crying so deeply and feeling the pain and anguish so physically from knowing that I was lost in myself. I was lost in my hopelessness and my mind had resided itself to no longer living but to completely quit existing. To a degree, I thought if I hurt myself enough, it would ease that ache even just a little bit, enough to satiate it. Dull it down. It didn’t quite do it. It led me to commit my first suicide attempt. I remember the night vaguely but I recall the intent behind the pain I felt that night. I recall the finality to my thoughts when I placed the razor to my vein. I remember the soaked tears in my sheets from my wet face. It was a pain I can only describe as purely indescribable. 23rd of October,2021 I decided I didn’t want to live anymore, at least not in the state of mind that I was in.
I can’t say with absolute resolute that I don’t want to not live anymore. Am alive now, still in despair but alive. I’m on antidepressants currently so it is all I can hope that along the way, I find it easier to want to stay alive. A lot is still yet to be done and I can’t say for certain when any of it will be done. I still have struggles that play a major role in making it harder for me to fully get the help I need so it is all I can do but trying live a minute at a time. It has taken me nearly a month to write this and I’m okay with that. Writing and reading for me take quite the hit in periods of my depression so to an extent, I am proud I got to be candid about what it has and is still like for me to live with this unbearable monster that lives inside of my head.
I smoke among the dead at night. Most people would be shaken at the thought of that mere occurrence but I’m not. When I think of it now, I wonder why that little aspect of things has never really phased me considering I have been out there at the wee hours of the morning. My mind has fears of its own, dead people just isn’t one of them.
Maybe it is the silence that calms me. It sure isn’t the cigarettes I’m taking twice a night and four times a day. Or maybe it could be the darkness of the dead of night that gives me a sense of resemblance. It shows me that the darkness inside couldn’t possibly be that scary, at least not scary enough to stop me from staring at it alone, with the company of the seven gravesites in the backyard of my balcony. How about, it could also be that those dead folks who are buried there can feel my silent screams from the inside every night as I exhale the smoke out of my lungs. I try not to cough, we have a no sound policy out there when it’s just our souls that seem to come alive.
I hope they know of the nights that I wish I was in there with them, buried under the soil to where it is said to be peaceful. The adage, ‘’rest in peace’’ had to have had a mild relevance to the fact that besides your soul, your body and mind too can rest on the ground six feet under where not a beep of the darkness of depression can touch you. I smoke in the midst of the dead. I feel nothing and everything the darkness has to offer. I welcome it with open arms just as I do with every inhale and exhale of the cigarettes that lay print of their smoke in the middle of my fingers.
Disclaimer; This is a very anxiety-ridden post so I hope you can bear with me.
What my anxiety told me today…
My blog update (this very same one that I am writing now) will not make any absolute sense to anyone who will come across it, which begs the question of why am I even trying to write it to begin with. It will probably be a jumbled mess of my thoughts. No one should be subjected to reading my not so coherent thoughts.
Everything I will probably write here on this precise post will make zero sense to anyone. It probably is and will be an exaggeration of my said anxiety and it does not need to be highlighted at all.
I am incapable of writing anything substantially true and intelligent about what it feels like to live life with anxiety. I am never too conscious of it anyway, it probably is just another fabrication of my mind. Get over yourself Mercy, you can’t get any less pathetic than this.
I am an imposter at my own experience in anxiety which technically means that I probably don’t have anxiety at all. Nothing about my life can legitimize that I do actually have anxiety so why don’t I merely stop trying to convince the world that I do have it just so I can cover up being a weak human being.
Nobody likes my blog. Everyone probably thinks of it as quite mediocre and cliché. So what, that you experience a degree of sadness more often than not and that you are an attention seeking bitch which is probably why you cut yourself and have zero concept of selflove. That doesn’t make you anymore depressed than the rest of the world. The world truly doesn’t care much about what you write. They definitely won’t care about the pity party you are having with yourself right now by writing this.
I have no place in this world for me and my anxiety. (p.s I genuinely do believe this.)
My anxiety reared its ugly head out today. Maybe it was due to the fact that it was a lot more at the forefront of my thoughts today than it is on other days. Late last night before bed, my sister and I were having an honest conversation about why it is life feels very hopeless currently, especially for me to be precise. It is through that conversation that I was able to reveal to both myself and her just how immensely anxious I am over what is supposed to be the next phase of my life. The revelation of just how much anxiety I have for this next phase of life was both liberating to know as well as scary as hell. Later after having that conversation, I went to bed with quite a lot on my mind. Now that I knew why it was taking me so long to make any resemblance of progress in life, it left me questioning how exactly am I supposed to get past the crippling anxiety that I have.
Coming into today, I knew that I wanted to write concerning every little thought that was skimming through my mind about what it is like to have anxiety always as a voice second to that of your conscious thoughts. I didn’t know how I was going to be elaborate enough to give a sense of clear understanding and depiction of what it is like to go through the motions with anxiety wrapped around you like a second skin. Just thinking about how I wanted to project my anxiety in words, gave me major anxiety. The anxiety I got earlier just thinking about what I was going to write about was what prompted me to start this blog the way I did. I would begin by depicting exactly what it is like to have anxiety have you second guess every little bit of everything that you do. I was and still very much are conscious of my anxiety now even as I write this. My anxiety has me immensely worried that I’ll come out looking like a fraud or an imposter who’s just full of excuses over why she hasn’t made any kind of progress in her life since finishing school. I tried writing down prompts as a result of my anxiety so I wouldn’t keep repeating myself but now as I am trying to write this using them, I am afraid that they don’t seem to be making much sense to me now. That statement alone is a very big depiction of just how prominent anxiety is for me.
I have alluded in previous blogs just how weird of a child I was. As I have grown over the years, a lot of those weird quacks that I didn’t quite understand why I had them now make a lot of sense because they were merely just anxieties I had. Today, most of them would fall under what most would perceive as just personality traits and I too think that to an extent, they have morphed deeper into my personality than I care to admit. I not too long ago wrote about how bad of a perfectionist I am and maybe I didn’t dig deeper on why is the case but I understand now that it actually has a lot to do with my anxiety. For me, having everything happen in a precise and specific way allows me to gain control of the outcome. At the back of my mind, anxiety is the voice that requires me to feed on that sense of control. I have tried to never find out what the consequences will be if things don’t happen in perfect order but I am probably guessing that the world doesn’t collapse and neither does my life. Anxiety makes you too scared to find out that nothing probably does happen.
In the case of my not so foreseeable future, anxiety has taken away every sense of hope I have that adulting is not some big bad wolf that intends to gobble me up and spit me out like cud. It was a long time coming but for the past couple of months, I have been evading the subject of what’s next for me now that school is done. I have told myself and those around me of just how unprepared I am for working or looking for a job at that. Most people’s responses to my uncertainty of choice are that I would eventually have to start somewhere, regardless of whatever. As long as the rest of the world has gone down the same road into adulting, I don’t have much of a choice in it either. Revisiting this conversation with my sister was able to give me insight and perspective of just how much my anxiety has the reign over this. I probably did not take time to really go into the depths of why I was so resistant to the idea of working and of not feeling qualified enough to work in my field of expertise. Feeling anxious can do that to someone; Blind you from the fact that it is no ordinary fear but in hindsight, it is genuinely crippling anxiety that you’re feeling.
Now that I am aware of just how much anxiety has a hold on me right now, I do not know how to work my way around it. I still very much are terrified of looking for work and starting that work. I feel quite amateurish in the career I chose and I don’t think there is much I can do about that feeling, not when it will probably take me years of more studying in school for me to trust in my expertise. On previous occasions, I have had a little control over my anxiety through smoking and truthfully speaking, I can’t seem to even stand the scent of an unlit cigarette, let alone smoke it. I thought before that if I replaced self-harm with smoking, it would give me a better hold on my anxiety levels but I am aware that it merely turns into a rabbit hole that is never quite easy to get out of. I have been clean for a couple of months now, I think it’s safe to say I am trying to keep it that way.
It is of great importance that I try and get a hold of this crippling anxiety that I have over starting work and getting a job. Right now, all it has achieved is make me absolutely horrified about life and what to expect of it. My ambitions in life have become less because I am convinced that I don’t want to live long enough to keep trifling with anxiety at every step of my life. Anxiety demystifies death for me every other day. I can’t even express this to anyone because it comes off as such a cowardly notion to not want to live over the tiniest bit of change. Anyone would think that dying is too big of a reason or in their minds, too melodramatic of an excuse to do just because I am not ready to take up life by its horns… and I wouldn’t blame anyone for thinking that. Anxiety is a ball of melodramatic fear over consequences that are very much unlikely to happen. I can’t tell you what exactly petrifies me so much about the whole idea of getting a job as a counsellor and having a supervisor but I can assure you, I am convinced in my mind that I am not ready for it and if on the chance that I do start off unprepared, I will be the world’s unhappiest human being which eventually might give me reason enough to jump ship from this thing we call life.
Over the month of August, among the other many books I got to read, I came across a book that I consider myself quite lucky to have found. I believe the book is a memoir, I am certain that it is a memoir, written by an author named Lori Gottlieb. The title of the book is Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. When I first came across it, I wasn’t entirely sure it was a book I would fully be invested in. I knew it entailed matters concerning therapy and I was a bit iffy on whether it would be artistically motivating to read. I can say with certainty now that this book is a lot more than I anticipated. I read it gradually, but loved every bit of it, including how expressive the author wrote. I am genuinely glad I got to read it to completion.
Without giving out too much of it, the plot of the book is something that quite captivated me. I learned a lot and it gave me quite the insight. I say this from the perspective of someone who has mildly studied psychology, ( I say mildly because all I have had the chance to study it, is through a diploma and if I am being honest, I still consider myself quite the amateur in regards to it). Before I can delve into my own relation to psychology, I just want to elaborate on how insightful it was reading MaybeYou Should Talk to Someone. Insightful in that, it was able to bring light into the subject of therapy from both a therapist’s opinion and that of a client’s opinion. It sort of normalized seeking professional therapeutic assistance, to those who already had sort it out and equally to those who hadn’t. I found that quite wonderful about the book. Besides just normalizing therapy itself, it too humanized therapists as more than just their professions. The author who is a psychotherapist takes us down the journey of being a therapist as well as seeking one out for herself. I found that quite great because, speaking from a personal opinion, one can be quick to perceive therapists as invincible. It is easily misjudged that therapists, being what their profession entails, are too strong of human beings to go through similar motions as those of their clients. On the off chance that they do experience similar hardships, the perception is that they are equipped to somewhat counsel themselves out of those said hardships. I should clarify that it does not work like that at all. As a psychology student, it is insisted enough that therapists need their own therapists for themselves. It’s entirely a chained link of therapists seeking out therapy from each other. That aspect of the book was quite important for me. I applauded the book mainly for that, besides all the other wonderful aspects of it that were brought out.
If someone came to me and asked me if I would advise them on seeking out help from a therapist or counsellor, or even a psychiatrist, my outright first answer would be yes. It is entirely important to give time and care to one’s mind as is given to one’s body. It would be instinctual for me to say yes as my first answer, but I owe you the honesty that it will not be technically a walk in the park. This is from a very biased opinion, this is my opinion as a client who’s been to therapy, it is not the opinion of a psychology student. This is also not meant to be a discouragement towards anyone out to seek therapeutic help, not at all. Therapy is great, wonderful even, but it will require a lot of you. Some parts of you will be required, parts that you may not be quite yet aware of.
My first experience of professional therapy was with my school counsellor in college. If I am being truthfully honest, it was long overdue. I want to be very clear that when I refer to professional therapy or counselling, I mean it as therapy from a professionally trained counsellor or psychologist. One who has studied in that field and is not a self-appointed counsellor. Anyone can give advice, not everyone can offer therapy. Just needed to be clear on that. I am strictly talking about a professional psychologist.
It was quite a big step for me to reach out to the school counsellor. I wasn’t the most approachable person, and neither was I the most approaching. At school, I knew well to never be too personal with anyone. Actually, if my memory serves me right, I was incited by my sister to seek out the counsellor because my sister thought of me then as a ticking time bomb. I was convinced that I wanted a baby, ( major eye roll) and I was only twenty years old. Then, it felt like such an urgency for me, like it was the only thing that I was missing, and it would somehow complete my life. I was quite naïve then because even now, I am not remotely ready for a child. Therapy was able to show that to me. I later learned that I was overcompensating for something entirely different. Anyway, my first take on therapy was good. I found solace and empathy that I had never quite experienced before. It was as it should have been, it was therapeutic for me and I was able to go through therapy for the next three years I had in college. It took a bit of a turn for me because the relationship between me and the school counsellor progressed to a very close friendship which in therapy is regarded as a dual relationship. To be able to maintain the levels of professionalism, it is frowned up to have any other sort of relationship outside the client/counsellor relationship. It is perceived that if the boundaries are severed, the therapist will not be able to give enough credibility in her profession hence why it is important that one seeks out a different therapist when boundaries are crossed.
For me, I wouldn’t say she entirely quit being my counsellor, and I didn’t seek therapy elsewhere. She transformed into a guide to whom I sort out counsel and advice. Now she is practically like my best friend who is also my Yoda.
Therapy was able to open me up in ways I probably would never have had the chance to before. It even motivated me into being a better student in psychology. Sometime last year, I was able to go back to the professional context of therapy with an entirely new therapist who was just that, my therapist. I only got to see her for about a month before I stopped. The experience of it was quite different than my first which leads me to my next piece of advice, you don’t have to be stuck in a therapy that you don’t feel is working for you. It is absolutely okay to decide on changing your current therapist and seeking out one who best fits you. I understand for those who have been to therapy that it may sometimes feel like a betrayal to your therapist if one considers leaving, but it is best to remember that it is your wellbeing that comes first. There will be no hard feelings from your therapist.
From the standpoint of being a soon to be counsellor, I have only had so little experience as one. I did my first internship as a counsellor at a hospital and I genuinely disliked every moment of it. I was extremely underqualified and my supervisor thought it best to leave me alone on most occasions to tend to actual clients who needed therapy. I often hope that the clients I got to see were able to seek out a second opinion from a more qualified professional. Over time, I have not had the chance to be a counsellor since I finished my diploma. Let’s just say I have been putting it off for nearly a year now. I have convinced myself that I am not ready and I am not certain when I ever will be. On multiple occasions, I have had some serious self-doubt over whether psychology is even the right course for me. Most of the self-doubt best comes from the fact that I am on most occasions, a better client than I am a psychologist. I am two sides of the same coin. Reading this book sort of gave me a perspective of what it is like to be on both sides of the spectrum. The author delves into her own therapy and how difficult it was at first to not feel like her own therapist wasn’t doing enough for her as she thought she would towards her own clients. I am well aware of how that feels because it was in that exact position that I quit seeing my last therapist. Every day, I go through it in my head whether psychology was the best choice for a career. I knew I wanted to be a psychologist when I was in high school. I knew that I needed to be able to give some form of help to those who were like me then, to kids who had never quite felt like they were ‘’normal’’. I believe that I still want to do that, even despite the self-doubt. I still very much want to help people who struggle with their mental health. All I can do is hope that soon, I will get to offer that help.
To finish this off, I would definitely recommend reading Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. It is a wonderful, insightful, inspiring, beautiful and enlightening read. Lori Gottlieb is a wonderful author from whom I would love to learn more from, especially as a psychotherapist. Be sure to check it out. One can access it on the e-reader called Z library.
Some quotes I picked up from the book that I absolutely loved…
“ we have to let go of the fantasy of creating a better past.”
” When the present falls apart, so does the future we had associated with it. ”
Do you ever have truths about yourself that aren’t exactly known to others but are quite obvious to you? Well, if you do, I do too… Some are always there, like some permanent life fixture that doesn’t change. Others, are new every other time. Without further embarking on the specifics of what type of truths I’m talking about, allow me to share a few of which have been skimming through my thoughts for the past while.
Oh, and by the way, now I will refer to them as Naked truths …hopefully, it will make sense along the way why I refer to them as so.
Naked truth no.1
I don’t think I have friends anymore. Be rest assured that I am not saying this in some search for a sense of pity or sympathy. It is partially my doing that I am not acquainted with others besides my immediate family. I must confess that I am not the most tolerant of people especially if there is not much to tolerate about them. Pardon me for sounding like a bitch; it is not entirely to mean that I am surrounded by intolerable people, I just don’t do well in the area of creating and maintaining relations with others. This is especially when I most often don’t feel like people genuinely do want to maintain long-lasting friendships with me that carry some form of bond. I have had friends here and there, a few acquaintances, but none who have stuck around long enough. It has always been seasonal relations that are a matter of circumstance which is fine, not everything is technically meant to last. All I am truthfully saying is that I have a lot of temporary friendships and they always never feel solid, if I may use this term lightly. So yeah, that is one of the recent naked truths that recently dawned on me. I wouldn’t say that I am exactly disturbed by that truth. On most days, I am comfortable with the little cluster of people I get to interact with every once in a while. I also, as I admitted earlier, feel like a partial reason for this fact is because I don’t make much effort in being a friend to others. I admittedly tend to be caught up in my own mind and nonfunctional life that I easily get exhausted having to mingle with others outside the walls of my life and mind.
Disclaimer: If anyone who happens to read this first paragraph gets offended by it over the meagre chance that they actually do consider themselves my friend, I am immensely sorry and maybe we can catch up sometime when either of us is somewhat ready to communicate. Cheers mate.
Naked truth no.2
I am a wimp at trying out this thing called living. Like my history may show, I am more of a survivor/ exister more than I am a live’r. Death is often painted in my thoughts as some form of escape from having to go through the day to day agonies of life. Before this turns out sounding a lot like some version of suicidal ideation [probably slightly is], let me elaborate.
Do I want to die sometimes? Yes. Do I always want to die? No. Is the idea of death as an escape romanticized in my head a little too often cause I am a wimp at life? Absolutely.
When it’s hard to conceptualize that life isn’t meant to be easy on most days, I struggle with myself over why I have to live through it. I find difficulty within myself over the fact that instead of simply ceasing to exist, what is expected of me is that I am supposed to trudge through the hardship, tumbledown, pick myself up and move through it with showing just enough weakness, but not too much. In those moments when life has dealt me a hard one, it is usually a strain for my mind to not want to jump ship. It is like my mind, loses all ability to conjure a better way out which is very cowardly of me now as I listen to myself say it out loud. I never said my mind was strong. With my history of things, it is quite obvious that mental strength isn’t exactly a stronghold of mine. I allude to this to why I think I might not be the one to live till fifty, perseverance sure doesn’t sound like a stronghold of mine but who’s to say how strong I will be in the future. With the uncertainty of things, I may as well surprise myself. I may probably survive all this while still believing that I was never quite cut out for it. So for now, I choose not to be too worried about it, at least in the hope that I’ll keep on surviving long enough to live somewhere in my life.
Naked truth no.3
I have mentioned before in previous writings that I have occasionally been a smoker. Quite recently actually, I would admit that I went beyond the limits and became a light smoker. When I started smoking, it turned into quite an enigma for me. It was something I picked late last year and might I say, I arguably don’t really regret it. It didn’t necessarily serve the intended purpose that I had initially thought it would, but it worked for me somehow. I will never forget the first night that I had my first real cigarette. For starters, I considered having my first cigarette mainly because I thought I would look cool, being a female and smoking. You would understand what I mean if I could paint a better picture for you outside of my mind. It was a cheesy reason, I know…no need to roll your eyes too hard. I had thought of it for a while but never did I quite get around to trying it. Finally, when I did get around to doing it, I was alone in my sister’s apartment and I felt like there was never a better time than the present. I might have convinced myself that I needed to unwind and calm down a little, from what exactly, I don’t remember. It was quite the experience and truth be told, I did feel quite calm afterwards. I could have imagined it, or it may actually have worked. I remember smoking that first night in the house on the couch while directly facing the mirror in the living room. I was so enthralled by seeing myself pull out smoke from the cigarette and then slowly hold it in for a second or two before releasing it to the air. Over the next few weeks, I smoked at least two cigarettes a night. It was in those moments when I felt invincible to a degree. Like nothing much could hurt me, as long as I could smoke it away into the night. It was a mild sense of power that I had never quite felt. I liked it. On the downside, I began to smell like cigarette smoke and my lips were turning a shade too dark for my liking. Then over time, I stopped it for a while, picked up the habit again later and now I stopped again. Now, like four days ago, I bought myself one cigarette thinking that maybe my intolerance for it had sort of reduced …I was incredibly wrong, the moment I lit up and took a go at it, I was beyond nauseated, I could hardly stand it. I am still working out what theories could explain to me now over why I can’t in the least stand the smell of a lit cigarette. Maybe, I just don’t consider it so cool anymore.
For now, those are just but a few naked truths of myself. I can assure you, I’ll be revealing more in time. Maybe it could become a segment of mine. We will just have to wait and see, now won’t we.