On June 8, 2017, I stopped therapy. The reasons why I stopped are not important but it was not planned. I had had a rough couple of weeks leading up to what would be my “last” session. Instead of a “reset” as I called my appointments, I got blindsided by the reality of making a decision I was not prepared to make at that time.
When I left my therapist’s office, I made it half a block down the road, pulled over and sobbed. I do mean sobbed! I had so many emotions running through me at once as my head was trying to wrap around everything that had just transpired. I was pissed, scared, and in all honesty, I was in complete shock. I was scared I would spiral back into the worst, the crippling depression I had just spent months clawing my way out of and losing the life I was still just learning how to rebuild.
Was I ready to do this thing called life on my own without my therapist of over 4 years? Was I far enough into Post Traumatic Growth (PTG) that I would not backslide? Did I have all the necessary coping strategies in place? So many questions/fears coursed through my mind in the first couple of weeks following my last appointment that I did not have the answers to.
The first 2 weeks after my last appointment was a blur of anxiety and panic. Strep throat made its rounds in my home and my youngest was almost hospitalized with it. For those of you that do not know, illness is my main PTSD trigger. I could feel myself sliding back into the depression. I had all but stopped using my coping strategies and trackers. It was like my mind subconsciously was giving up. I realized that my next set of actions would either send me spiraling further down the rabbit hole or cause me to rise and move forward in my healing process. There would be no in between.
I chose to rise up and move forward.
Holding myself accountable is not an easy thing to do. But neither is plunging back into depression. One of the first things I did was to begin using my coping strategies and trackers again. Every time I stop using my trackers, I slide backward. I can not expect anyone else to do the work only I can do. I realized I was setting myself up for failure constantly by not holding myself accountable.
Simplifying Social Media
I took a very long break from blogging, posting on Instagram, Tumbler, Pinterest, my FB groups, and other FB pages I am creator/admin on. Yes, I did a lot on FB. I slowly gave myself permission to walk away from groups and pages on FB and other social media. I loved the groups and pages but there were some that were no longer healthy for me and it was time to let them go. Others were just too much to maintain. It was time to walk away from them, delete them, let them go.
Just like my life, I decided it was time to incorporate changes to my blog that I have wanted to do for so long but I did not have the knowledge to do it. I began teaching myself the coding that I needed to learn and have been slowly changing things on my blogs. Just like everything else in this post, I gave myself permission to delete and condense several of my blogs to be able to focus on the ones that I truly wanted to keep.
Planning My Life And Tracking It All
I have always been a list maker. It is how I function effectively. I finally found a planner set up that holds myself accountable and allows me to track everything I need to track to keep me moving forward in my healing. My weeklies are a breakdown of mundane tasks like laundry, meal planning, grocery shopping lists, chores, checking finances, etc. Things that are second nature to most people but easily forgotten by me. Having this list in front of me and with me at all times allows me to be productive and to micromanage myself.
Tracking my mental health is a MUST for me. It allows me to see patterns and to recognize when I need to make changes, ramp up my coping strategies, distractions, etc. to once again hold myself accountable for my actions.
I think one of the most important things I am doing is self-care. I am making myself a priority in my own life. This includes exercising, taking naps if needed, healing my gut, making appointments with specialists to see what’s going on with my body, etc. This has been one of the most challenging things I have done in terms of healing. Self-care does not come easy. I was raised to put myself and my needs last.
My Next Chapter
I have no idea what the next chapter holds for me in regards to my PTSD and depression. I can honestly tell you that I am doing everything I can to stay ahead of it and to better my life. Focusing on what needs my attention in the now and trying to remain grounded in the present.
Some days/weeks/months are better, easier than other days/weeks. This fall/winter/spring is the perfect example of that. I slipped back into a depression that was pretty hard to ignore. As I felt it envelop me, I became anti-social and closed myself off. It took all I had to get out of bed and function each day. I am still not 100% months later. I am continuing to fight daily and to heal more each day. I have a life that I am still in the process of rebuilding. One that I am filling with laughter, love, accountability, and life lessons I am learning along the way.