I wasn’t sure how I got here. How could I have let it all get this bad? I sat slumped back on a couch with cushions too soft and worn in. Outside I could hear the thunder rolling in the distance and the trickle of a few raindrops on the window signaling the arriving of a storm. In my mind, the storm was already here. It had been unknowingly raging on and destroying everything in its path for years.
I sat in a small 12 x 12 room carefully decorated with decor in calming colors and prints with inspirational quotes about life and self-worth strewn across them on the walls. Across from me say my new psychologist, not psychiatrist… there’s a difference. She was a woman in her late 50’s, but she didn’t look anywhere close to the age. She was a small woman, probably not any taller than me. She had a thin frame and soft, gentle features. Her eyes were a pale blue and her baby blonde hair was styled in a pixie cut which she continually tried to tuck behind her ears. Every time I saw her, she looked put together and at ease. I always thought, “this woman has it all figured out. She had the answers that I need.”
The reason that I had chose her was because of her biography that she had written about herself online. It was long and very detailed. It had impressed me that she had taken the time to explain what had happened in her life that led her to counsel others, admit faults in her life, and her desire to motivate others to lead better lives through Christ. I was sold. I picked up my phone and called her to schedule an appointment. On the other line answered a gentle voice. She introduced herself and then asked my name and reason for wanting to schedule an appointment with her… a question I just wasn’t sure how to answer yet.
I sat across from her, looking down at my hands picking off whatever nail polish that would flake off, refusing to make eye contact. I don’t remember much about my first visit with her. I think I was just so consumed with questions about why I was even there. I remember feeling completely vulnerable, like I had no right to privacy anymore. I had given up the privilege of keeping things to myself when I had made the choice to lie, time and time again.
I sensed that she could feel my nervousness, because she was avoiding questions of depth. Instead, she asked about my family, my friends, work and hobbies. I answered her questions as briefly and shallow as I could. I was so hesitant to let her get a glimpse of who I really was. I didn’t need another person seeing how truly fucked up I was. It was the last secret that I wanted to hold onto.
As our $90 and fifty minute session as coming to an end, she asked me a question that I had never been asked before.
“What do you like about yourself?”
I quit picking at my nails and instead looked over at a corner of the room, hoping to find the answer over there. What did I like about myself?… I could feel my eyes glaze over as the question repeated itself over and over again in my mind. I lifted my head to look at her, somehow thinking that she was going to feed me the answer that I was needing.
“That’s what I suspected,” she said very softly as she turned her chair towards she desk. She picked up a clipboard with some papers attached to it and handed them to me along with a pen.
She instructed me that this was a depression scale worksheet and that I needed to read through the questions and answer them as honestly as possible. I quickly did she she said and handed the clipboard and papers back to her. She went through my answers and tallied up the points. Once she finished, she lifted her head up to look at me. She laid her head to the side and a half smile came across her face, a look that I learned was her trying to show me her sympathy.
“Did you know that you have severe depression?”
I just looked at her in disbelief. I couldn’t believe what she was saying. I felt both a wave of relief and panic wash over me. I shook my head at her.
“And from the looks of it, you’ve been dealing with it for along time now,” she said with the half smile still on her face. I wanted to cry. I wanted her to reach out to me so I could cry on her shoulder and not feel so alone.
The moment she said those words, it all made sense. All of these years I have dealt with the feelings and thoughts and accepted them as a legitimate way of feeling. I assumed that everyone felt this way, because everyone had bad days, and this was just another bad day. But my bad days faded into bad weeks, which slipped into bad months. And when I reflected on the past year, my heart ached and I felt numb. It had been a shitty year. And I just wasn’t sure that I had the strength to make it through another year like the last. I knew that something had to change, dramatically, I just wasn’t sure what or how.
She told me that because of my mental state, she would like to see me every week for a while I knew that she was trying to phrase it in a way to show that she wanted to make quick progress with me. But to me, it felt more like a check-up to make sure that I hadn’t decided to off-myself with too much alone time in my mind.
I nodded my head at her and scheduled an appointment with her the following week. I wrote her out a $90 check and was on my merry little way.
I sat out in my car after the appointment feening for a cigarette. It was pouring now; I could barely see through my windshield. To me, it had always been remarkable how the weather outside seemed to align perfectly with how I felt inside. Or maybe it was my mood that aligned with the weather… Did it even matter?
I sat there staring at the water pouring over the windshield like a steady current and felt a large lump rise up in my throat. I couldn’t hold it back, so I just let go. I cried and cussed at myself, hit the steering wheel and cried some more. I knew that no one could see me, but even if they could, I’m not sure that I would have even cared at that point. I was such a fuck-up. Everything and everyone good in my life, I ruined by my careful lack of caring. I did not deserve anything good in my life. I did not deserve to live. I cried harder. The deepest and darkest of thoughts had once again found me and crept into my mind. All at once, ideas on how to stop this endless pain raced to my mind… Drive into oncoming traffic… Drive off a bridge… Take a bottle of sleeping pills… Guns laying around the house… There was a never ending stream of ideas to on how to make it all disappear.
And at that moment, my mother popped into my mind. My beautiful, loving, selfless mother. Selfishly taking my own life would only be destroying hers. And so I couldn’t do it. She would want me to fight, because as she had always told me growing up that she didn’t raise any quitters. So I was going to have to fight this, until I felt like I didn’t have anything left, and then, fight some more.
I pulled down my visor and looked at myself in the compact mirror. I wiped the tears and redness away from my eyes before folding it back up. I placed my car in reverse, backed up and then drove out of the lot and back home nervously unprepared for the long journey I had ahead.