Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 19 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Life without therapy

Okay, that title is a bit misleading. I'm still in therapy, but I've cut back to every other week rather than every week. No big deal, right? I mean, that's the point of working with a therapist, to get better. And that's what's happened. I've improved enough to cut back on therapy. So why do I feel so lost?

My sense of loss seems over-blown. If I had cancer, I'd be thrilled NOT to see my doc every week. It would mean my illness had improved. I guess this is just another difference between mental illness and most other illnesses. If any of my other docs were treating me for a chronic condition, I'd be ecstatic if they told me I didn't need to follow-up as often!

While I like all of the healthcare providers I see, the difference between my therapist and the rest of them is the relationship. I have relationships with my therapist and my psychiatrist that far exceed the intimacy of the relationships I have with my orthopedic surgeon or allergist, for example. My depression has improved primarily because of my relationship with my therapist.

That's the irony of getting better, I guess. In order to improve, I need a close, trusting, stable relationship; but once I do improve, that valued, reliable relationship changes. Continue to get better, and I lose the relationship all together. Like I said, cruel irony.

I've been seeing my therapist at least weekly for 3 or 4 years. She's been a stable, supportive presence in my life. Every week, rain or shine, I knew I had that hour to figure things out, let off steam, or get the encouragement I needed. My relationships with my psychiatrist and psychologist are a couple of the very few I have where the boundaries and roles are crystal clear. I will miss that clean, clear hour every other week. Seems so small, but that hour of simple, uncomplicated communication holds me all week. I'm not sure if it can hold me for two.

I realize, intellectually, that the decreased need for therapy signals a momentous leap forward in my odyssey with depression. I realize that, but it still feels like a loss. I also realize going from every week to every other week is hardly something to freak out about, and I'm not freaking out. But I feel a loss--an ironic, confounding loss.

I needed to write about this, because I wonder if others have also felt this loss? I wonder if, like me, others have felt silly and shameful about feeling loss over such a small, and ultimately positive change? If so, you're not alone. I feel it, too.


Emma said...

Yeah, I can sympathize. Of course I find this is true more with the therapists that I liked and benefited from seeing than from the ones I didn't like (from when I was a teen).

Janine Kain said...

I can relate to this loss. I made the difficult decision to move away from the lonely city and move to the countryside, where I would be closer to family and where I would have other avenues of support outwith my mental health team.

However, by moving out of the city I had to leave my established mental health team and of course, my psychologist.
She offered to continue to see me during the transition until I found a new therapist. But I shut down - feeling a sense of ending - it was easier to stop immediately. I needed to control or feel in control of the situation.
It just felt too hard that our relationship was ending... I realized that maybe what I was feeling was wrong or unhealthy. That maybe I had an attachment. I guess that is the intensity of the therapuetic relationship.

But the relationship seemed so important and now there is nothing.

The move was positive and a step in the right direction but in doing so I have lost a connection with someone who I was finally starting to open up to.

Andrea said...

Thats basic ... they are paid to build up a relationship with u, either by govt or private funds, u have a vested interest in them giving u a positive out come... all based on emotion... u wont have that quality time with a council worker but again u wont pay as much or expect a high outcome

Andrea said...

For him its financial if hes professional... however, for u and i dont know u, u could be projecting on to him ... and thats not fair to either.. shake hands and move on with the loss that was important to u and not him..maintain the dignity so to speak