A Discussion About Mental Illness

I suffer from mental illness. Also known as mental injuries. Those injuries are depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. It makes me different from other people. It sets me apart in that life seems just more difficult than it would otherwise without those illnesses. Every person is unique. We all have “mental health” but not everyone has a mental illness. It’s different. It’s unique. It’s not exactly desirable.
What do I think of this? I’m sure a lot of people have mental health “issues” but staying in bed for 48 hours straight on the weekend feels somewhat debilitating. That is just one way my illness manifests itself. I have a lot of respect for people who work in the mental health field, such as my therapist and my psychiatrist. It takes a lot of compassion to work with people who have mental injuries that are chronic.
Then there are the crying spells. I do have times where I just need to cry to release the sadness. It’s a release of negative energy which has built up over time. But then again, I’m not the only person who can cry after watching a sad movie, right? I recently watched the movie “I am Sam” and cried twice throughout the movie. There were some very sad parts, and the sadness spills into my personal life and my emotions that I have just about daily living.


Sometimes living is hard. Sometimes I would rather be dead. But I know there are a lot of people who know me who would rather see me live my life, preferably a productive (meaning, happy) life, and I try to live up to those expectations. It takes a lot of patience, which I don’t always have. When life is going well I dream a lot of things about my future, such as buying a condo one day or going back to school.
Living takes a lot of grit. No one ever said life would be easy, and it really isn’t! It’s hard. We get tired, overworked, exhausted emotionally and physically, and then we have to recover. But living with a mental illness takes just a little bit more effort than it would for the average person to get through each and every day.


Being suicidal takes an enormous amont of effort and energy. With suicidality comes a lot of anxiety, anxious feelings that are intrusive and interfere with whatever else is going on at the moment. When I am suicidal I can’t work, I just sit at my desk making plans for ending my life and finding comfort in the fact that my life could end soon, that the emotional pain would soon go away. Suicide is not selfish, it’s an act of desperation to end emotional pain. If you ever come across a suicidal person, just listen and be there. No special words are needed, except your presence and for them to feel like they are not alone. Luckily I haven’t been suicidal for a number of months now. I am just living my life day to day doing the best that I can.

Just Another Day

I’m sitting upright on my bed with my back supported by a pillow as I type this. Piano music is playing from my phone. Ah, the wonders of modern technology where things like surreptitious music are but a finger swipe away. Some kind of Nocturne is playing and I’m wondering if it’s Chopin. It’s a familiar melody as I’ve listened to this Pandora Radio station many-a-time. My bedroom isn’t my only sanctuary. My home and private space extends into the kitchen which looks out onto the dining nook, filled by an upright piano, and the spacious living room of which a $3,500 couch takes up a copious amount of space because it boasts a queen pull-out bed. Behind the light moss green couch, a colour which I specifically selected, are a couple of dark bookshelves packed with books and my cast iron teapot set which I use once a year for fun. I would never again spend such money on a couch, of all things, but at the time, I was not worried about money. These days, worries of money pass in and out of my consciousness like an ever-present cloud of rain.


This is the life I have made for myself, chosen for myself, won for myself. This is not the life I had on the other side of the state, where I was far from family in a place I had forced myself to call home for over fifteen years, working several underpaid jobs, stressed out by the workload, underappreciated and torn by the remnants of post-traumatic stress disorder and severe clinical depression. I would say that I still suffer at times, but much less so. Torments of the past and extreme states of emotional distress have left my life almost completely. My depression takes the form of entire weekends spent in bed, whilst still managing to feed and walk my dog, a necessity of the life of being a dog mom. When I adopted him five years ago I committed myself to the responsibility of taking care of him. Though he is aging, he is still a spry 11-year-old chihuahua mix and at 10 pounds if he doesn’t listen to me, which is often the case due to poor training and a diminished sense of hearing, I can pick him up and bring him to me. Last night he had his monthly bath. He hates baths but oh, I am such a proud dog mom to say the least, as he is finally clean again! What a wondrous sight and smell. He was beginning to smell a bit like wet dog smells when he wasn’t even wet. I can’t manage to bring myself to bathe him more than once a month due to my depression. If I were a good dog mom I would bathe him at least twice a month due to his consistent allergies. Now he has arthritis to add to the mix, for which he will have to take special medication, hidden in between a “pill pop” flavoured like chicken that I got at the vet’s office today. Dogs are expensive and any pet owner can relate. Vet visits add up quickly. He’ll have to have a chest x-ray due to his heart murmur before we can decide whether his little body could tolerate the anesthesia required to get his teeth cleaned, for he has also been diagnosed with mild periodontal disease. 


Friends of a distant past have moved from my former home to Bali, Indonesia, where the wife of my photographer friend awaits giving birth to their first child. This friend sent me a photo and a video of her engorged, naked breasts. They were very tastefully and artfully depicted in the images. While this may not be a “normal” sort of thing for friends to exchange, I once posed nude for this photographer. We created a collage of artful and very explicit nudes of my then 115 pounds of flesh. I weigh much more than that now and would never get in front of a camera like that again. But in those days I was not afraid of nudity, nor was I a stranger to sexual escapades while I was being taunted by a narcissist who sexually exploited me to a degree which to some, would be unfathomable. I am happy for this couple, my friends of a still-distant past. It’s strange that I’ve remained in touch with them in spite of leaving everything else from that time period behind.


I’ve often dreamed of a different life for myself. Not the life of the 25-year-old new bride who dreamed of being a mom with two children behind a white picket fence. But a life which includes the trauma, now healed, and of being of service to others. I tried one semester of graduate school only to discover to my dismay that it was not good timing. When will it ever be the right time to go to school to become a psychotherapist? Perhaps never, perhaps, one day, when I am fully healed and suicide attempts are a thing of my distant past.


My last suicide attempt was in January of this year. I was so sure, absolutely certain, that killing myself was the right idea. I had come up with a brilliant strategy to complete my impending death sentence, one that I had never thought of before, only to chicken out at the very last millisecond. I ended up hospitalized for the requisite 72 hours, which were torturous because of the way hospital staff treated me, or should I say, county mental health staff. County mental health is notorious for being bad. After I got out my brother took care of me for two days and those days were lovely. It felt nice to be cared for, before I had to submit myself back to the daily grind, sometimes excruciating grind, of being at work five days a week and “pretending” to be okay.


The piano music is still playing and my dryer from a load of laundry is humming in the background. My hair is so long and voluptuous that after a shower, the weight of my wet hair is not well-held-up by one single hair band. I am wearing a baseball hat, so-to-speak, to keep my hair up and off of my back. My hair stretches all the way down to my waist and I normally wear it in a braid to my side, with my hair parted in the middle. That is my “look” every day of the week at work. They rarely see my hair flowing freely at the office.


I had my obligatory weekly shower. I don’t know why, but showering for me is difficult. Survivors of sexual assault and chronic sexual abuse often find showering difficult and unpleasant. Once I’m in the shower, I’m fine, but it’s the “idea” of the shower which assaults my placid mind which makes me want to vomit. Something about being naked, in the nude, in the buff, whatever you want to call it, something about that gets to me and it’s not something I can take for granted as many people do.


Well, this is a window to my world. My therapist, who has stuck by me for over a decade of weekly sessions, five years of which were pro bono and unpaid, has been on vacation for a week. I will finally get to see him again this weekend. I’ve been doing so well that we will often skip weeks at a time, or at least see each other every other week instead of weekly. There was a time in my life back in 2012 whence I was so incredibly suicidal and unable to work, that I would see him three times a week just to keep myself alive and from killing myself. Because inevitably, as all my attempts at my life have been, another attempt would be unsuccessful and land me in the hospital for a number of weeks. I had so many hospital visits and bills that I filed for bankruptcy in 2015. Seven years have almost passed by since then and the bankruptcy will finally exit its doleful place on my credit score report. Maybe one day I’ll actually be able to buy a home: a nice little two-bedroom condominium where my mom can stay in her elderly years. That’s my dream. She took care of me for most of my life, still does to a degree, and I owe it to her to give back to her what she gave to me: self-sacrifice.


It’s almost bedtime now. I walked on the treadmill for an hour this evening. I manage to do that once every few weeks at best, given that one out of the hundred residents of my complex could be using the gym at any given moment as well, and often the treadmill is taken. Because of Covid, only one person at a time is allowed to use the tiny gym anyway. So it’s time to say goodbye. The effects of the red wine are wearing off and I occupied my mind whilst cooking dinner tonight by listening to Michelle Obama’s “Becoming.” It’s a book which causes me to reflect on my life as it stands today, and on my past. I am really enjoying the listening. I finally got a library card because buying audio books and Kindle books was becoming an expensive habit.


I am in rare form tonight. I actually have energy. Not the sort of boundless energy one could attribute to a 20-something-year-old, but energy enough to sustain me, rather than having to feel the need to go to bed hours before my necessary bedtime. My brother inadvertently mocked me for going to bed at 7 PM one night, asking if I was a baby. I quickly changed the subject but I was hurt and I know he will be able to hear my complaint one of these days, to repair that minor damage to our relationship. Does he not know that I spend entire weekends in bed doing nothing but sleeping?


I just got up to use the restroom as my bladder wasn’t having this typing anymore, and I was delighted to use my bidet. This is a bidet installation to a regular toilet that my brother so lovingly and painstakingly installed when I moved into this apartment almost a year ago. If and when I ever move, I’ll have to get him to uninstall the bidet, as I am not adept at such very specific manual tasks which require a lego-like minded assembly motif to the instructions that come with the gadget. Mind you, my Mum did buy me pink legos when I was young, and I enjoyed assembling those buildings, as per the instructions. But those days are long since over and my patience wanes.


“Pure Imagination,” which played in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, is playing right now in the form of a piano composition. The melody is familiar although I haven’t watched that movie since childhood. I’ll get my obligatory eight hours of sleep tonight, though sometimes it wickles down to seven hours, in order to be able to function tomorrow. I can’t imagine functioning on less than seven hours of sleep though some people do it regularly. I don’t know how. Tomorrow I’ll send emails to clients, and be the detail-oriented me I know how to be. I’ll service the clients of our financial firm that were assigned to me, and I’ll prepare for upcoming meetings. I won’t call in sick, though I think about it almost every morning when faced with the prospect of having to go to work, particularly on Mondays. I’ll do my once-a-week grocery shopping trip to Trader Joes, get frozen meals for lunch at work and try to buy some fruit and vegetables since those are supposedly good for the constitution. And then I’ll have another mostly peaceful evening, perhaps punctuated by another glass of red wine, although I’ve been trying to curb my drinking habit as of late. But a bottle of red is open, so why not finish it off? And so the cycle continues. And so life continues, my life, specifically. I’m not dead yet and I am aware that death inevitably comes to us all one day. But for now, I am alive, and I’ll keep living until there is no more life to be lived.

A Decade of Healing

So, it’s the new year. Another one. I’ve survived how many new years since I escaped my abusive situation? I guess it’s been nine years now. Nine years, going on a decade. And what do I think of it? Well, meh. But it’s also quite a feat. The fact that I’m still alive and haven’t killed myself? Kind of miraculous. Except nowadays I don’t really have this urgent need to kill myself. It comes and it goes but I am able to weather the storm.


I don’t know if I’m partial to writing as much any longer about how I feel and about my situation. In the earlier years of my recovery I had the need to write and write and write. But now, not so much. And that’s okay. I get away with writing occasionally.


I had a scare last night. Trauma memories came crashing in and I thought I was losing my shit. It hurt so bad. I just cried a ton until I couldn’t cry anymore, and then I slept. Sleep is renewing. It’s where the body and mind heals themselves. Imagine if you couldn’t sleep. What kind of a life would that be? Well, I know someone who has bad insomnia and let’s just say, he’s really not doing well.


I wish the bad guys in the world, the abusers, the murderers, the bludgeoners of bad will, I wish they would all just stop with the crap so that the good people in the world could go on living their lives. And whilst we have a justice system, that justice isn’t always served, as in my case. Mine is a cold case in the justice system and likely won’t be renewed. I didn’t have any proof of what had happened to me, so no legal justice could be served. How sad is that? Years of rape and abuse just amounts to nothing.


And yet I persist. I exist. I continue to live and to thrive. Occasionally I have setbacks, but then I get back on my feet and do it all over again, each and every day. I live. I manage to live, somehow.

A Piece of Writing

What makes music so beautiful? What makes it so perfect? What makes it so special? Why is it that I am crying at the mere thought of creating such beauty when I know I don’t have the skill, but to listen. What is it about music which produces tears?


Watching the Soloist this evening, on my phone, since I don’t own a television, brought some humanity to my otherwise mundane days. I’ve felt lately that I have no purpose in life. Yes, I am my dog’s mom. I am a good friend to a few people. I am a sister and a daughter and a patient to a very special therapist. But there are days I wish that my life would just end.


I don’t have the skill when it comes to creating great melodies but I do have words and with my words I sing until I feel better, until I have created a picture of something that I could imagine swallowing whole, like swallowing a pill to make things seem better if only for a few moments.


Somewhere in life there has to be a purpose for me still being here. My mother has counted the number of times I’ve tried to take my life. Maybe it helps her. I’ve lost count and I dream of the end of my pain all the time. I just want my pain to end. When I looked up the year The Soloist was released, in 2009, it brought me back to my painful years of being abused. The feeling never quite leaves you, when you’ve experienced that much pain in your life. The feeling of being raped, of having every aspect of your life controlled and not having a say, it never quite leaves you. I want to keep practising saying “no” because my “no” was disregarded so many times. It just wasn’t a thing.


I feel like I have a wet beard because my tears have traveled down the length of my face and have stopped at the hairs of my chinny chin chin. And just like that, with the swipe of a long-armed sleeve, they are gone. My piano has been vacant for over two months, not being played, no sounds being produced. All I can do is sleep on the weekends. I don’t make a sound. I don’t disturb anyone but myself and the waves I make with followers on my Twitter account. It’s as if I don’t exist and I really don’t care to exist.


Pain makes tears seem easy. Some people who have experienced pain cannot bring themselves to cry, and they’ve envied my tears. It’s true! Tears are a way of releasing emotions that have built up, festering, for some time. They come and they go, just as emotions do. The pain comes, and then the pain goes, and somehow, I get to live in the present with the past in the past, once again, where it belongs.

A Letter to my Therapist

To My Therapist,

I don’t understand why I keep looking to the past. Why I can’t just stay in the present. It’s like I’m trying to look for some kind of proof. Something that proved something. Only, I don’t know what that is. Why did I go back through my emails and download old modeling photos of myself? Why did I look at those photos from 2008 and the years surrounding it? What was I looking for? What do I want to prove? Who do I want to prove it to? Why why why why why.


I wrote a blog today. That prompted me to look at past blogs. I skimmed them. I don’t know if it does me any good to read what I’ve already written. Gotten my thoughts and feelings out once. Why read those words again and potentially dredge up old feelings again? Why can’t I leave it alone. Do you know I was abused? Raped? Sold for sex? Of course you do. You’ve been listening to me talk for over ten years. But I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it. The one thing I do know and believe is that you will never leave me. One day you may retire but you will still be there. One day you may no longer be on earth but everything you have taught me will be a part of me still then. Feelings come and go and I remain. That’s the most important thing I have learned from you. I want you to tell me that phrase over and over again. I won’t get mad at you. It won’t get old. Tell me, please. Tell me that my feelings will come and then they will go. Tell me that I will still remain in existence.


I didn’t kill myself. “Not yet.” At least, I haven’t killed myself yet. But the funny thing is, and there is nothing funny about it, that I don’t want to kill myself anymore. Not right now. I don’t want to kill myself. I don’t want to die.
Tonight I ate a lot of cheese and carbs. I had Trader Joe’s gorgonzola gnocchi microwaved from frozen. I ate the whole packet. Then I had a slice of cheesecake, which I defrosted from the freezer by leaving it out on the counter for a while. It was pretty good! I enjoy food. Eating food is a part of living. I am alive. I do what living people do. I eat and poop and go to work and sleep and get up the next day and do it again. I do what living people do, which means that I must be alive and living. I never thought I would make it this far. I never thought that I would, in 2021, still be alive. The grand master plan was to be dead long ago. But that didn’t happen.


Thank you for listening to me. Thank you for being my one person audience. Thank you for always reading the words that I write and for never giving up on me. Thank you for allowing me to reschedule our next appointment although I would have much rather kept the appointment, but I am prioritizing seeing my brother over seeing you. Living people also have priorities. I make priorities. I decide what gets to happen in my life. My life, my choice. I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do. I don’t have to have sex with anyone if I don’t want to. I get to decide now. I get to make those decisions. I get to see you, or not. I get to be me. I get to keep on living.


Talk to you soon.

My Life: a Story

As my fingers grace the soft, delicate keys of my keyboard, my eyes become fixated on the black lettering appearing on my screen and I go into a sort of trance. I have been writing for years, and the assuaging cadence of the words never fail to lull me into this deep place of comfort. I feel comforted at being able to put my thoughts and feelings into words, even if it’s just a long drawn-out description of how much I enjoy the sensation of writing. For it is writing that keeps me alive. Every time I connect with my therapist via email, whether short and cryptic or long and sensuously, unnecessarily wordy… it all seems necessary to me at the time. I need to connect with him. I need to connect with you. I need to connect with my reader.

The tears have dried up and my breathing has become regulated again. The snotty sniffling of the after-cry shock has subsided and I’m back to my “normal” self. But then again, what is normal, where I often feel depressed and all I want to do is to sleep? I can’t bear to pick up a figurative pen and let the words flow out of me. There are times whence I am stunted and just dead-to-the-world and I can’t write. Luckily today is not one of those days.

I got triggered. You see, I used to model. I used to model for photographers and I was skinny and very unhappy. The modeling brought me a sense of something that I could control, in the midst of a time when I was being abused and my life was very much not in my own control. I was miserable and trying to not let anyone know that fact. Now, it has been over a decade that I’ve been in recovery. I’m no longer skinny nor do I want to be. And I read an article about a model whose risqué images had been published by a photographer in a book without her consent for his profit and gain. Why “his”? Well, it had to be a man. I don’t think a female photographer would have done such a thing. Prove me wrong please!

When I think of my modeling days, I think of the sexual abuse I endured at the time. Being sold for sex and raped by countless men. I was drugged with alcohol and was told to comply. Well, it’s not like I was given a choice. Being raped was my normal. Being sold, and my body used as a commodity, that was what was normal for me. I had become accustomed slowly by my abuser to that sort of life. During the thick of it, I simply didn’t know any different. I didn’t have any friends I could talk to about my feelings.

My abuser was staunchly against me seeing a therapist but that was one thing he couldn’t keep me from. You see, I knew something was wrong with my life, but I didn’t know what that was. I wanted to be the “perfect wife” for my abuser, and I thought a perfect wife did everything her so-called husband told her to do. She was obedient. When I did what I was told to do I received what I thought was endless praise. What I now know to be a mockery of my very being.

For the first couple years of therapy, I didn’t talk about the sexual abuse that was happening in my relationship and outside of it. Everything was intertwined. I don’t even know anymore. But I talked about other things, until finally, here and there, I began mentioning that there were things that I didn’t like, or things that seemed off. Up until then, I hadn’t had a voice. I was not allowed to have an opinion. I didn’t know who I was. I had no sense of self. But slowly, over time, week after week for an hour at a time, I began to have a voice for the first time in my life during those therapy sessions.

Looking at the self-aware person I am now, I don’t know who that bold, sexy, seemingly sex-addicted abused young woman was. Admittedly I did look somewhat sexy in those modeling photos. But I also looked emaciated, with hollow, empty eyes peering forth at a relentless truth that was staring me in the face, only I didn’t see it at the time. I had to get out. I had to get out of the relationship because it was killing me. Either I was going to die or I was going to kill myself.

I thank my lucky starts that the inevitable happened: after years of being sexually abused I became so severely depressed that I couldn’t hold a job. With our two incomes my abuser had planned on buying a second home to house his girlfriend (while he was still technically married to me). He couldn’t do that when I announced one day that I had quit my well-paid corporate career job. Of course he was pissed! It took him two more years to divorce me. Or should I say, it took two more years of me going to sometimes twice weekly therapy before I could leave him. Either way you slice it, the apple is cut, and we separated.

Years of recovery ensued. He was a narcissist. Nothing he had done was wrong and he quickly moved on with his life and got remarried, even had a kid. I feel sorry for that kid and worry about the potential of her being abused. But that is not my responsibility. My therapist tells me it is the parents’ responsibility to keep their child safe. So unfortunate is this world where children get abused, even sexually, by the ones who are indebted with their safety.

The type of life I have now is unimaginable. Ten years ago I could never have imagined the sort of life I have now. I have room to breathe. I have an income. I pay my bills. I am in charge of my life. No one else tells me what to do. I no longer starve myself. I no longer cut on my arms with knives and scissors to punish myself and to make myself bleed. I no longer wish to kill myself. I’m not in and out of psych wards. I live in a suburb in a one bedroom apartment by myself. It’s just me and my dog, Samuel. He is my ESA – Emotional Support Animal. In fact, if I didn’t have a note from my psychiatric doctor stating such, I wouldn’t be allowed to live here with Samuel. He keeps me alive. He keeps me going. He gives me a reason to get up each day and go to work.

Working 40 hours a week isn’t easy for a formerly and somewhat still currently depressed person. There are often mornings I wake up and I don’t want to be awake. I’d much rather sleep the day away and not be conscious, because when you are conscious, you think, and thoughts can go awry if you think of the unpleasant, and in my case, traumatic, past. To top it off, I’ve had Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. I don’t know if that diagnosis would currently apply, but certainly my unstable behaviour of the past was indicative of a traumatised person.

And this all brings us back to the act of writing. If I couldn’t write, I don’t know what I would do. I need, in a visceral way, to connect to other people. I’m writing as if I’m writing to one specific reader, and I hope this touches each individual person who has taken the time to read the words I have written. Thank you.

A Debate About My Future

What determines my worth? Who determines whether I will make a good therapist or not? Because I’ve been through trauma, will that hinder my ability to be partial when providing care for a patient? I honestly don’t know the answers to these questions. Going back to school to study counseling is a major undertaking and not for the faint of heart. It has been a dream of mine to become a therapist for many years. My brother asked me the hard questions. This is what brothers are for. If I don’t have energy to study because of depression, and I am only just barely passing my classes, is that what I want to be for a therapist? A just-good-enough therapist? No, I want to be the best therapist that I can be. But I have limitations. I spend entire weekends just coddled up in bed. I don’t do anything. I just wait for the time to pass. I don’t spend my time studying. Of course, I’m not in school yet, but when I am? Do I want to be a just good enough therapist? Is that all I am destined to achieve?

I’m looking for a new job right now. A new job that will pay the bills, since my current job does not pay the bills and I am left scrambling to use my savings. It’s disheartening to say the least. And my lovely brother, the truth sayer in all of this, tells me that if I leave a new job after a year to pursue school, that I’ll be burning bridges. It’s very possible. That I would be burning a bridge if my new employer invests training into me and then sees me leave after a year.

I don’t know what my future is going to look like. I have anxiety just thinking about it. I mean, come on. If I can’t even bring myself to shower more than once or twice a week, due to depression, do you really think I am capable of showing up for a client, week after week, helping them to not end their life? I mean, you’d think I’d be capable of at least that. But of course I don’t want to be “just good enough.” I want to be the best that I can be. Help! Training is expensive. It doesn’t stop at grad school. There are so many hurdles to overcome. I need someone rich to adopt me so that my struggles for money don’t have to be so pervasive. I have friends whose education has been paid for them. They are the lucky ones, whereas I’ll be going into tremendous amounts of debt. But I have to take my situation into perspective. I can’t wish for something that I can’t have. That which I can’t have is financial security. How do people make ends meet? It’s a mystery to me.

There are days I just want to stay in bed and just not show up to life. I feel as if I could spend a year sleeping, just sleeping for 365 days straight and doing nothing else and that still wouldn’t solve my problems. My problem is that my past trauma prevents me from enjoying my life. There are days I just want to be, yes, I’ll say it, dead. There are days I don’t want to exist. There are hard days. There are not-so-hard days. I really, honestly, don’t know what to do with my life right now. I’ve been going through a series of job interviews, week after week, but is that really the answer? Should I just keep my current dead-end job for now because it has good health insurance, keep using my savings, and apply to grad school? I don’t know what the future holds. I know what I want and all I can do right now is to fight for that which I want.

My Life Status and the School Debate

Life is really good right now. I’m not sleeping away my weekends. Having a job has gotten easier, after having been unemployed for six months last year. I’m not suicidal and when those thoughts come up I am able to tolerate them and know that they eventually will go away. I know I haven’t done as much writing in this blog at all really, but I have been writing poetry and for me, poetry is Life.

I’m really torn at whether or not to go back to school in the Fall of 2022. Which would mean I would be applying this Fall, a year ahead of time. My aunt and my mom and several other people who are important to me do not think that going back to school would be a good idea. The main reason being, the topic and subject material. I want to go into clinical counseling and then become a therapist. I would be going for the track of Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, or LPCC. It’s something I’ve had my heart on for a very long time. But the main reason I want to become a therapist? It’s because I love my therapist. I love my therapist of 12 years. It’s possibly been 13 years that I’ve been working with him now. I love him so much. He’s been like a father figure to me. The father figure I never had. The friend I never had. The person who sticks by my side and never leaves me. And I want to be just like him.

My aunt, whom I love very much, says I am not my therapist. I am my own person. I would have to go back to school for the right reasons. Not because I want to be like my therapist but because… well, for my own reasons. I can’t think of any just that I want to help people. There is a lot to be said for that reason alone. Helping people is a passion of mine and I want to do it professionally. My aunt says that I don’t know what a healthy relationship between a couple looks like. Well, that’s true. I had a shitty run of a six year marriage which turned out to be an abusive relationship. I haven’t been in a relationship since and it’s been, how long? Nine years. Next year will have been the decade mark since I left my abuser. He’s in another relationship now, married again, and this time with a child. I shudder to think of the abuse that might be occurring. But it’s not my problem anymore. I got away, alive, with my life and I’ve managed, after all of the psychological trauma I endured, to not die from suicide attempts. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve attempted suicide. I just have managed to not die from the attempts. No need for any details there.

So the dilemma. What are the reasons I want to go back to school to become a professional helper, a therapist? Well, I have this burning desire to do something meaningful with my life. I hate my current job, absolutely hate it. I’m an administrative assistant at a company, so I do administrative work, and it is not fulfilling whatsoever, and it pays shit too. I don’t get paid much, barely enough to cover my bills. Oh, another consideration of going back to school would be the debt I would incur. It would be about $80,000. Kind of like having a mortgage, it’s a commitment. I don’t think having school debt is such a bad thing and I’m not worried about it. What I worry about, what my family worries about, is the emotional toll the subject material would take on me. A lot of the psychology material can be triggering for me, given my past history of trauma. I don’t know. I’m in a conundrum. I will have to sit with this discomfort of the not knowing what to do, and ponder. Really think hard about what I want to do with my life.

Here’s the other thing. I want to have a child. I may not end up having a child but I would like to have one. I would be starting school at the age of 38 and not finishing until I am 40 or 41. That’s pretty late in life to think about having a child. So that’s another consideration I really have to think about. I have a bit of time left in my child-bearing years and technology and IVF can help along the way. I just don’t know, don’t know what to do right now and will have to give everything some more thought. Talk to people. Get more opinions.

Jobless Musings of a Mental Health Warrior

What am I going to do? I don’t have a job. I do have an apartment that I’m still able to afford renting for now, so I have a home. I have plenty of frustrations in my life. Every other week I feel suicidal enough to text with the suicide hotline for support. I have two therapists and a psychiatrist. They do what they can with me. I’m not a lost and hopeless cause but my past trauma is complex and difficult to deal with on a daily basis. I remember things that make me feel sad. I remember things that make me feel angry and ashamed. I remember things that make me feel confused. None of it is pleasant.

I don’t even know really how to express myself right now. It’s hard to type because I need to cut my fingernails. My hair is wet because I showered for the first time in a week or so. I have plenty of things to complain about, if you just give me a chance I can list them all. The funniest thing to me was when I told my EMDR therapist that “I’m fat.” She said right back to me without hesitation, “I’m fatter.” That solved that problem. I didn’t have anything more to complain about on that front. I just laughed and couldn’t stop smiling about that response. It’s good to have experiences where you can smile in therapy. It’s therapeutic to be able to smile, even if it’s only for a short while.

I have to take a shit. I have a friend whose nine year old child refuses to take a shit unless he can shower afterwards. So he won’t go to the bathroom at any public place and gets in a bad mood if he has to poo. So I guess my problems aren’t that bad after all if I can shit anywhere I please. Shitting having been taken care of since, I can now focus on other things. Like how discouraging and disappointing and how almost hopeless it is, applying to jobs in the Covid-19 era of life. So many people, thousands of people are unemployed right now, and many people are looking for a job to pay their bills, just like I am. I’m lucky that I have some savings to get me by. Not everyone is that lucky. I guess that makes me really really lucky.

I finally convinced a friend to try going to therapy. I’m taking her tonight and I am paying for the first session. I insisted. I’ve been wanting her to go to therapy for years and finally things are so bad in her life that she’s willing to give it a shot. Therapy has done amazing wonders for me in my life so I definitely recommend it, but you have to make sure you find the right therapist. You’ll just know if it’s the right therapist for you. I had to go through seeing several therapists before I found the right one. And I’ve been seeing him for the past 12 years. Imagine that, over a decade and a third of my life. Like I said earlier, I guess I’m lucky. I made it out of an abusive relationship. Not all women are able to make it out alive.

Healing and What Depression Feels Like

I am eating oats, the old-fashioned kind that you have to cook on the stovetop for 30 minutes, not the kind you cook for 5 minutes or just put hot water in. I have coffee off to the side sweetened with maple syrup. My friend taught me to do that. Not the sugary syrup coloured to look like maple syrup but actual maple syrup. I like real food and real ingredients when possible. Fresh produce, not canned. All of this is slightly comforting because I’ve had not comforting thoughts in my mind lately. So external comfort is welcome. Plus I’m living. I’m actually living in this moment. I’m doing what living people do, that is, eating food and drinking a beverage and just, being awake.

In the last week, I haven’t wanted to be awake. I haven’t been awake much. A majority of the past one week I’ve spent sleeping in bed and feeling very, very depressed. Today, after walking my dog at 7 am, I decided to be like most “normal” people and not go back to sleep. I decided to live for a bit, instead of hiding out in my bunker, aka my bed. When I’m in bed, alone or with my dog, nothing bad can happen to me. Except for the memories. The trauma memories are horrific and terrifying. I hate it when they appear. When I sleep too much I tend to have strange, bad dreams, but I would much rather take those over reality. My reality. My reality is peppered with memories of sexual abuse from over a decade ago. I really just can’t stand it anymore. I cannot live with myself when those memories resurface, and somehow get triggered.

In January this year, I just remember screaming. I was driving home from the office of a new therapist I had been seeing for five months, to try out a different type of therapy than what I was used to, and it was night time. I started driving home, twenty minutes is what it took, and I just started screaming at the top of my lungs in terror because of the faulty therapy session which had pushed me to the brink. I don’t remember how I got home safely and I didn’t even think to pull over and stop driving for my safety because in those moments I was back in 2008 in my mind and being sexually abused. It was happening in my mind but not in reality, and I was terrified. Back then I was not cognizant of the abuse that was happening to me, and I just let it happen. It seemed like I didn’t have a choice. I disassociated while it was happening so that in my mind I was detached and somewhere else. But having a flashback over a decade later sent me spinning into oblivion. And that is, I was having a mental emergency.

Earlier this year when this flashback was induced and I experienced more terror than I had in a long time, I became immediately and acutely suicidal. I checked myself into a crisis house instead of going straight to the hospital. I’m not sure what is worse, a crisis house or a hospital, but I know that a crisis house is less acute. I had never been to one before. I still owe them money and haven’t settled the bill from now half a year ago. I’m sure it’s been sent to collections… the story of my life.

Now a week later, the fog of my recent depressive episode has finally somewhat lifted. You have to know, it’s really difficult, living with depression and feeling majorly depressed. It feels like you’re weighed down by a ton of bricks that you’re not carrying, but that essentially own you and you can’t get rid of. And even though you may have a regular heartbeat and a normal breathing pattern, at the same time it feels like you can’t breathe. You sleep all the time because you’re afraid of what may come into your mind if you’re awake. Nightmares are preferable to the reality that’s in your waking mind because when awake you are filled with the terror of memories of past abuse that feel like those events just happened and that a decade hasn’t actually gone by, that they happened yesterday. You’re filled completely and overwhelmed with feelings of guilt and shame and horror and absolute disgust with yourself that you could have let those things happen to you. So in this depression, you don’t want to be dead. You just don’t want to be alive. So when I say that I am “doing things that living people do” right now, like drinking coffee and eating oatmeal, well, that’s a monumental step towards my healing.

Thank you for listening. I don’t ever want someone to try to solve my problems for me. All I ever want is an empathetic ear to listen to what I have to say, someone to hold space for me while I go through this long and ancient process of healing, someone like my therapist who has never left me, never once emotionally abandoned me in the 12 years we have worked together. For this, I am grateful.