On Mental Health


I met with the new therapist like week and I have hope she might work.

SIDENOTE: If you’ve ever searched for a therapist, you are a hero. It is such a difficult thing because you have to usually confront various demons just to MAKE THE DAMN APPOINTMENT, and then when you realize the match is not great? It’s the worst kind of disheartening.

I hate to be too optimistic, but she sure did ask a lot of the right questions in getting me to articulate what I need/want from her. She also made me make an appointment with a psychiatrist and find out of there was a thyroid panel done on my last well-visit blood work. I don’t know why those two things made me feel better but somehow the, “It takes a team,” approach really softened some of my anxieties.

As we were talking and she’s telling me the symptoms of depression I’m showing and she asks me a question I instinctively hate when evaluating mental health,

Okay. We have a scale of 1-10…

INSIDE MY HEAD: I HATE 1-10 SCALES. All of the depression/anxiety tests they give you are 1-10 or “STRONGLY DISAGREE/AGREE” scales. I hate simplifying things that need lots of words especially considering how my mental health waivers from moment to moment some days. UGGGG.

…If “1” is “Fine, I can do it fine, no big deal…”

INSIDE MY HEAD: Wait. This one seems to be going some place I wasn’t expecting

…and “10” is “It takes every thing out of me and sucks me dry” – How hard is it to get through a day?

ME OUT LOUD: “Oh, god…” (tearing up) “…10. Most definitely a 10 almost every single day.”

I mean, no one had ever asked me that before, but putting it in those words? JEEZUS. I AM SO DAMN TIRED.

So as we talked more about what “well” or “good” or “happy” might look like for me, I just kept going back to that.

“I don’t want to be so tired all the time.”

Because that’s truly what it is about many days. It’s like when I quit smoking and every second of every day I was pushing back thoughts of cigarettes, now? It’s just pushing back thoughts of giving up. Not in a “jump off a bridge” type of way (although I told her I have those days too) but in a “curl up in bed and never leave and cry forever” type of way. That’s all my brain is telling me to do almost every second of every day. Stop. Just stop. Just curl up on the couch with The Good Place and don’t think about life or parenting or marriage or politics or racism or diet or exercise or…

That is what the voices are telling me to do: STOP TRYING.

And in many ways, I felt like I had given up. I don’t run as much as I used to and I’m not eating well. But now I’m looking at that a little differently. It’s not so much I had given up on running and healthy eating, it’s really that I’m so exhausted from just taking one step forward every day and putting on a GOOD FACE that I have no energy left to think about exercise or food. Or a lot of things. All of the balls I’ve dropped lately – it’s not as much as I’m giving up on those responsibilities. It’s more that I have no energy left for anything more than getting out of bed, going to work, feeding and loving my family, and tending to my home and pets. Those are like the BARE NECESSITIES, and giving my attention and just those things without bursting into tears (which I sometimes still do anyway) zaps my will to do anything else.


She also told me it seems I have very good coping skills and that I’m high functioning I was like, “YAY! VALEDICTORIAN!” until she kept talking about how this is not a good thing. “Oh.” Evidently you trick yourself into believing you don’t need help and this is what leads to self-medicating (with food or alcohol or drugs) because you do whatever you can to keep going and…

Well. Okay. Definitely not a good thing and definitely exactly what I’m doing. I thought “High Functioning” was something to be proud of! Not so much. It really should be called “Good At Shaming Yourself and Lying To Yourself To The Detriment Of Your Mental And Physical Health.”

Anyway. So I’m tired and I’m tricking myself and so we’re going to meet again and I contacted one of the Psychiatrists she recommended (No openings until February) and I’m going to call my doc about my thyroid and this week I’m recognizing the negative side effects of High Functioning and I’ve only had one hard seltzer every night (instead of 3 beers) and I’m eating from a vegan meal delivery place so and I’m continuing to force myself to take time to do things I like like hand-lettering and reading and I’m trying not to consider it a moral obligation to stay up to date on every political outrage. I’m keeping with my podcasts: The Daily and Pod Save America and only sometimes listening to some of the other political podcast.

I’m also trying to work on thinking about OTHERS less. I don’t mean like my family. I mean that in the back of my mind I’m often thinking about how much OTHER people do with less drama. And how OTHER people deal with life. And how OTHER people think about my struggles. And about how OTHER people think about me and my failures. I’m trying to stop those voices and turn them inward redistribute that energy to myself and loving myself. I mean, if my brain is going to think things like That family member hates me because I’m such a mess… then I’m using valuable limited resources that I could be turning into self love instead.

But it’s just so damn exhausting.

12 thoughts on “10.”

  1. I understand what she means about being high functioning, but I think you still get points for pushing through and functioning. But mostly I’m super glad that you have a new plan for help!

  2. I’m sorry you’re so exhausted. You deserve peace and happiness and I hope your new therapist helps you get there– seems like you’ve been doing this grown-up thing for forever. You’re a rockstar, hang in there !

  3. I’m glad your visit with your new therapist went well! I hope she can help you feel better! I think you are awesome no matter what! It takes a lot to push through when you are feeling like you describe.

  4. Wow. Seriously, thank you so much for writing this. Good coping/high functioning is definitely also me and it never really occurred to me that it’s bad. I hope this new therapist works out and you feel better soon!! <3

  5. I knon wit takes a lot to share these things, but please know when you do I feel a small spark of hope alight in my own tired heart.

  6. Thank you for sharing this stuff. I am in such a similar place right now. As you asked me once, “Is it awful it makes me feel better to hear your story and know I’m not alone…” I’m SO pleased you have found a therapist you think will work, and I’m even more thrilled you have made an appointment with the psychiatrist.

    I guess now I have to love me as much as I care for you…feels so happy and relieved that YOU have made these steps…I have to love ME enough to do the same.

    Thanks for sharing with us. I hope you know in your heart how much it helps those of us who follow you!

  7. Amen Sister!!!!! AMEN!!! preach it!!
    You just articulated (and were brave enough to share) what SO many of us feel.
    And the “others” thing. So real. So true. I have been on a mission to note when I compare myself to others. They say awareness is the first step and then you are just to supposed to “release” that negative thought. That is my downfall. Being aware just makes me then feel so damn bad about that fact that I can’t stop comparing myself to others!! About two weeks ago though I read something about trying not to subtract things from your life but rather add things (more food related like “you’ll eat fewer donuts if you’re eating more broccoli”. ). It made me think about mindfulness which I am also trying to be better at. Suddenly it occurred to me (I am a little slow I admit….) that if I am just simply spending more time thinking about what I am doing it will leave less space in my head for negative thinking. It’s kind of weird but I’ve noticed it working a bit so I thought I would share. So rather than unloading the dishwasher and thinking about God Knows What I am talking to myself in my head “I’m taking out the silverware. I’m putting the spoons in their slot”. This of course leads to “This was my Grandma’s. She would be so disappointed if she saw how I’m taking care of it” (or some other negative/comparing thought). I then just really try to go back to the narrative self -talk about what i am doing. I am sort of surprised but I feel a bit calmer lately. When I think about it my anxieties and fears they are often based on future or past thinking and if I can keep my thinking based on the present there is less room for the crazies.
    Sending you best wishes and know that you are not alone.

  8. Something struck me as I was reading this post. What you are describing is very similar to what my friends with MS or lupus or rheumatoid arthritis deal with. Because, like them, you have a chronic illness that can have acute phases.

    And you know what? Nobody blames them when they have a flare-up. Everyone rallies around and takes up slack at work or in volunteer organizations. Their spouses step up and take over extra kid duties and household tasks so they can concentrate on getting better. Everyone understands that the flare-up is not the individual’s fault, and that nobody wants to get better more than the individual does.

    And THAT is how we should be looking at mental illness. So I’m sorry, dear Kim, that you are dealing with a flare-up. I’m so glad you are putting together a health care team is to find ways to help you feel better and hopefully even make all your symptoms disappear.

  9. So sorry you’re feeling so tired and sad. I don’t know if your doctor has already checked for low iron, but one of the symptoms of anemia is also tiredness. So that’s something else to keep in mind. I hope your “team” can provide relief soon!!! Sending good thoughts to you.

  10. I hope this new person can help you get your 10 down a lot lower, and get things not as hard for you.

    On the thing about thinking of others less, I find it helpful to remind myself of something I once read in a book, not to compare my insides to others’ outsides.

  11. I would also ask the Dr if they ran a B 12 test when they did bloodworm. We go to the same practice, different doctors and they have to order the B 12 separately I think. At least they used to. vitaminD should have been in the routine. I know about being so exhausted you can’t think. I am not sure which comes first. But it is Hell.But it gets better. This counselor sounds great. You may not (won’t) like everything they say or ask. Stick with it as long as necessary.

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