April 19, 2017

Star Wars: A New Metric for my Depression??

What you need to know about me to understand this post is that I am obsessed with Star Wars.  I'm wearing a shirt that says "Star Wars" in two languages and a BB-8 bracelet.  There are two Star Wars posters above my computer screen and countless action figures and books all around me.

I know it may seem frivolous (obsessions with sports teams seem similarly frivolous to me but I don't judge), but I love Star Wars.  It's my happy place.  It always makes me happy.  Or at least I thought it did...

The day the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out two and a half years ago, I must have watched it at least thirty times.  I grinned ear to ear the whole time.  I couldn't have been more happy, and I spent the next 392 days in blissful anticipation.  Of course I had hard times, but none of them were so bad that Star Wars didn't make me smile.

Last Friday the trailer for the newest Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi, premiered.  I watched the live-streamed convention panel where the stars and director talked about it, and then they streamed the trailer for the first time!!!!!!  And I. Felt. Nothing.  Nothing at all.  And then they played it again and I thought, "Oh I must not have been paying attention well enough" (as if) "or I'm just tired but I'll be more alert this time.  Surely it will be better."  And I felt nothing again.

As I stared at the screen and listened to all the convention-goers cheer, I finally realized just how depressed I am right now.  All of the struggles we (we being my husband and I) have had over the last few months (I'm looking at you tiny angry landlady with the roofless apartment) are resolved.  There are no major problems in our lives right now.  And yet I can barely get out of bed.  I can't manage to work more than an hour or two a day.  Phone calls go unanswered.  Texts go unread.  Smoke signals go unreturned.  All of the people who have asked me about my reaction to the new Star Wars trailer have been lied to.  The truth is that I am currently broken.

It took me too long to acknowledge this bout of depression, and that's a huge problem.  I tried alternately to ignore what was going on or to attribute it to other health issues I was having.  Guys, that is a PROBLEM!  I feel like I'm sort of an expert on this whole surviving depression thing, but I ignored all of my own best advice.  And I've been afraid to publicly acknowledge the current struggle because I was afraid it would be seen as a failure and that all the people who have told me they look to me for inspiration would feel betrayed.  But I'm speaking out now because I think you need to know that this is not a fight that goes away for me.  I'm never speaking out of a place of "I've been there" wisdom.  It's always a place of "I will always sort of be there."  It ebbs and flows, and right now it's worse than it's been in a few years.  But it will not win.  I will keep fighting, as must all of you in whatever battles you face!

I have a therapist, I go for walks when I can, I take my medication, and I just saw my doctor again (new medication regimen starts tomorrow).  I wear my Star Wars shirts and bracelets and try to smile.  I am doing everything 'right.'  But the insane stress of late 2016/early 2017 (details unimportant) broke me and exceeded the limits of my old medication, and it's just going to take as long as it takes to pull myself out of the hole.

There's nothing anyone can do right now, and I promise I'll ask if something comes up.  If you have reached out to me any time this year and I have not responded, please know that it was NOT an intentional slight!

Please keep reaching out, but please don't expect a response.  I do deeply appreciate knowing that people care.  Know that between an awesome therapist, a competent doctor, and a loving husband, I am being well cared for.

Holding onto happiness

April 6, 2017

How to find a therapist:

I get asked all the time how to find a therapist; I have seen at least ten different therapists over the years, so I have a little experience in the matter.  Some I've found through school and church, some through the community counseling center in Jackson, WY, and my current therapist I found online.  It can be really daunting to find a therapist, so I thought I'd break down some of the options I know the most about here:

  • For EVERYONE:  I recently found and started using a service called BetterHelp.  It's an online therapy program that allows you to send messages and have voice or video sessions with a therapist.  As I mentioned, I just started using this one less than two months ago, but here are my thoughts:
    • Pro's:
      • You don't have to leave your house.  All you have to do is turn on your computer or phone.  That is SO nice when I'm having a day where I don't feel like I can get out of bed!
      • They have over 700 therapists, so you're matched with one within 24 hours.  You just fill out a quick survey and they pair you with someone who will be a good fit.  Also:
      • If they're not a good fit, you simply request a switch and get a new counselor within a matter of days.  At other counseling centers, that process can take weeks.
      • You can do your scheduling through the app or website, or your counselor can take care of it for you.
      • Even if you move, you can keep the same therapist.  Not an option with non-online counseling!
      • The first week is free, so you can try it out without committing to pay anything.  After that, you get unlimited messages and video sessions for $45 a week.  I know that can feel like a lot of money, but it is SO much cheaper than most places.  Your mental health is worth the investment!
    • Con's:
      • There are a LOT of bugs with the video chat on the iPhone app.  Until they get them worked out, use a computer for the video chats.
    • Click here to go to their website and get signed up!
  • For BYU* students:  The BYU Counseling Center (in the basement of the WILK) is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.  It's totally free, and they have truly amazing therapists there.  If you see Russ Bailey or Marlene Williams, tell them hi for me!  *Many universities have counseling centers.  It's worth checking to see if yours is one of them!
    • Pro's:
      • Free
      • Conveniently located
      • Amazing therapists (between individual and group therapy and going to school for a billion years, I've worked with five different counselors, all of whom were wonderful.)
    • Con's:
      • Counselors are often so busy (because they're awesome) that you can only get an appointment every week and a half to two weeks.
One of my favorite therapists, Russ Bailey.  He's at the BYU Counseling Center.
  • For Mormons*:  Ask your bishop if there is an LDS Family Services office near you.  I know many people who have used them, and they're awesome.  *Do other faiths have anything similar?  If so, please leave a comment and let me know!
    • Pro's:
      • It's often helpful to have a therapist who understands your belief system and can integrate those beliefs with your therapy.  
      • I'm not sure about pricing, but I'm sure it's at least on an income-based sliding scale.
    • Con's:  
      • You need to talk to the bishop to get a referral.  The only reason I put this in the con section is that I know when I'm depressed, it's so hard to get anything done; that includes making appointments with bishops and counselors.
  • For everyone (sort of):  Most communities have community counseling centers that accept clients, many of whom offer a sliding pricing scale based on income.  You can also ask a health care professional for a referral.
Basically I am an enormous advocate of therapy, and I hope that you'll get help wherever you are!  Was this helpful?  What other questions do you have about therapy?  Leave a comment below and I'll do my best to answer!

Thank you for coming. I hope you get something out of this. I hope you learn about yourself. I hope you get help if you need it or give it if you can.