Two weeks after telling my friends, guidance counselor, and professor about wanting to kill myself I was scheduled to go to my first therapy appointment. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was scared and confused about the idea of being diagnosed and labeled for my personal struggles. I remember my first therapy session thinking, how the fuck did I get here? Am I psychotic? Is it going to be like tv? Am I going to be trapped in a strait jacket or an insane asylum? What if I say too much? Are they going to give me drugs?
I did not feel secure during my first therapy appointment. I was scared shitless and angry at myself for even ending up here. I believed therapy was the only solution, so I took a chance at opening up to my therapist about my problems at the innocent age of 15.
It wasn’t hard for me to open up to my therapist, because I was the type of person who was very open about who I was. I spent an entire hour ranting about all of my problems, women, friends, alcohol, and abandonment issues with my family. My therapist said very little, all she did was write on a notepad and ask a few questions to get more information out of me. I wasn’t sure what she thought of me, but this pattern of communication continued for two weeks.
After this two week period stopped, my therapist told me to stop. She said that the way that I spoke for the past two weeks was not consistent. She said that she noticed that some days I seemed very slow about the way I wanted to open myself up to her and other days I came off as very eager. She said that I she was suspicious that I had bipolar disorder and that I needed to speak to a psychiatrist.
My psychiatrist was not much of a help. All he did was look at me ask me if I thought about killing myself and if I felt down on myself. I confirmed that I have had these problems and he looked at me with a blank stare. He wrote a prescription on a piece of paper and said for me to take a drug called, Zoloft.
My experience with Zoloft was not a good one, instead of numbing my depression, it was intensified. I remember sitting in class at the edge of my seat thinking that people were plotting to kill me. I occasionally developed a cold sweat and stomach pains that made me feel that I was on the edge of coming to a certain death. My sensory abilities were numbed as well. When someone would hug me, I was unable to feel. Zoloft was not something that helped my depression, it only intensified it.
A month into taking Zoloft, I told my therapist that this was not the right thing for me. My therapist did not show much concern and said that she still believed that I was bipolar, so she wrote a letter to my Psychiatrist to try something else. I was prescribed Wellbutrin.
Wellbutrin was not much better, I experienced the same problems that I had with Zoloft minus the cold sweats and stomach pains. I started to engage in more risky behaviors and tried to kill myself using other substances when I was prescribed this drug. I started to lose faith in finding help and said to my grandparents that I did not want to seek therapy anymore and that the drugs made the pain worst.
Towards the end of high school I stopped therapy and used alcohol and fake friendships as a cure to my sickness. I became an insomniac and restless. I tried to kill myself again during my first semester of college, and found myself back into therapy. However this time, for the next two years of my life therapy started to become helpful.
I changed therapists, and started to engage in group therapy. My primary therapist did not prescribe me medicine or listen to me while hastily writing on a pen and paper like my old therapist did. She cared about my well-being, she gave me feedback, and she was concerned for my life. My group therapist and the other people I met allowed me to realize the intensity of my problems. I learned that I was misdiagnosed and found out that I was not bipolar, but someone with clinical depression.
My therapist said these words to me
“you may be at the worst time of your life, but I believe you will learn to manage.”
I learned that my generalized feelings of diminished self-worth, hatred, low self-esteem, insomnia and restless were not something that a bipolar person experiences, but something that is characteristic of clinical depression. For the next two years I engaged in one on one therapy and group therapy to develop coping mechanisms to be able to manage my problem better.
Unfortunately due to financial reasons, I was not able to continue therapy for the remainder of my college career. I learned how to become better at coping with my problems but my depression did not end. I still felt inferior, I was insecure and unsure how to feel like I was welcomed amongst my peer groups and circles. I was scared of opening up to people about my problem, because I was scared I would be considered a crazy person or that people would not understand me. My hopelessness never ended, and therapy was not the cure to helping me feeling accepted.