I started seeing a therapist in August 2016 when I was 9 months sober. I was prepared to be Goldilocks and shop around, looking for the therapist that was juuuuuust right. I lucked out and found “the one” on my first try; I’ve seen her every Wednesday ever since.
The first 9 months of my sobriety, or as I like to call it, BT (before therapy), I talked about what I was going through to anyone who was willing to listen. That was usually my therapy-advocating roommate. She listened to me, gave excellent advice, and found graciaous ways to sneak in the whole “you should see a therapist” message. I’d get annoyed, then after the 100th time, it finally sunk in. I realized that my neuroses weren’t so cute after all. I felt like Carrie Bradshaw circa season two of Sex and the City.
At 14, I was struggling with some family issues and saw a psychiatrist. She diagnosed with me depression and put me on antidepressants. I tried Prozac. Then Zoloft. Then Effexor. I hated them all. I was a stubborn punk who knew everything and I didn’t need medication. At 16, I found what I thought I needed: weed and Smirnoff Ice (#classy). At 18, I took myself off my meds without consulting a psychiatrist. I don’t need antidepressants! I have weed and booze!
The first time I got high was the best feeling in the world. It calmed me down. I was finally relaxed. Nothing else mattered other than the cloudy moment I had just created. From that moment forward, I subconsciously decided that cloudiness would be my medication of choice. Smoking weed turned into popping pills and stealing them from my grandmother. Drinking a few Smirnoffs turned into chugging whiskey and hooking up with strangers. All of this collectively turned into my lifestyle for the next 13 years.
My current therapist has helped me identify the underlying issues that led to those years of self destruction. I’ve found that I have agitated depression/high functioning anxiety. This means that I feel like I have to solve every problem and if I don’t, I perceive myself as weak. It also means that I tend to stay busy as hell so I don’t have to feel my depression. I subconsciously self destruct – even in sobriety.
I’m still stubborn. I still choose to self-medicate instead of take antidepressants. I’ve prescribed myself 20 minutes of meditation every morning, Holy Basil (an herbal anti-stress supplement) once a day, Kava tea (an anti-anxiety herbal tea) as needed, and little to no caffeine (I’ve found that it exacerbates my anxiety).
Therapy has helped me figure out who I am and who I’ve been all along. I’m not my depression, I’m not my triggered behaviors, and it’s not my responsibility to save the world. I wish I’d have taken my mental health seriously long ago. But if I did that, I wouldn’t have developed a kick ass substance abuse problem that I could write about today. #worthit