Slipping out from behind the couch….

Starting my blog with a bit of trepidation. I have been excited about writing, but I am a bit intimidated by the technology. I suspect that it’s more than that as well. As much as I’ve wanted to share my story and my experiences, I am a bit scared to come so completely out of the shadows behind which I seem to live. I’m a therapist. That is so key to my identity, and yet it is still the part I sometimes don’t feel I deserve to claim. I work with severely mentally ill patients in a private practice. Most of my patients are foster children or former foster children grown up. It’s an interesting and unique practice. I love the population I work with right now even though I am struggling to make this practice work for me personally, especially from a financial perspective. I have to chuckle because my own therapist says he wouldn’t want to work with my patients. He’s been there, done that. I guess that’s good. I hope he doesn’t retire anytime soon because I not only need his encouragement to do my job and treat my patients, but to face my own demons and create a life for myself outside of just work.

I have had depression for most of my life. I can see the seeds of it in my childhood and, by adolescence, I can begin to identify episodes. I have dealt with anxiety as well. I know that there are inherited aspects to my mental illness, and I know that it is real. As smart as I am, and I’m damn smart, I can’t out think my illness. (To add insult to injury, I’ve developed fibromyalgia over the years from the stress of trying to cope with my mental health issues and financial problems and, well, life.) I can’t out think it. Some days, my intellect helps me cope. However, it doesn’t overcome the biochemistry. Yes, if I exercise, eat right, get good sleep, etc, it will help the biochemistry part of the equation, but it becomes a vicious cycle. And, when you’ve had depression as long as I have, it changes the way the brain itself functions. We’re just beginning to understand how that happens.

What’s worse in some ways is that I bore myself with this all. I get tired of being me. I get sick of being sick. I know that the deepest depression I was ever in was where I was bored with everything for over a year. Nothing mattered. Nothing made me happy, even when I knew it should. Nothing really made me sad, either. Even things that should have cut deeply. I felt mostly nothing. I did cry some, but crying became hard even. I just existed. It was horrific.

So, why a blog? I know that there are movies and TV shows that play on the idea that the “man behind the couch” is really the crazy one. Many people talk about how crazy therapists and psychiatrists are. Not all have the same struggles, but some do. These are mine. It’s an odd juxtaposition to deal with others who are mentally ill when dealing with the effects of my own mental illness. I pull myself together, even when deeply depressed at times, and go to a house, and deal with a four year old who has faced horrible abuse and has a future where mental illness is very likely. I need to be clear here. I was not abused. I was abandoned and hurt, and this contributed to issues I have, but the mental illness would likely have been there anyway. There is a strong genetic component.

I am very empathetic, especially at work (not always with those closest) and I feel the pain of those kids. Yet, somehow, my own pain is a bit more distant. There are the odd moments when what I say to them is what I should be saying to myself. It’s just odd. Really!

OK. Just to have it stated. I will do all I can to protect the confidentiality of my patients. I’ll do the same for family and friends, and they are the ones more likely to be upset! I’ll change names, combine characters, change circumstances, and the like. I want the truth of my life to be told, but I want to, as much as possible, protect others. So, bear with me. And, if you think you recognize yourself in some character I’m describing, maybe you’re right. Could be you are way off as well. I know more than one “crazy” person.

I love that word because it can be good or bad and because it is one that people with mental illness hide from. Not hiding here!

So. There’s the start. I hope it gets more interesting for me and for you. I had to start, though! So, join in and let me know what you think. And, remember, you are dealing with someone who claims the word ‘crazy” for herself. Just be cautious!

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~ by Janice Holladay on August 16, 2011.

4 Responses to “Slipping out from behind the couch….”

  1. I like to say that i come from a long line of ‘crazy’ 🙂 Look forward to reading your posts.

  2. I’m not a psychologist or a psychiatrist but I do understand where you are coming from with the depression. It is easier to give someone else the same advice that you should be taking in. You think wow I should be doing this like I’m telling them to do and don’t do it for ourselves.

    • Very true! There’s an old saying, i don’t know the source, but it’s says something about how we teach what we need to learn. As a therapist, that’s really true. I bet you experience that as a mom, too!

  3. looking forward to reading about your journey xxx

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