Monday is therapy day. One week we meet at noon; the other we meet at 6pm. I like the evening time better, but E leads a group on alternate Monday evenings.
We’ve had some intense weather here, and at 10:00 Monday, E texts me to ask if we can meet at 3:45 instead of noon. She’s not sure she can get to her office before noon because of the ice. It’s fine, I say. She made a similar request back in July that sent me into weeks of agonized distrust. Well, it wasn’t quite the same. In July it was because she wanted to cluster all of her appointments closer and go home early. Regardless, this time it didn’t bother me. Progress.
In session, I don’t have a lot to say. We have been sitting on the floor, coloring or drawing, for weeks now. I tell her, “Let’s just color.” I like that she’s nearby. But I don’t feel like there is anything she can do for me.
She’s sorry I am feeling this low. She’s concerned because it keeps coming back. I’m thankful she cares, and I believe her, but that’s not changing anything.
I think I usually try to shelter her from my despair, my husband too. I don’t want to bother them. I don’t want to be a drag. So I often say I’m doing “okay” when in fact I’m thinking I could buy a gun and then blow my brains out in the parking lot. Today, though, I decide I’m going to open that window and let E see what’s inside.
“I just can’t keep going like this,” I tell her. “It’s so much work, and nothing really changes. I’m not being mopey. I’m recognizing how it really is.”
She reminds me of things that have been good in my life, like my trip to Ecuador in 2015. I wasn’t depressed then, she says.
“That’s true, I wasn’t,” I said. “But that was three weeks. Those good periods don’t last. Even quitting my job hasn’t helped.”
She says if I think about my past five years overall and imagine the next five years being similar, what do I feel? Honestly, I explain, I’d rather be dead. The good periods aren’t enough to compensate for this relentlessness. I know I’m down right now, and I know that distorts my judgment–but still. I don’t even know who I am except for depressed.
She asks me directly, “Would you kill yourself?”
“I would,” I say. “It would be a relief. But I feel like I don’t have that option. Andres needs me. My husband has said to me nothing could devastate him more.”
“So you feel responsible,” she says.
“And trapped,” I say.
“I can see why you’d feel like that,” she tells me. “I mean, I’d be devastated too. I don’t want you to do that. But I can see why, when you feel so bad, dying seems like a relief.”
She looks at me, clear-eyed, not afraid to talk about this, not rushing to tell me everything will be okay, or I’ll feel better, or I should never think about suicide. She doesn’t try to rush me away from the topic. I appreciate this about her.
She says something to the effect of, “If this is what it’s going to be like for you, we have to find ways to increase the positive experiences, to bring you as much contentment and satisfaction as possible.”
I can hardly get out of bed this week, so it’s hard to imagine what that looks like. But she’s right. If I can’t kill myself, I have to make this bearable.
We talk about finding a new psychiatrist. The psychiatric nurse I’ve been seeing for six years is not on my new insurance plan, and anyway, I don’t feel like she listens to me. E says she’ll take the list of providers on my plan to her consultation group and see if she can get recommendations. She will also call the psychiatric nurse I have seen before. She will also call my insurance and see if they will pay for sessions longer that 45 minutes (hallelujah); sometimes they will grant a waiver to make it possible. I can see she’s trying hard to support me.
That means I have to try, too. I don’t have the option to give up.