Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Paying It Forward

Readers of my blog know I've been M.I.A from January until the end of April, battling a crippling bout of depression that pretty much led me in bed unable to move. It was awful.

Everything went out the window. I stopped bathing. I stopped grooming. I stopped eating. My agoraphobia was off the chain, I left my apartment only to buy cat food and litter. I was sleeping up to 20 hours a day. I had no interest in anything including the cat.

It got so bad that every morning I would curse I was alive, yet I wasn't suicidal. I wasn't in physical pain. It was in my head, in my entire being, in my body, my viscera and soul.

It didn't really begin to lift til the end of April. Now that it is pretty much over, I never want to go through it again. It was clearly the worst experience of my life.

Which brings me to the present. Last week, coffee with mom at Dunkin Donuts. I told her I can't go through that again I have to do something with the second part of my life. But what? I'm clueless.

Long discussion with my social worker. Then it hit me. Pay it forward. I've been a peer councilor before. I was quite good at it. Why not try my hand at doing it for real?

There are for colleges/universities within a 20 mile radius from my apartment. I looked at graduate studies programs from all four and met with representatives from each school. Three were interested in me and one only offers a PhD but assured me I would not have a problem having access to it's wonderful library. Two schools offer Masters in Counseling and/or Psychology. One just offers a MSW.

However, when I explained why I wanted to get this degree, why I would be only taking one class per semester, they agreed it was a good idea.

PAY IT FORWARD.

I've had therapists and psychiatrists who don't understand what it's like to be in my shoes and I didn't work well with them.

Look at it this way. I'm a female and I see a female gynecologist.    I saw a man once but he was, lets face it, clueless to what it is to menstruate, how miserable water buildup is. Etc etc. A female understands, and offers not sympathy but a feeling of camaraderie.

Same with having a doctor or a therapist who's experienced depression, or mania or has a family
member touched by it. It's easier to talk to them, to relate. They have walked in my shoes.

I'm not saying its going to be easy. College was easy when I was 20. I'm slightly twice that now, it's going to be difficult. So is life. I just don't want anyone to go through what I just went through and if they do, give them the tools to get through it.  I don't even know if this is the right career path for me. The only things I have ever really been good at were school and writing. I can't pay the rent with writing, and writing by its very nature is solitary and I isolate too much. I have to stop that to get better for my own recovery.

 I'm going to try. I may fail but then I may succeede. I don't know. All I know is I cannot take another bout of depression like I just went through. Something tells me I won't survive it the next time.

19 comments:

pathwaytohappyness said...

Best of luck! It sounds like you have your head on straight and keeping yourself busy with your new studies will certainly help keep your own depression a bit more at bay.

susan said...

Thank you! I don't know if my head is on straight but I know what I need to do. It's the first steps, the baby steps that are the hardest.

It will be exciting to go back to school though!!!

Ruth said...

Glad to hear from you. Sounds like a plan to help you move forward. Cheering you on from my computer.

susan said...

thanks Ruth

Jacqueline Hough said...

You have an amazing plan. I wish you much success. I think you will be blessing to others who are struggle. Sometimes knowing someone has walked a similar path makes all the difference.

Anonymous said...

I think you are right with your desire to be a therapist who has experienced depression making you a more sensitive, knowing therapist. I have heart trouble and have sometimes wished I knew a cardiologist who 'd had a bypass before he so blithly pushes patiens into it! Experience pays, seriously. I hope you either have already shared how you got well, or if not,that you will share that in this kind of widely publicized forum one day to encourage/teach others.

Chloe said...

I just stumbled onto your blog. I wish you great success. I do know the feeling, I tend to like staying busy as it keeps my depression at bay. I think you are right, it is hard to talk to someone who hasn't been through what you've been through. Don't give up, you've just gained one more supporter.

Be well. :)

Syd said...

It sounds like a great idea. And I believe you will do well at the class and the career. Glad the deep depression is gone.

Jen Daisybee said...

I'm working on a BA half in Social Work so I can be a case manager for many of the same reasons you mentioned. Go for it! You'll be an excellent therapist!

Pat said...

Congratulations on your strength and determination; it sounds like a very good move. I don't know if you have covered this topic yet, but I personally know two families who have knowingly passed down Bipolar I in its most extreme manifestations, and they still do not see see a reason to stop reproducing. What are your thoughts?

Cheryl S said...

I admire your strength and determination. I think this sounds like a wonderful and smart way to move forward -- for you and for those who may benefit from your help one day, or even today. Your post is a bit of a kick in the pants for me as I too isolate too much and it does not help with depression. Reading how you are moving forward after such a serious bout inspires me to do more as well. Thank you.

Rose Sauve said...

Congratulations on your decision to pay it forward. I have often thought about becoming a therapist but have never had the guts to do it, I've always been afraid that it would have a negative effect on my own depression. I do agree though, that a therapist who has personal experience with mental health problems is far more qualified. Good luck!

K2 said...

I admire your courage and believe following a course of study will be
beneficiL.bEST OF LUCK

Alex said...

Whom God wants to destroy, he first makes mad

Anonymous said...

Go get'em girl - - you have tremendous experience. In a sense we have all been your patients, you have helped us all...especially me girl.

http://www.embracetheinneryou.com said...

I wish you lots of luck! I hear what you are saying about the importance of "being in your shoes." I am a life coach with personal experience with the severe depression that comes with bipolar disorder. I help women who are springing back from the depression to create a fulfilling life despite the diagnosis. I teach self-love, gratitude, and purpose. If you would like to check out my website it is: http://www.embracetheinneryou.com
I wish you all the best!

Ang said...

Wow. You are incredibly inspiring. Thank you! And God bless.

Ang said...

Wow. You are incredibly inspiring. Thank you! And God bless.

Paul Valley said...

Been off the net but after reading I thought to myself this is exactly how I feel the doctors that I HAD were like your going to be fine I've yet to find a doctor that understands what it's like also seeing as they spent no more then 15 minutes with me etc finding a good therapist is like finding a small nugget of gold

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