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.


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.

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