#MentalHealth: How Therapy Has Helped Me

Oh yeah. I am going there. I am going to talk about mental health, specifically my mental health. This has been a touchy subject for me for a very long time. Of course, most of you, though I should not assume what you think, probably already assessed that I have mental health problems because I am a veteran. Though I do fit into the stereotype, I am not like all my brothers and sisters. Yes, I have simple PTSD; yes, despite the psychological community dropping the D due to the stigmatization of the problem. I also have anxiety, depression, insomnia, and a brain injury that only magnifies these problems with sudden and infrequent headaches and migraines. So, to say my brain does not function normal is an understatement.

For the longest time, partly out of pride and partly out of losing my job while in the military, I did not seek professional treatment for my problems. It wasn’t until 2016 that I asked my primary care doctor at the VA to refer me to mental health. If you take into account when my first deployment, which ended in 2008, that means I did not seek mental health help for eight years; six of those years I was still in the military where I saw two more deployments and a very traumatic incident that changed me forever both physically and mentally. The other two years were my first two years out of the military, where I was burying my feelings in work, school, and copious amounts of alcohol.

It was not until a few weeks before my 29th birthday that I finally realized there was something wrong with me. I had known for a while there was something wrong, but I did not want to acknowledge it. But with my twenties looming to a close with my final year in sight, I saw that I had spent that decade in a haze of booze and sex that did not do anything to help me. So, swallowing my pride and biting the bullet, I started seeing a psychiatrist and a therapist. If you are thinking that it is kind of redundant, you would be totally wrong. My psychiatrist is only there to administer me pills. My therapist is the one I actually talk to. I have tried to talk to my psychiatrist, but she just brushes off and just asks me how my pills are treating me.

I am not saying that they (the VA) are doping me up because they are not. My anti-depressants/anti-anxiety pills that I am currently on have actually helped me a lot. I know a lot of veterans who are on pills for the mental health problems and they say they are zombies and are numb. I, on the other hand, am the complete opposite. This is the best I have felt in a very long time. There was a period where my pills were not working, and I was coping again with drinking, but I asked for my dosage to be upped and that is the only time that my psychiatrist and I have seen eye to eye.

You are probably asking why I stay with a psychiatrist that I do not like and cannot work with. Well it is part of my problem; I do not like change and it is hard for me to open up to anyone. It took almost a year for me to open up to my therapist about the incident. It took me longer to talk to my psychiatrist about it and I still do not feel comfortable talking about it. Even though I cannot get help for my insomnia (currently) from my psychiatrist, I have been patient enough to deal with her until I leave and transfer to a new facility. I think the reason why I stand her is because I do not want to start the whole process over again and have to repeat myself. Yes, my files are digital, and my new psychiatrist will see them, but I hate repeating myself. It is not the first time I have done this. When I was in Germany, I had a chance to switch offices and do my actual job in a non-combat setting. But because of my discomfort of changing my habits and schedule, I stayed in my office where I had been working for a year and a half.

With taking on stabilizing myself mentally, I have also reconnected with my spiritual side. I guess this is my way to become a more whole person or that I just felt the need to reconnect with my craft. I had put my magic and my worship on the back burner for a long time because I blamed it on so many of the bad things that happened to me. What I was really doing was deflecting and trying not to be hurt again. Was it good for me? Of course, not because I had so many more positive experiences with the craft, but I realized that I had to become solitary again to regain some sort of stable measure in my life. I connect only with other witches to talk about things and trade ideas, but I never commune with them and provide essential energy. Unless it is for card reading that requires me to connect with them to better understand the questions they are asking the spirits and divine.

I guess what I am trying to get at is…therapy has helped me both mentally and spiritually. It was something I put off for so long that I did not know how to act and connect with myself physically.

How do you take care of yourself mentally? Do you see a therapist?

Stay Beautiful!

Michele