During therapy while I was inpatient we had to think of someone we admired and write down all the reasons why; all their traits we admired. I of course picked my husband because he’s amazing in so many ways. He’s a good father, always pushing our children to do their best even if sometimes he loses patience, he is so determined almost to a fault sometimes, he knows how to be sensitive and vulnerable but strong also. This man is so smart; I admire his intelligence and sometimes am just in awe at how smart he is. Sometimes I can’t even follow some of the things he says. Seriously, he’s that smart. He’s resilient so even when he’s breaking inside he manages to keep it together and do everything he can for his family. And most of all I admire him for sticking around. In the 13 years we’ve been married, I’ve (I mean we; this is a family illness) endured 5 psychiatric admissions. He’s never once tried to leave me, he’s always taken care of things while I was gone, and he has always, and I mean always, been supportive and encouraging. So, seriously I can’t say enough about why I admire this man…
That was just the first part of our assignment that day. We then had to go through that same list and put a plus next to the traits we ourselves possess. I put a plus sign next to all but 4 (there was a list of 12). I just stared at that paper thinking, “How can this be? I’m bad. I’m worthless. Or am I?” It was one of those “ah ha!” moments where things start to come together and you realize what you see in others is often hidden within yourself as well.
So, now what about the ones I didn’t put a plus sign next to? Well, negative signs went next to those four. Those are four things I need to work on.
I need to work on trustworthiness (making it to work is and has been impossible for quite sometime leaving my fellow nurses in a lurch), to my fellow nurses if you’re reading this, I’m sorry and wish I didn’t have this beast I’m fighting. It’d make it so much easier to go to work everyday.
And to my children, I haven’t been the most trustworthy when it comes to preparing meals, helping with homework, and staying out of my bedroom to love on you (Thank God for my husband and mother for picking up my slack here). I promise this disorder has taken over my life but it does not take away from how much I love you.
Honesty is another one I need to work on. Sometimes because of my depression and/or anxiety, it’s easier to come up with a lie than tell the truth. Nobody really wants to hear when they ask, “Hey, how are you?!” That you’re depressed and thought about suicide three times before you got out of bed this morning.
Resilience was another trait I have to work on. I used to think I was super resilient but lately I’m having a difficult time getting back up after this last punch.
The fourth trait was determination. I was suicidal and although I sometimes didn’t feel suicidal, I wasn’t to the point I felt determined to stay alive or even get better. Staying in bed and escaping the world and its problems while in a deep slumber sounded like a better alternative at times.
The last part of this assignment was to be transparent, brave, and share our list with our peers. I of course had trouble with this. I did it but it wasn’t easy. See, I’m a very emotional person and have a hard time holding back my emotions. After having this epiphany that maybe I’m not all that bad, it was hard to be transparent and not be emotional.
I read mine and cried through the whole thing. But you know what? I’m glad I did it. I learned something valuable about myself. I’m not bad although that’s how I’ve felt my whole life. Growing up with physical, verbal, emotional abuse, you’re conditioned to believe you’re bad. Once the depression has set in, you KNOW you’re bad.
BUT this is the lie depression is telling you. You’re good despite your depression. You’re good despite your childhood. You’re beautiful despite being told otherwise.
If you’ve never been on a psychiatric unit, good for you. You don’t want to be. It’s not a bad place though. If you need help it can be your solace. If you have been on a unit you know how Group therapy goes; nobody ever really wants to go. There’s a lot of moans and groans and “I just want to take a nap”s. It’s difficult to pick yourself up and go work on yourself, face your demons, and do it willingly. It is emotionally draining is the best way I can put it.
But in the end, you walk out feeling lighter, stronger, and accomplished. You realize now maybe you’re not bad, maybe you’re not so weak, maybe you ARE resilient. It takes strength and resilience to walk through those doors and know they’ll be locked behind you so you can face some shit you don’t want to face. You ARE strong. You’re here aren’t you?