I am the kind of person who waits until I have hit rock bottom at full-speed and broken every literal and metaphorical bone in my body before I seek help. Call it stubbornness, or maybe laziness: Whatever it is, it’s the same reason I don’t have health insurance, I don’t call friends when I’m lonely and I wait to clean out my car until garbage falls out every time I open the door.
Well, about two months ago, I finally hit rock bottom.
My marriage was in a state of crisis. In addition to our relationship problems, my husband had been suffering mentally and physically from his job so he quit – which was ultimately the right decision – but suddenly I had to find enough freelance work to support the whole family. Our savings (“remaining dollars” is what I should call them, because we no longer have a formal emergency fund) dwindled quickly and we fell behind on everything. We ate potatoes and ramen noodles for dinner on several occasions. We walked instead of driving to save gas. It almost made it worse to see my daughter smiling and giggling in her happy oblivion.
While my husband became quiet and withdrawn from the world; I went into productivity overdrive with my writing and developed a PTSD-like anxiety. I couldn’t doze off at bedtime. When I did, I would jolt awake from deep sleep every couple of hours with a pounding heart. Work-related phrases, or the name of a client or interviewee, would pop into my head throughout the night and cycle maddeningly until morning. My daughter would toss and turn next to me, sensing my anxiety. Our entire sleeping arrangement was the icing on the cake of our collective depression: Nobody slept well. My husband alternated between the bed and couch, and we all woke up every couple hours for one reason or another.
Enough was enough. Though my depression had always hindered me in some way, it had now reached a point where it extended to every corner of my life. I knew from experience that talk therapy had helped me in the past, so I did some research and found a therapist who only charged $35 a session. This, I figured, we could afford.
My first two visits were getting-to-know-you sessions. I felt like I was rambling, and though it did help to get some things off my chest without fear of judgment, I wasn’t sure if therapy would actually help me—at this point, I wanted someone to tell me how to fix my life rather than figure out how to do it on my own. However, at my third visit, we brainstormed goals and ways to achieve those goals, and I started to visualize a happier, calmer future.
A strange thing started happening after I set goals at that appointment: even though I wasn’t actively addressing those goals on a daily basis, just having put them down on paper made them prevalent in my mind and I started making changes. We moved the TV out of the living room so we could reduce screen time and focus on interacting with each other at night. I started getting rid of clutter around the apartment, which helped clear up my mind.