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Therapy Did Not Cure Me!

It is true when they say that healing is not linear; there are good days, some bad days and often days when getting out of bed itself can feel like a task. Depression is so subtle that if you are not paying attention, you would not know that it’s there. It creeps in quietly and sometimes in waves, washing over you again and again and you try and try harder to do what you can to stay afloat until it builds up into a tsunami. It feels like everything you have worked hard for, has collapsed- only that, maybe it hasn’t!

I must admit, I have done extremely well professionally during these waves of sadness- being published, securing scholarships and winning cases back-to-back. But then, why does the void keep tugging at my heart, chewing me up from the inside? On some days, why am I able to fight back and girl boss it like no other, but on most days- I just sit there, in quiet resignation and do my best to just keep breathing.

It wasn’t immediately clear to me how talking to a stranger twice a month would help me unpack the issues and emotions I had kept buried for over 15 years, but I still continued to go for these sessions with a help of a friend whose insistence that I must stay alive worked! Initially talking about how I was feeling helped me find the roots of my unhappiness, understand that my thoughts and fears were not always irrational and discover ways I could actively work on myself. But to be completely honest, I was also desperate for an instant cure, something to alleviate the waves of sadness that engulfed me every now and then because by now it was confirmed that I was severely depressed.

If only emotional healing was that simple!

At some point in my second year of therapy, I remember admitting to my therapist that I was tired of fighting with my grief to which she replied “But who told you it needs to be fought? What if we sit with the grief, befriend it and listen to what it has to say?”

What?! How could I befriend something so vile, something so terrible? I wondered. It was impossible. I hated my grief, my sadness haunted me. It was evil and dark. It had hurt me so much. I hated how it took away my hope and made me want to hide from the world.

But surprisingly, the question lingered on for days and weeks. I do not know what changed my mind- maybe the Universe or my exhaustion from fighting back too much but I finally gave in and decided to give my relationship with depression a chance!

And that is when the shift happened.

From the moment I began to treat depression as a friend, I immediately became kinder to my grief and as a result, I was kinder to myself too. I sat with it, nurtured it and began to look at this new relationship with grace and softness, just like when you begin to get to know someone. I showered it with compassion I never knew existed within me and with curiosity, asked my grief what we could pursue out of this new alliance? what could we offer each other out of this friendship? For instance, I learnt that when my new friend would come calling and if ignored, she would throw a childlike tantrum for attention. And if only showered with a little attention in these times, we both realised that my depression would feel acknowledged, seen and understood. Infact, when I started making space for her, she too began to respect if I was busy at the moment, and would wait for me until I had the headspace. You see, like any other relationship- this too was based on a mutual understanding of give and take.

My new friend also brought me gifts. One of the first gifts she brought along with her was vulnerability. With the support of this gift, I began to introduce my friend, depression to my family, trusted friends and my counsellor. At first, I was not sure whether they would accept her as a part of me because no one wants to see their loved ones in a “not okay” relationship. However, on more than one occasion, they embraced her with affection- My depression started feeling accepted, not abandoned! Cared for, not ignored!

Another gift that she brought me was the ability to rest and not beat myself up for not being as productive as I would like to be. Instead of feeling guilty and worthless for not working well, she taught me my value was not attached to my productivity levels and if both she and I needed to rest, we could now do it together instead of being at each other’s necks like siblings trying to claim the last Oreo piece!

I am kinder now, to myself, to her and to people around me.

But most importantly, I no longer hate myself for hurting.

When I started therapy four years ago, I would have never thought that down the road of my healing journey, I would nurture my sadness, befriend it and choose to gently sit with it over rushing to rip of the band-aid and scream “ LET THE HEALING BEGIN.”

-Joanna Shireen

Category: Pressed Flowers

'Pressed Flowers' are extracts from client's diaries/journals, penned during their therapeutic journey! Shared with permission.

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This is beautiful! Love this piece! The honesty and sensitivity with which it has been penned down :'D




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