How I ended up in therapy.

I thought I was “okay,” for years, for decades…until I realized that I wasn’t. And that had to be okay.

My grandfather had a nervous breakdown in 1962 from exposure to polishes and solvents he was working with and from badly-handled grief from losing his 18-year-old son in 1944. I was born in 1963, and I never got to know the man who raised my mother and aunt. He spent time in the state hospital and underwent electroshock therapy. Afterwards he was on drugs to manage his mental state for the rest of his life. He spent some time years later in a psych ward. I was 9 or 10, I think. Then he had to go back in for a while a few years later.

The idea I got from seeing those places was that I never wanted to end up there, and along with that, I thought that psychiatrists (I didn’t know about psychologists then) were the people who put you there. That there might be a reason for it was something that I didn’t spend a lot of time considering. As a result, my thoughts on therapy, for most of my life, were “HARD PASS.” I thought that I’d say the wrong thing and end up somewhere, and not be able to get out. So I developed the idea that I was in good shape mentally and didn’t need counseling.

Enter 1983 and Christianity, and an episode of the 700 Club (I watched this I kind of stuff early on) where Pat Robertson had some “expert” on who said that psychologists, by profession, were serving evil, and Pat threw in a 2¢ summary that a Christian psychologist was the same as a Christian witch-doctor. I now felt justified in my aversion to therapy. And that stayed with me for the rest of my time in the church.

As a Christian when I would struggle with something, people would verse-vomit and tell me to rely on dubious, and very badly explained things like the “Mind of Christ” and the comfort of the Holy Spirit. I never trusted that because I did not understand how it was supposed to work.

Being laid off from a job I had held for over 17 years placed me in some rather uncertain work situations, then selling my house and moving compounded the stress that I was dealing with. After a few episodes of rage at pretty manageable things, a friend pointed out that my problem had to do with stress and not the things in front me. So late in 2017 I found a therapist. There’s a lot to unpack, and losing my dad in June of 2018 only added more.

Your brain is an organ. It processes information. And when too much bad information overwhelms it, there are effects that you may not notice or be able to simply bounce off of like they’re of no regard. Recognizing that and seeking help for it is not a sign of weakness.

Pretending nothing is wrong is the weak move.

epiphany

I have cousins a few hours away in a couple of directions. I see one set a bit more often than others, and usually around Christmas. One of them is a minister and as expected his first concern is that one is staying faithful to God. I haven’t been to church in 3 years. In August of 2016 I posted a video announcing that I don’t believe anymore…that I am no longer Christian. I guess he and his wife didn’t see it. At least they don’t act like they saw it.

Every year when we meet up he usually asks me how long it’s been since I was at church, and says something to encourage me to go. Well I’m not going back. But I also don’t want to debate that at the table in a restaurant. I usually just nod my head while knowing that I’m not going back. This year I just really didn’t want to get into it. 2017 was extremely stressful with highlights of me selling my house and wrangling the move over to my mom’s with my dad in tow, dad’s health declining a bit more, my own trip to ER for heart palpitations…a visit I still owe money for. Then there’s the continued malaise, uncertainty and extremely annoying pronouncements from the White House. I just wanted the year over with and the family visit ended up wrapped up with all of that.

What came to me that morning, as I was obsessing over what my cousin was going to say about my non-attendance at services, was that my “service to God” is in taking care of my parents at this time in their lives. That it was acceptable to ‘The Divine.’ That it is good enough. I’m not a Christian. So I’m not going to try to influence anyone towards that path. The rest of what anyone thinks I “should be doing,” doesn’t matter.

The gameplan

I’m at work being paid as I write this. It’s our last shift as temps on this assignment. It’s the last graveyard shift I hope forever. This past year has been hard, first making adjustments to living at night and sleeping days. Being hired and the extentions of the contract. So now we’ve reached the last day.

There are things I need to focus on now that I have only half-heartedly been handling. I’m laying out some goals for the next year and a half:

  1. Eliminate sugar from my life. This is really important. My overall health, the diabetes, everything depends on this.
  2. Daily workouts
  3. Decluttering the house.
  4. Find a second job and/or a better-paying F/T one.
  5. Get more rest

I’ll be focusing here on 1 and 2 mostly. 3 is covered in the blog at clutterstruck.com. They’re integrated goals since stress drives a large share of my bad eating habits.