Mental Health GPS

It’s time to go back to therapy. 

And man am I excited. 

Like, confetti and balloons excited. 

(I don’t have either though because, environment.)

During my last doctor’s appointment, where the endless blood tests showed no answers for my 7 years of illness, my doctor shared that she believed my health issues stem from issues related to my childhood trauma. 

I talked about this some in my last post, but that announcement, even though in the form of speculation, left such a weight of defeat in my chest. I knew I was going back to therapy, I knew I’d need that help only a professional can provide, and in that moment I was not excited. There was no confetti. 

Instead, the wailing of My Chemical Romance’s “Black Parade” streamed across the inside of my mind as I daydreamed the funeral of my happiness. 

Now, I have been going to therapy on-and-off since the age of 11 when I was court-ordered to during my parents’ divorce. While at that age I didn’t have a choice, going to therapy has become one of my most preferred healing modalities. As a natural chatterbox, I have little to no issue blabbering about my troubles to a certified professional. (I do however struggle to communicate with nearly all other human beings).

People have different ways of expressing themselves, their experiences, and their emotions and mine is through speaking in monologues at someone who is paid to sit and listen. It is such a release to give words to the turmoil and the emotional aches that have been throbbing within myself. 

Yet, when my doctor gave me that information – that my health issues were likely linked to trauma – I wanted to crumble down and whither away. I kept thinking: I have to dive into all of this again? Again? Again??

I have told my story before, I have been vulnerable(ish) (more ish than vulnerable) in the offices of psychologists, life coaches, an art therapist, and other mental health practitioners. I’m happy to go to therapy for emotional tune-ups, to clear out some old mental dust-bunnies, but to go back to the trauma means to go deep within places of me I’ve walked away from. Places I thought I had successfully moved past from. 

I loathe the idea that all the years of work I’ve proactively engaged in to heal and support my mental health have been for nothing.

At that appointment, I saw failure in a place where I had thought I’d achieved victory, and that knocked me down. I was whimpery for a few days, getting choked up on metro rides and escalator hikes, wondering if there is such a thing as truly escaping the circumstance I’ve run from.

It has been years – YEARS – of really tough times, but I’ve pushed through. I kept going and endeavored to be my best self because the younger versions of myself had not suffered for nothing. I was going to get a good life out of all this at any (healthy) price.

Pre-doctor’s appointment, I was Mufasa looking over Pride Rock at my sprawling kingdom. It was mine, open for life and possibilities. Except for that shadowy place. I must never go there.

But now I have to.

A shift did come, though, and the dread began to release. Perhaps these health troubles are not a restart button, but simply a stopping point to ask for directions on where to go next. 

I don’t know anyone else who grew up with as parent with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). I don’t have anyone I can share notes with or who might have understanding regarding how this healing journey works. I have sisters but we do not speak of our experience and most interactions feel as though we didn’t grow up together. 

It has been a solitary trek and I have to admit that I have carried myself as far as I can.

I have done my absolute best and I am proud of that. I am grateful that I have made it as far away from the wreckage as I have, but now I need someone who can give me the next set of GPS coordinates to keep the journey going. 

I need to accept the fact that I’ve got big wounds and wounds of this size take more than a few pats of bacitracin to heal. 

I was born into a household with substantial dysfunction. There has never been a time in my life when my mother has not been mentally ill and until I walked away, those troubles held a constant presence. From infancy through the age of 20, I was exposed to endless emotional and psychological manipulation and abuse. It was all encompassing..

That kind of long lasting exposure creates complex knots and tangled wires within the self. Or so it has for me. 

Because my story is my story and is what I most know, I’ve developed a habit of dismissing the depths of harm I experienced. I feel shame in my challenges when I know so many people who have and continue to experience far more destructive circumstances. I’ve worked with folks in immigrant communities who have fled violence, corruption, poverty, and hunger. People who live in fear every day that their families will be ripped apart.

How can I possibly complain next to their cries?

It’s a sense of guilt I don’t entirely know how to get around. 

And the fact is, I’ve spent a lot of time being quiet, taking care of others over myself, prioritizing their wellbeings and their happiness. I have drowned out my thoughts, submerge my feelings, but I cannot ignore my physical health. It isn’t giving me much of a choice. 

I also realize something. There is confidence here that did not exist the last time I went down this road. All my efforts to heal, to learn, to grow have had an impact and are what will enable me to take on whatever this next section entails. 

This coming Tuesday, September 17 I will be going to my first therapy session with a new (to me) counselor. 

I am ready to tackle whatever is still causing me harm. I ready to dismantle the power that keeps it surging. I am ready to return to the emotional neighborhood of my childhood and share the stories I find. 

I’m excited. 

I may even bake myself a cake. 

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