Steps Into Therapy Part 4

Official Diagnoses 

On a scale from 0 to 10, how anxious are you?

0 being reckless because you don't care. 3 is a normal level of caution. 10 being unable to leave the house or doing anything due to anxiety.

An abnormal fear of being in crowds, public places, or open areas, sometimes accompanied by anxiety attacks
— Definition of Agoraphobia

Me? I'm on the high end, currently sitting around an 8. Usually I sit around a 6. For the last while though, it's been creepy up steadily. Being this anxious all the time is not healthy. 

On the recommendation of a friend I picked up the Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmund J. Bourne. The goal - help me better understand all the feelings. Through reading it, I began to better understand how anxiety works. I learned the different types of anxiety and self diagnosed with agoraphobia. The book defines it a bit further than Google, with a line that felt like it was made for me; "you are afraid of being in situations from which escape might be difficult"

That is me, always looking for ways out of every situation. Not that I always have to leave, most times just knowing I can escape helps. My highest times of anxiety tend to stem from not having two or three escape plans, physically and emotionally. I tend to run when trapped. However I don't think self diagnosing is healthy and so off I go to therapy. 

If you haven't read the first three parts of this series, this post might not make a lot of sense. Just know that it took a lot to get me through the door. Once you're through, things begin progressing rapidly and it can feel hard to find your feet. For example, I've always known a diagnoses was going to be on the table. When I met with my regular doctor she tentatively diagnosed me with moderate depression, but we did not talk about my anxiety levels at all. At the end of my appointment with the psychologist, she gave me a diagnoses as well as 4 goals that we would be working towards. I remember the diagnoses, but not much after that. My brain was too filled with those words and what their impact could mean. Immediate thought: its been said by a professional (out loud) and how will that negatively affect me, for the rest of my life.

Mental health is not something people take seriously and so the chances of a future employer searching my name and finding my blog are pretty high. Ironically, it'll be my writing that has the potential to negatively affect my life verses a note on a confidential doctors file. Mental health still has a lot of stigma related to it and the more people write, talk, and share the more we fight that stigma. Part 3 of this series is where I discussed the paper work filled out before the appointment. I had been actively searching for information on the paperwork in the months leading up to my appointment, but was unable to find any. Which is why I shared it. If we are okay with getting broken bones fixed, we should be okay with getting our heads some help. But that's not the way society currently works. 

The Diagnoses: Moderate Depression and Anxiety

For the moment my diagnoses is just a broad sweep of the term anxiety. Maybe that will change, maybe it won't, My self diagnoses makes me curious if the doctors will go that route as well or if I need to put it out of my head. I like details and it's going to take further appointments to have her catch up on everything needing help. During the appointment, I got the feeling she didn't think blogging was healthy. I do tend to dwell on certain issues as memories are triggered, but I can not imagine not having this space to write it all out (or not having a creative outlet). 

The 4 Goals: Learn how to move forward in a healthy way, find consistent ways of balancing and normalizing my levels of anxiety, and purse a direction career wise. 

The goals were brought up after the diagnoses, so I struggle to remember all of what was said. I'm pretty sure I got close to the goals she set, but I definitely need to ask for it again and maybe take a picture of it to, so I don't forget as I can not remember the fourth goal at all. I need to remember that it's perfectly fine to ask for clarification and that it's probably better if I do. The whole point of this is to heal and not getting clarification is just going to hinder me in the long run.

This is where I am. High on the scale of anxiety and deep in the pits of depression. Today's difference is I have help, making tomorrow a better day. 

How's your mental health?

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NOTE: This is part four of a five part series, posting in September.