Posts Tagged ‘therapy’

Psychotherapy and Me

Saturday, September 27th, 2014
Henri Matisse's The Goldfish

Henri Matisse’s The Goldfish

“I’d like a hug,” I decided on my last day. We proceeded to discuss the details of our hug – where we would place the arms, when to terminate the embrace, how tightly we would hold each other. After agreeing on my comfort level, I stood and hugged her, a tad tighter than we had initially agreed on.

We pulled apart and she asked, like a typical therapist, “What are the tears in your eyes about?”

Tear ducts unabashedly hot, I replied, “I don’t know; what are your tears about?”

My therapist was crying. She was crying for me, for the progress I’ve made in the past three years, for the impending separation to come. My time with her was not over – I still planned to have a session every month – but everything from this point on will be different. That much, we both knew and expected.

A week into college life in New York City, and yes, everything has changed. My cat doesn’t mewl for food every morning. The night is noisier, both in and out of my head. I’m surrounded by strangers who all seem like they’ve got it together. I miss the convenience and privacy of my room, long drives while blasting music, and the Henri Matisse Goldfish painting that hung on my therapist’s wall. Everything is different, including me.

Four years ago, depression plagued me. It seemed the only things I enjoyed were sleep and razors, constant worrying, and constant headaches. When I began seeing my therapist, I was an ugly, unromantic mess. I said, “I can’t imagine myself not having depression.” Depression was a parasite that scarred my arms, legs, and cheeks. I weighed on my few friends until they broke and left me, exhausted by my exhaustion.

Four years ago, I could have never survived my first hectic week at New York University. Though self-doubt never quite disappears, it has diminished greatly over the course of recovery, helmed by my therapist. Without her, my ship would have been smashed to bits on the reef. Without her, I would not have found the willpower to brave my way through life’s complexities and simplicities.

Living the college life with depression is precarious. Many young adults have not reached any level of self-comfort yet. Many suffer undiagnosed. This is why I urge everyone who suffers from even mild symptoms of depression and anxiety to reach out for help – be it through college or through local connections. Don’t let the stigmas of therapy and mental illnesses prevent you from getting the professional help you need and deserve.

The poster of Henri Matisse’s Goldfish on my dorm room wall is a reminder that therapy can (and already has) helped me thrive during the overwhelming college experience. These days have the potential to become the most wonderful days of your life – don’t let yourself drag you down.

In a series of eight blog posts, I will discuss what I have learned throughout my journey through depression, and how I have overcome my demons. With a little advice and self-help, maybe you can, too.


 

ChristelleMarie Chua, New York University ’18

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Mental Health Matters Too

Friday, August 9th, 2013

Whenever I tell an older person that I’m still in college, the one thing they always tell me with a glint of nostalgic desperation in their voice is that I should absolutely cherish my four years. Evidently, they fly by fast and then you’re unceremoniously kicked into the fabled “Real World” your parents are always lecturing you about.

And that’s because in some sense, the stereotypes about college are true: it is really, really fun. It may not be the booze filled sex-a-thon the movies make it out to be, but the random afternoons you spend spontaneously going to Central Park and getting into an impromptu boat race on the lake while a group of Harry Potter cosplayers yell Unforgivable Curses at you are not going to be soon forgotten.

However, there is a dark side to college that most of the time is swept under the rug and never mentioned. Underneath all of the fun is an incredible amount of stress: our finances (or usually the lack thereof), our roommate troubles, our relationship aches and pains, the ups and downs of our GPAs, and all the little things that come with newfound independence. It’s basically like if someone asked Atlas to do a quick Iron Man triathlon while still holding the entire world on his shoulders. No big deal, right?

www.augustana.edu

The constant juggling gets to everyone at some point. Sometimes it’s a little thing that breaks you– one of my roommates broke down into hysterics because there was a mouse in our dorm. She had had an especially rough week, and that little mouse making her bin of sweaters into what she called his “mouse house” was the last straw for her.

Sometimes it’s a big thing that breaks you. Sometimes a person you thought you were in love with decides to call it quits. Sometimes someone in your family passes suddenly. Sometimes your health takes an unexpected turn for the worse. We don’t think about the possibility of these things happening to us because we’re young, and bad things don’t happen to young people. But they do happen, and they’re never easy to deal with.

With all these big scary possibilities of your independent life, there is one important piece of advice to remember that I happened to get from a pair of sunglasses I bought from Urban Outfitters: “It’s perfectly okay to admit that you’re not okay.” I know my cheap sunglasses weren’t the first to say it, but it rings true all the same. No one knows you better than you know you. You have to know when it’s time to pump the brakes and think about getting some help.

www.cdc.gov

I know that nobody likes admitting that they need help, especially when it comes to our mental health, something we feel like we should have some modicum of control over since, you know, it is our own brains creating the problem. But sometimes you just have to admit that you can’t handle the weight of your own thoughts, or you run the risk of letting them consume you.

Believe me, I know how it feels to be a trapped in your own mind. It took me months to admit to someone that I needed help, because I was drowning in the daily pressures of my life. First it was just one of my friends, but she suggested I try therapy as an outlet. And when I say suggested, I mean she demanded that I call the NYU health center the next day and get myself an appointment.

Some people might think she was coming on too strong with the pro-therapy message, and I did too, at first. But she had been to an NYU counselor before when she was having a hard time, and her life had improved because of it. Thus she became therapy’s biggest proponent.

And you know what? She was right. I didn’t want to go at all; I considered running for it while I was staring at the grey walls of the counseling center, waiting for my appointed therapist to usher me into his office. But after it was over, I had a feeling of relief in my chest where I had previously felt only anxiety and stress for months. It was a no-judgment zone where I could talk about how I felt to someone who didn’t know anything about me except how strongly I agreed or disagreed with the questions they had made me answer on a questionnaire. He was kind and understanding, and, as an added bonus, he had a faint Irish accent that I found very soothing.

kerimovelnur.wordpress.com

It may be stressful and out of your comfort zone to think about taking professional steps into improving your mental health, but being in college actually makes it easier for you to do so. NYU offers all of its students 10 free sessions of counseling, able to be used at any time during a student’s four years. They also have a private hotline open 24 hours a day for anyone who needs help. Every school has its own resources for its students to use; look into your school’s specific policies regarding counseling, and you’ll probably find that it will be relatively easy for you to get help.

As fiction author and very smart person John Green said, “It hurts because it mattered.” Maybe not everyone understands why something bothers you so much, but that doesn’t mean you should feel bad about feeling bad. It hurts because it mattered to you. It could be a mouse house or a bad grade on a paper, it doesn’t really matter; what does matter is whether or not you choose to help yourself and admit that you’re hurting.

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Alex Ritter, NYU.

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