Dear Alice,

I finished therapy yesterday! I never thought I’d be the person to have to go to a partial hospitalization program, but I did and I am better for it. I learned a lot (as mentioned in my previous letter) and I am still learning. I think the greatest thing I got from therapy was time to think. I really, really needed time to just think and process all that had been done to me and that had happened to me.

Now that I’m in this in-between time of post-therapy pre-returning-to-work, I start to think about recovery. I know I have to keep up with my meds (which now have a higher dosage) and I have a follow up appointment with TWO psychiatrists so I can get different opinions on what’s going on with my head, but I have to think about other things to do to cope with my depression and anxiety, as well as keep my mind and body healthy.

I think I might start taking walks. Now that I have more energy in the mornings due to reduced stress, I might be able to take a walk every now and then to get myself moving. I always hear that exercise is good for the mind, and I have to admit that I was happier when I was exercising. Sure, I did it for the wrong reasons, but I did feel better when I was doing it. I know I don’t have to do a lot, just about 10 minutes of exercise a day would be good for me, but it’s hard to start. I think that’s the hardest part.

Another thing that I might start doing is practicing being grateful. Many times during therapy we were told that Depression is obsession with things that happened in the past and Anxiety is obsession with things that will happen in the future. I have to learn that I cannot change my past and I can’t control my future, all I can do is focus on the now. My counselor also mentioned that I need to acknowledge feelings and thoughts as what they are, not as crazy hypotheticals. If I allow my mind to wander in the hypotheticals, I can get lost in them, thinking of things that never happened or things that aren’t true.

Mental illness, I’ve noticed, has a lot to do with what is true and what is not true. I hesitate to use the word “fake” as things can be true and fake and not true and real. My thought are real but they are not true. To dwell on things that are untrue only leads me further down the path of despair, so I think I need to focus on things that are true and be grateful for the things that are good.

To be honest, this sounds a lot like what Paul told the Philippians. “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” I have to focus on what is true about my feelings and my situation rather than what is not true. Example: I feel scared, I feel hopeful, I feel anxious. All are true, and all are being felt right now, but they are not who I am. I am not anxious, I am now scared, I am not hopeful, I simply feel these things.

Things are looking up, dear friend. I hope to find a path forward soon, but in the meantime, I think I’ll stay in the dark for a bit while longer.



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