...I continued going to therapy once a week. I found it very difficult at times. She asked me hard questions, questions I couldn't answer. She prescribed journaling , she wanted me to keep it with me at all times and to just write whatever was in my head. She also gave me many assignments that I found difficult; recalling first good and bad memories, recalling when I did something good that deserved merit. I found that doing these exercises didn't help me all that much.
I soon discovered that I had entirely unrealistic expectations of myself, that I didn't know where they came from. I have always seemed to have high self-esteem. All through school growing up when I was teased I would brush it off or completely ignore it. (I learned a thing or two growing up with brothers.) I didn't ever care what anyone else thought of me. If they hated me, thought me ugly, that was their problem, not mine. I didn't suffer from peer pressure, I didn't have to keep up with societal trends. I was my own person, the world be damned. What I discovered is I am entirely too hard on myself. I had lofty expectations that
I could never meet. So I constantly put myself down. I was filled with "negative self talk." At one point I was told to wear a rubber band and snap myself every time I thought or said something negative about myself. Yeah, not so much.
I also discovered this wasn't the first bought of depression I suffered. I was able to clearly identify periods in my life where I was depressed. Those 2 months in college (I remember the winter Olympics were going on.) I distinctly remember riding in the car around town and wanting to open the door while it was moving and jump out. When I graduated from college during a huge slump in the economy and couldn't find a job. I did some seriously destructive things during that time. Soon after I was married. My husband was working night shifts because he was having difficulty finding a job in his degree field. He would leave for work before I got home from work. I would come home and lie on the couch flipping through channels until about midnight when I would get up to go to bed. I wouldn't cook dinner for myself, what was the point. And I couldn't tell him how unhappy I was because I knew he already felt bad himself. (I did tell him about it much later when we learned to communicate better.) I remember at one point taking my wedding ring off and throwing it across the room. He got up and started to walk out on me.
So now that I knew this had been a recurrent problem, I knew that I was going to overcome it. I was not going to let this define me as a person. Now that I was discovering what some of my problems were and where they came from I knew more what I needed to do.
First, I needed to stop the medication. In replacement of my constant anxiety I became completely apathetic. I didn't worry about anything anymore because I found myself just not caring about anything. I felt numb and I didn't like it. I also suffered other annoying side effects that I didn't want to deal with anymore. I firmly told both my doctor and my counselor that I wanted to ween off the medication. They both agreed with my judgment and allowed me to come off. What an exciting time that was! After completely coming off the medication, I felt like I was constantly hit with low-grade electrical shock especially when I was tired. I would get sudden spells of dizziness and feel off balance. When all of this finally went away, I was a happy person.
My next job was to let go the "rules" I had put in place for my life. I needed to stop with the unrealistic expectations and just live my life as best I could. I needed to stop expecting myself to be so perfect.
The whole journey has been difficult, but now that I know what I am dealing with, I am able to face it head on rather that piling it all up in the back of my head somewhere. I still have difficult days when the darkness overwhelms me, but those days are fewer and much farther between.