Two weeks ago, my HF and I went to our first couples therapy session. Both of us thought the experience went well and we are eager to continue as we think it will do our relationship the world of good. During that first session with Mrs O, both of us were asked to fill in two questionnaires (in the waiting room whilst the other spoke with Mrs O on their own). The first questionnaire was about our relationship, basically were we happy in our relationship, was it rewarding, or not. The second was to assess our current levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. We filled them in willingly, and I know for myself I didn’t really think about the results again.
When we walked into our next session with Mrs O, she calmly asked us to take a seat and said, “Okay, so I have your scores for the questionnaires you filled in for me last week and…” What came next was confronting, but not shocking, and I walked out of her office that afternoon feeling raw, extremely vulnerable, and just a little bit sick in my stomach. I mean, I know the last month has been a struggle, but are things really that bad? This is what transpired:
“… HF let’s start with you. You scored within the normal range for stress, normal for anxiety, and normal for depression. And the good news is, both of you scored around a 7 on the relationship scale, so it means you’re both relatively happy and on the same page in that respect. Now, TSM, for your results. You scored within the normal range for stress, within the severe range for anxiety, and the extremely severe range for depression. This is something we need to tackle head on, straight away.”
Okay, so things are obviously THAT bad! I initially felt a little numb when Mrs O said what my results indicated. It’s been 8 months since my diagnosis, surely things were getting better by now? Then she asked if these results were a surprise to me and I replied that honestly no, they were not. How could they be a surprise when I’d been feeling so crappy over the past month and at a loss to explain why? I looked over to where my HF was sitting and he was looking at me with a really sad expression on his face. It wasn’t that he was feeling sorry for me, I know that. I just think he feels so incredibly helpless to assist me in getting things back on track. And I continue to feel incredibly guilty for all the damage I’m causing our family and for not providing him with the life I know (well, I think) he desperately wants. These such feelings are the reasons why I think Mrs O’s results, at this particular time, have provided both a good and bad outcome for me.
The good outcome is that my moods now make sense (all over again). I’ve not been feeling so bad because that’s just the person I am, how I’m meant to be. I’ve been feeling bad because my depression still isn’t in check and I need to find new and different ways to deal with the dark moods when they occur. I need to work more on what my triggers are and how to recognise them. Whilst I’d felt things were improving for a good 6 months or more, something has caused a shift over recent months and it’s most definitely in my best interest to get to the bottom of what that may be. So how do I get to the bottom of it? The answer is simple… more therapy. With Mrs O’s help, the goal is to focus on my depression and anxiety over the coming months in individual therapy sessions. Mrs O firmly believes my HF and my relationship, generally speaking, is not in trouble at all. In fact, the issues we highlight as “challenging” are what every couple deals with from time to time. What’s making it more difficult for us to get over, is the influence my depressive moods are having on our ability to communicate with one another on an even playing field. Until that can happen, until the darkness can be taken out of the equation, our relationship will continue to be “hard work”. Neither my HF or I want that (obviously), so again the outcome has been good in helping us (namely, me) recognise where the initial issues lay and how best to deal with them.
The bad outcome is, as I mentioned earlier, I had thought I was past all this individual therapy business and to a point I could cope with more on my own. Whilst in my rational mind it makes perfect sense this is not the case, I still feel like I’ve failed on some level. I know, I know… this is my irrational mind, the depression talking. That evil monster getting into my thoughts again making me feel hopeless and worthless, as though I can’t do anything right. And even though I know individual therapy is going to help me with this monster, there still remains a part of me that desperately wants to be capable again. Wants to wake of a morning knowing that today is going to be a great day. Wants to hold my HF’s hand and smile up at him because he is my world and I can’t live without him. Such thoughts still feel so far away, so I guess the answer for me is to get back to the basics of what my PND has taught me so far. I need to take each day as it comes and allow myself the freedom of giving myself a break from all of the expectations I pile upon myself (a common thread here?). I need to break my day down into the smallest, most manageable pieces I can in order to deal with whatever is happening – be that by the hour, the minute, the second, the milli-second. I need to understand that whatever my thoughts are in this moment can be changed and I have the power to do that within myself. But mostly, I need to give myself time… After all, time heals all wounds, right?
So, walking out of Mrs O’s office with my HF I felt vulnerable and raw and knew that I couldn’t talk about what was happening within me right then. I explained this to my HF and he, as usual, didn’t press me further. We’ve spoken more about things since and our date nights are set to become a regular occurrence (twice monthly) in our schedule. It’s important we keep talking about how my depression is effecting us, and our date nights allow us to do that as adults and in a way that makes us mean something special to one another again. I know I will make the effort to learn new strategies in order to overcome this depression because I not only owe it to myself to be the very best person I can possibly be, but I also owe it to my family. I owe it to them more than anything else in the world.
Thanks as always, and I look forward to sharing more with you soon.