I’m not just talking about seeing a shrink in that title. I’m talking about the whole process, beginning to end. Like starting at the first episode you had when it felt like all happiness was officially sucked out of life to the moment when you’re actually emotionally sustaining and motivating yourself again and don’t feel like hiding at a party.
PART I: SURGERY
This process is actually very similar to physical therapy. I tore my ACL back in college. The worst part of the whole thing was the time between the doctor saying, “You’re ACL is completely torn,” and the actual surgery. During this wait period, there was a lot of pain. I really couldn’t use my leg, so activity and normal mobility weren’t a luxury. Just a lot of waiting. And icing. And waiting.
I remember when I googled depression. I read through symptoms and diagnoses; it was like looking at a mirror, quite honestly. I didn’t really know what to do or say, so I just told a friend about it. It was kind of a point of relief to have an explanation, but it was also scary. I didn’t know what to do, what was going to happen. I just knew how I felt. Many months went by before I actual sought professional help through counseling. And those extremely rough and dark months for me.
Finally, surgery day came. It was my first time to go under the needle, so there was an appropriate amount of apprehension running through my blood. My best friend and her (then) boyfriend drove me to the hospital. The friend I was going to be staying with for a week would be waiting for me on other side of operation. I was taking a post-surgery vacation: a week off from school to recover OFF-campus.
I didn’t start going to counseling until the school year ended. Then it was summer vacation and I was left with nothing but time. I went for 4 weeks my first round, at the end of which I experienced a break in the clouds; it felt like all the depression had been lifted. I was myself again. But then something else happened that put my current emotional state to the test. It was OK at first but progressively got worse and worse; in fact things inside myself had reached a point where I was completely isolating myself and couldn’t even bring myself to any sort of function with people. My self-esteem had dropped, and I had become rather dysfunctional and extremely unstable. It was time for a break. It was time to go home. So I left Taiwan and went to America for 6 weeks.
There are two things I remember about my surgery: the doctor telling me he would have me back in the mosh pit in no time (yes, I tore my ACL at a concert, but that’s a different story for a different time) and waking up with peanut butter toast being waved in front of my face. As far as what I experienced, NOT A LOT HAPPENED. I felt completely different; that is, I couldn’t feel my butt. And I was completely groggy and a little bit confused. But whether I felt it or not, something huge had happened inside of my body. A precise and intricate operation had taken place that was going to change every thing.
Not a lot happened when I was home. I did get to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s with my family, which hadn’t happened in four years. I only saw a few friends; the holidays are a crazy busy time for everyone, and when you’re depressed, planning a party or get-together for everyone to fit in their schedule is the last thing on your mind. I tried talking about stuff, but I didn’t feel like any thing came out right, and I didn’t feel like I was understood. So it was hard to connect, even with my parents, between episodes I would have in the house and marathon training. Being home was a healthy change of pace – no work, no ministry, no responsibility, no stress – and although I didn’t notice anything significant, this 6-week break was preparing me for the next step of recovery.
(for part 2, click here)