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.
(for part 2 click here)
PART III: THERAPY
At my post-surgery doctor appointment, the subject of physical therapy was brought up. I needed to get off the crutches and start walking on it. I needed physical therapy. It was my next step of recovery. I forget how long I ended up going, I just remember it was 40USD a session after insurance. (I also remember paying for the whole operation.) I went to it 1-2 times a week. A profession physical therapist, in a room full of gym equipment, led me through it. He (sometimes a she) taught me how to walk; put me on a bike, so I could slowly get my range of motion back; had me bend my knee a little more each time (past the point where it was painful), and then gave me a bag of ice. I iced my knee a lot during physical therapy. My strength was being restored, but it was not without pain.
After my marathon and getting a little more emotionally settled about things, I proceeded to keep moving forward with myself. I had been handed rest, and I needed to stop rejecting it and feeling dejected if things were ever going to change. During Chinese New Year, I emailed my counselor (the same one I had seen before) and told her I would like to start meeting again. We set up a weekly time. My friend Jamie went with me to my sessions. It was so hard and painful at first to be back in counseling. My counselor forced me out of certain mental habits that had become so comfortable during depression, trains of thought I had stopped questioning, no matter how wrong they were. She showed me things I didn’t know were there inside of me, and at the end of every session, I found myself pushed to the point of pain I hadn’t every really felt before. It was the pain of being restored.
During physical therapy sessions, I would literally walk laps around the room as my therapist corrected my gait and my step, making sure I was using my limbs properly. I had been walking since the age of 2, and here I was, 21 years old, learning how to walk again. I started walking all the time around campus, and once I got my range of motion back (meaning I could go all the way around on the bike) I started biking all the time. Sitting cross-legged was literally a dream that I had to work for, so I kept bending and icing my knee. I still had a few months to go before I could start running again, a date (Aug 13, I think) that I had tucked away in my mind as an extremely significant day for myself.
As I made more progress, my counseling sessions became more and more more productive. I would bring things to the table and end up leaving them there, because it was all garbage anyway. I was literally cleaning out my mind. I was learning how to feel again. My emotional strength was coming back, and I realized I needed to do more emotional exercises if I really wanted to be an emotionally fit person. I was so out of whack before, completely out of balance. I was learning how to enter and maintain emotional stability. Everything inside of me was changing. I was getting better.
After I was given the clear to stop going to physical therapy (with clear instructions on how to keep it up, of course), I continued going on walk on a daily basis. I got up early 3 times a week and went biking. It was springtime, so the snow was melting and the sun was shining and it was just beautiful to be outside anyway. My speed and mobility were coming back; and I realized if I wanted to keep my body strong, I needed to keep exercising. That summer, I lived and worked in Canon Beach, Oregon. When I hit that 6-month-post-surgery mark, I celebrated by running on the beach for the very first time. The first 15 minutes wiped me out, but I kept running all summer; and hey, I’ve run a marathon since.
I knew things were really different when I started reaching out again, reaching out freely, with no expectation, just doing it from the love in my heart, from God’s endless love. Now that I had been emotionally re-aligned, I could step into a season of deeper spirituality. I could hear God so much more clearly than before. And that’s exactly what happened the week after I stopped going to counseling. It had been two months of incredible guidance and restoration, and I felt it was time to take a break and see how I did. Put my new emotional self to the test. My first week out of counseling was actually really hard. I had moments of doubt and near-breakdowns and wondered if I really should go on medication. But then God spoke to me, and I could hear Him. I received His Words. I felt them change me. And that’s when I realized how depression had turned my emotions into a barricade keeping me from truth. My emotions no longer keep me from the truth; they allow me to feel the truth. I can an access God THROUGH happiness, sadness, and anger. Emotions are the language of the heart, a language I had finally learned.