Today, only 15 minutes before I’m writing this, I’ve finished my very last therapy session for a very long time. Maybe ever.
I’ve been in therapy on and off since I was 14. I’m 22 now, 23 in a few months. So I’ve been in therapy on and off for the past 8 years. It’s crazy to think that I’ve now closed that chapter in my life. That I’m feeling good, for the most part at least. I’ve realized, with the help of my last therapist, the one I’ve just had my last session with, that I’ll probably always have moments where I’ll feel down and depressed, maybe more than a lot of other people – but of course I don’t know that – and that this is just something that I have to live with and deal with. But I can live with it now, and I’ve learned to deal with it.
Like I said, I’ve been in therapy since I was 14. It started with creative therapy. I’ve been a shy person for as long as I cam remember, and I think my high school teacher suggested to my parents that I should try out something like that to gain some self-confidence. I don’t know if it really helped me with that, but I know that I quite liked it, and it was therapeutic (duh). I finished the creative therapy at the end of the school year.
In the next school year – and, looking back on it all now, even before that – I started feeling very down. Sad. Lonely. Empty. Numb. It’s all words I used to describe what I felt. I started missing school, making excuses for why I couldn’t go (headache, stomach hurt, back hurt, whatever physical thing I could think of). But I think I admitted pretty quickly to my parents that I just felt really really bad mentally. I got lucky with my parents, neither of them is a stranger to mental illness, and my dad had been going to therapy for a while at that point I think himself for reasons that also impacted my childhood quite a bit. He started driving me to school on the days when I didn’t want to go and we talked a lot about how I was feeling. I remember so many times that he told me that I could miss the first 2 hours of school so we could walk and talk instead. I think it really helped me a lot.
Just not enough. In the fall after my 16th birthday I told my parents on a Monday that I felt sick. The next day, again, I convinced them to let me stay at home. And again the next day. I think at that point my parents figured out that I wasn’t physically not feeling well, but that I was just done mentally. I’m pretty sure my mom called school and told them I wouldn’t be coming for a while. There were lots of tears on my part in that period, I remember that. My parents and I talked a lot about what to do now, I’m pretty sure I told them I wanted to get help, so I think I first went back to my creative therapist for a while. In the meantime we also talked a lot with school, and agreed that I would try to go back in January. Although I’m pretty sure I wasn’t all that involved in that agreement.. I think I managed to go to school for all of 3 days before I stopped going again, and that was pretty much the end of my school career at that school.
To be honest, I don’t feel like “the grown-ups” really got or listened to what I felt like I needed at the time, which made the situation a lot harder for me, and also I don’t think the teachers at my school didn’t really know how to handle it all. I don’t feel like I got the help I needed from my school.
Anyways, for the remainder of the school year I didn’t go. Instead I went to therapy once a week, I think I got a coach at a sort of youth help/care organization, we worked everything out with the school attendance officer (that’s what it’s called according to google) and my parents listened to my wish to just be gone for a while. One of my dad’s high school best friends lives in California, and he has a daughter my age. They hadn’t really been in contact for a while back then, but I asked my parents if they could contact them and ask them if I could stay with them for the summer. They said yes, which I am still so grateful for, and in June 2012 I hopped on a plane to San Francisco. I lived with them for 2 months, and actually felt a little better, but in the meantime back home my parents (with my consent, don’t worry) started looking for a new school for me closer to home. When I got back in August I was registered at a new school, where they knew about my situation, and all set to redo the school year I had missed.
I think I lasted a month, maybe a little more, at the new school before I realized I wasn’t ready for it yet. Nothing in my mental situation had changed, I still felt miserable and depressed, and a different school wasn’t the solution. So I dropped out again, and that was the official end of me going to high school. I went back into therapy, this time at the GGZ (geestelijke gezondheidszorg for you Dutch people, I believe it is the government’s mental healthcare organization). I had two therapists there: one for one on one meetings, and one for family therapy with my parents. I stayed there for I think 3/4 year before we all agreed that I wasn’t getting the help I needed, and we went looking for something more “hardcore”.
After looking around for a while I ended up at a more intensive group therapy. I had to go there every day, 5 days a week. I wasn’t allowed to drink, get tattoo’s, I think there were some other rules as well. I had mostly group therapy, but also some one on one, and also – again – family therapy. I actually really liked our family therapist, but more on that later. One of the rules of the therapy was that you couldn’t have any sort of eating disorder or be messing around with your food/weight, I think because otherwise it would block you from working on your other mental problems. And, after some weighing and some talking, they decided that I was underweight and had an eating disorder, and thus had to leave.
I still don’t know I fully agree with that decision, although I did mess with my eating habits, but I feel like I started focusing on my weight and food more when other people started doing it. But I think it was ultimately a good thing, because I don’t think group therapy was the best fit for me anyways. So I had to go work on the eating disorder, which I started doing in the summer of 2014. I also started a different kind of therapy again, with one on one therapy, group therapy and family therapy. It was at the same organization as where I did the group therapy, but this was once a week/once every 2 weeks I believe. We luckily ended up with the same family therapist as before, and I think he really helped me/us a lot, but the other therapy/therapist just didn’t work for me. I didn’t click with my therapist, her way of working didn’t work for me. And I think I did – after a while – try to explain what might work for me and help me, but when you don’t click you don’t click, and it is so important that you click with your therapist, that you feel good and safe with them. They are there to help you, and if you feel like you don’t work well together they can’t help you.
I dropped out of the therapy for my eating disorder pretty quickly, because the way they worked didn’t fit with me either. Once I stopped there, my eating disorder actually kind of solved itself. I struggled with my weight for a while, but so much less than when the people around me were focusing on it. I felt like, because of the food thing, they stopped looking at the thing that I was really struggling with, my depression. Once I stopped doing the eating disorder treatment, we started focusing more on what was important for me to solve. However, like I said, I didn’t click with my therapist at all. Right around the time I started the new therapy/eating therapy thing I also met the most amazing guy, one I am still very much in love with today. Right after we got together he went to England for 7 months to work on a farm, and I travelled there every month to see him, and help on the farm as well. I loved it, the being away, the travelling, the work also wasn’t too bad. It was also very difficult being far away from each other when I was back home, especially because I also felt like I was doing therapy that didn’t even help, but I still have very good memories from that time.
Right before Gideon (the bf) came back I started a reintegration process, and I ended up working in a bookstore 2 days a week. I really liked working there, being surrounded by books, helping customers, just doing the work. But. After England Gideon and I had decided that we wanted to live together. He lived about and hour by train away from me, and with him starting school even further away we just wouldn’t see each other a lot otherwise. Also, we just wanted to live together. So in March of 2016 I moved my life to Utrecht, where we still live now. I obviously had to stop at the bookstore and the therapy that didn’t help, and look for a new therapist and new things to do near my new home. A few months after moving I found the therapist I have had my last session with today, who ultimately helped me the most, I think. She understood what I needed, how to talk and how to listen in a way that worked for me, and how to help me. In the two years that I’ve lived here I took a high school English exam and passed. I started going back to school to learn how to be a secretary, I’ve done an internship at a bank that I am almost finished with which is so bittersweet because I’ve liked it so much and learned so much, but I’m also excited to do something new.
And, the whole reason I’ve written this book that is a blog post, I’ve learned how to deal with what I feel. How to handle when I don’t feel good. How to notice the signals that my mind and body are sending, and how to understand them. It’s all good.
I don’t know why I am writing this blog post and putting my story on the internet. I just wanted to. Maybe it helped someone.
Thanks for reading ❤