Monday, June 18, 2007

Calling for Reinforcements

The last time I saw a counselor for my depression was in the fall of 2005. This is because Dan graduated from law school and started working, so our insurance changed. The new insurance 1) didn't cover mental health providers from the center I had been going to and 2) only paid 50% of mental health care costs. I was feeling pretty good back then, so instead of finding a new counselor that would be covered by my new insurance, I just stopped going. I told myself that if I got to a point where I needed a counselor again, I would find a new one. It was kind of depressing to think of ending my relationship with my counselor, who I had explained my whole life to over a period of several years.

Well, Dan has been telling me for several weeks (or months?) now that I'm seeming more depressed than usual. He's been suggesting that I start seeing a counselor again. Although my former counselor was not LDS, and I loved her and felt great about what we accomplished together, the thought of re-educating a new counselor about my beliefs as a member of the church sounded exhausting. So I decided to spring for a Mormon. I got a recommendation from a friend in the know, and went to see my new counselor for the first time last Wednesday. We had a really good session, and decided that it would be useful for me to see her once a week for the next 4-6 weeks.

Here are some of the highlights from our talk:

1. I haven't been taking my medicine more than once or twice a week. This is equivalent to not taking it at all. Why have I not been doing this? Well, when I was pregnant with Esther, I decided to see if I could get by without taking my medicine. Perhaps because of some pregnancy-induced hormones, I felt fine, so I didn't take much of anything until she was born. That kind of got me thinking that maybe I didn't need this stuff. Since then, I haven't been very consistent, telling myself that maybe I don't need it after all. My counselor debunked this theory, pointing out that:

2. The amount of time I spend on the computer, watching t.v., and napping each day indicate that I am "self-medicating" for depression, and I might as well just take my real medicine and get back to living my life. "Self-medicating" means that I use technology or sleep to escape from my depressing thoughts. As long as I am engaged by a screen (or asleep), I can't think about my miserable life. But the more time I spend each day doing nothing, the worse I feel.

3. I talked a lot about how bad I feel for not cleaning the house. My counselor suggested that instead of telling myself that I need to clean for Dan's sake, or for the children, I could try thinking about cleaning as a gift to myself, a gift of clarity of thought, of peace, which I feel when the house is clean. I find that when the kitchen table is clean, or the living room is clean, I feel much more peaceful, and it is easier to think good thoughts and accomplish things. Ideas flow more freely, and I feel more hopeful.

4. We talked about me getting a job. I have talked with counselors about this in the past, and Dan brings it up from time to time. I want to work instead of stay home, but I'm afraid to trust my desire, for fear that it is leading me astray. My counselor pointed out a couple of things in relation to this. One, because I'm depressed, I can't trust my own thinking, because it is compromised. I need revelation from God to guide my life, but it is hard for me to receive it because I am broken. I may have to get it by the dropper-full. I need to be extra aware of any random-seeming thoughts that pop into my head, and write them down if possible, because that could very well be God trying to tell me things. The other thing my counselor said is that it is hard on kids to have a depressed mother. She said that for many people, staying busy and active is just what they need to manage their depression.

Well, that's it for now. I'll try to let you know how things go this coming Wednesday.


Melinda said...

Andrea, how are things going with the new counselor?

Abbigail said...

That is really great. I especially liked the comments about the house cleaning and the self medication.