As a patient of a Psychiatric High Risk Program! So yeah… there’s that. Not exactly the acceptance letter you’d like to receive from a prestigious university or a dream job at an amazing company. But that’s where I’m at and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Which is probably why a large part of this program is centered around learning how to identify my feelings and express them to others.
I have vented my way through therapy before and have a toolbox of coping mechanisms that I refer back to time and time again. I really enjoyed the analogy I learned yesterday in my screening appointment for this new program, she said that there is a reason why therapy felt good afterwards, it was like opening a pressure release valve and releasing some of the steam in my brain. However, when that valve gets closed, and it will, the pressure builds up again. So it becomes a cycle of build up and release, but no real progress is made.
The therapy that I am about to begin has nothing to do with releasing steam from the pressure cooker. I am not going to learn about a new miraculous coping mechanism for how to deal with life. Instead, I am going to be attending brain physical therapy sessions every week. There is a muscle in my brain that needs strengthening. I cannot make connections that others can and therefore my body resorts to fight or flight mode followed by a series of self destructive behaviors in situations that most people can handle with ease.
I have been warned that these therapy sessions will be painful, and I will probably walk out of each appointment feeling worse. But just because it doesn’t feel good doesn’t mean it’s not working. I guess I look at it this way, does a triathlete show up to a race without enduring some kind of pain to prepare for it? The pain he experiences during his training ultimately helps him complete the race with more success than someone who walks up to the start line with no training. Through this painful training, he will know what to expect as he races through the course, he will know when to pace himself and when to push himself. The race will still have painful moments, but not as many as there would have been if he hadn’t trained at all. He will have developed the strength to get through the pain. This same philosophy is being applied to my brain. Therapy is the training, life is the race.
I’m curious how this year will go and I will continue to share with you all. Right now I am working on separating my identity from this mental illness that I face. I am not defined by the state of my brain, I am still Rae. But that is a hard truth to believe, especially in moments where I can feel my mental health deteriorating and I have no control of it. I don’t want to glorify this mental illness, but I don’t want to hide it in shame either. So here I am, about to start a new type of therapy and one that will hopefully change the trajectory of my life. That along with my continued walk with the Lord. He holds the future in His hands and I am so grateful for that.