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They Don't Call It Hard Work For Nothing
When the going gets tough, the tough get going. At least, that’s how the saying goes. Through all the hard times in my life, and I’ve had a few, getting going has proved far more difficult than the simply worded proverb implies. I’ve always needed extra effort to bounce back from setbacks in my life.
My depression is no different.
Depressive thought has been a part of my life since the fifth grade, but after my mom’s divorce from her partner of 11 years,
I was recommended for Prozac in response to the additional stress. My mom was worried, and protested against the medicine, but I for one was ecstatic. Well, as ecstatic as one could be while clinically depressed. For me, those pills represented an easy solution to my problems. After so many years of confusion and worry and suffering, I felt like I was finally being shown the light.
Twenty-four hours after my first dose, as my body alternated between fevers and chills from an intense allergic reaction, I realized that my happy ending wouldn’t come so easily. I wasn’t angry or sad, but instead defeated, unsure, lost. With my faith in a quick fix dashed, I resigned myself to fight the illness alone. But as the months passed and my condition reached a critical point, I was finally convinced that I needed help.
At first, I balked at my mother’s idea of a therapist. My previous therapist had been as inattentive and unprofessional as one could be while remaining employed. Pages of biographies and testimonials and price ranges later, I finally settled on a man named Jeff. An appointment was set for the next week, but my breath was far from bated in anticipation. The list of accomplishments and degrees next to his name left me entirely unconvinced. I prepared for the worst and expected it, too.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. From the first session, I knew this man was different. We connected intellectually, and he drew problems from me I wasn’t aware I had. Somehow, he was able to make heads and tails of my tearful ramblings and get to the root of my deepest held issues. It seemed that I had an endless supply of personal baggage to explore. But as long as my mom had the money, he had the time, patience and expertise to help me sort through it all.
Three months later, I took my usual spot in the waiting room outside his office. This particular meeting had snuck up on me, so I didn’t have anything prepared to say. I picked up an outdated People magazine from the table, absentmindedly flipping the pages as I racked my brain in search of this session’s topic.
I had nothing to say.
Until then, I had taken my life day by day. All of my time was spent just trying to survive my illness. It wasn’t until then that moment that I started to look back on all that I had been able to do. Bearing my heart on a bi-monthly basis was taxing at best, but I couldn’t deny its effects. As much as I wanted to stop and quit and cut my losses before it got too painful, I stuck with it and was better for it.
I was jarred from my reverie when Jeff called me into his office. Seats were taken, greetings exchanged and payment made. After my mom left the room, Jeff leaned back in his chair and gave a small smile.
“And how are you feeling today?”
“I feel… fine.”
And for the first time in years, I was telling the truth.