Last year, I wrote an article about depression and in it, I opened up about my diagnoses, complex trauma comorbid with depression. So many things have happened in this past year. I got better for a while then I fell into another depression mode for months, before I finally sought a psychiatrist’s help once again. I couldn’t feel happy, only emptiness came from within and surrounding me. I binge-watched and binge-read romance novels. I stayed in bed most of the day, except when I had to work.
Thankfully, with a new medication regimen, I feel better and, finally, I can feel emotion and the need to achieve something. I am not empty inside anymore. That leads me to a little reflection time about what has happened with me for the past five years.
I’ve been having depression since adolescent, but these past five years have been the hardest period of my life. I’ve had two relapses since 2014, and I’ve perfected the idea of suicide once. I didn’t get the chance to end my life, thanks to the support of my friends, both online and offline. I got into therapy, first with a psychologist who specializes in trauma work, then when the suicidal ideation grew severe, I went to a psychiatrist.
From that experience, I learned that the illness doesn’t just go away like any other illness. Sometimes it comes back after therapy; other times it returns months, even years after you feel well. In an article on the New York Times, a writer talks about having a family with depression. Depression resembles cancer, she says, just when you thought it has gone away, it comes back.
The healing process in mental illnesses therapy, especially in the case of depression and trauma, is not linear. Your condition doesn’t just go up and down, but also forward and backward sometimes.
It is also messy. With most other physical illnesses, the healing journey is clean, but not with mental illness. With depression or trauma, sometimes you look strong, but one single tiny trigger can cause you to fall apart. People close to you might not understand the reason you behave like that, and most of the time it is exhausting to explain it over and over again.
Depression and trauma, unlike most other illnesses, also affect those around you, especially those whom you interact with every day. It will affect your future children. If you are not aware of your action, you will just repeat actions that have hurt you and cause you to hurt your family and children.
And that is why you need therapy. Therapy helps you see things clearly to unravel the tangled yard, to observe the past from the present moment. It helps you to work with yourself, to find your core which has been covered by the rubble of trauma and depression. Therapy helps you heal the past, present, and the future. Like everybody in this field say, “Heal now, so you can heal the future.”
Do not be afraid to go into therapy. Yes, I know, it is frightening to open up to a stranger. Not to mention to find the right therapist that meets our need. Do a little research; ask questions on social media to find recommendations from people who have gone into therapy or know someone that meet your needs. Find resources that let you use the national health insurance (BPJS) to cover the fee. And start healing.
Remember, healing is not a linear process. However, once you start it, you are on the right track. Although the path is winding and steep, you are on the right track because you are healing.
Heal now, so you can heal future generation. So, when you finally interact with your children, your student, your co-worker, you will not repeat the same actions that hurt you in the past. So when you see others’ behavior, instead of being judgmental, you become more compassionate.
As psychologist and founder of Into the Light Indonesia, Benny Prawira Siauw, said, “Heal, so we can break the toxic cycle. Heal, so we can declare that hope is real. Heal, as we are part of the world and if we want to make it better, we should start from ourselves.”