As much as I put my dukes up to fight depression, I do have to credit it with giving me special insights about life that I don’t think I would otherwise have. The road to enlightenment is a challenge though and sometimes feels like a long inclined climb.
It seems to me that I’ve gone to therapy sessions in the past and the approach has been to find the specific empathetic causes for the depression I experience. I also find that in coming forward in a public way about my depression challenges, there is almost a pressure to point to horrific things that have happened so others can understand even though I don't have all the answers for myself. My own learning curve is straight up…
(Ironically, I went to a meditation class the day after I decided to leave this program, and the topic of the class was the question, “How do you know when you are doing what is right?” I’m serious - I kid you not! My answer was, “When I find more answers than questions.”)
I felt out of place in the group with eight others who were just out of hospital, each having been recently admitted for being suicidal. One young woman in particular even talked about feelings that being discharged from the hospital only days before she started the program was too early for her to leave.
The program is based in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which focuses on inaccurate or negative thinking (stinking thinking I call it) during challenging situations. The focus is to help break thinking error cycles so you don’t keep making the same mistakes and/or to free you from negativity. What I was finding hard in the program's intense approach was having to go back to the causes of my breakdown in 2010 and retell my stories. To me that felt like traumatizing myself all over again. I quickly became a hard sell on the idea that I had to delve back into all the things that I haven’t remunerated about for a very long time.
There’s been a lot of water under my bridge since then. With therapy, I’ve managed to get through a very difficult time, I’ve moved out of toxic relationships, and I returned to work where many could say I’ve operated at an executive level. (Perhaps we’ll talk more sometime about using working hard as a coping strategy.)
I do recognize cause and effect though. Specifically, I do see that because of past toxic relationships, I’ve isolated myself and am afraid to make the same mistakes again. So I do see that to an extent I have to go back and challenge the thinking errors I now carry as a result of painful past experience.
I also have a fear I need to confront. I’m beginning to fear that depression may not necessarily have to be caused by “something." Instead it may just keep coming back on its own for no apparent reason. Among a few people I know who are also challenged by depression, we call it - “The Wave.”
I find that now that I am free of an antidepressant, the question is whether or not mine is a depressive identity. I want to figure out whether depression is a dominant condition with me that features times of recovery, or am I actually healthy but sometimes become depressed? That might sound like a bit of semantics but there is a difference.
What I’m finding interesting is that I’ve never really asked these questions of myself before. It seems that to date the aim was just to get through the day, the week, the month, the year which leaves me feeling like I’ve been walking a treadmill for a long time. It’s as though I’ve been just going through the motions, but haven’t really moved forward for some time.
And these are the feelings that had me ask for a referral from the program I quit, and I received several that I’m now looking into.
The first referral is to the Ottawa Institute of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (OICBT). As it was explained to me, this is a group of doctors who were a part of the program I just left (not reflected in the bios I read on the OICBT website). I’m trying not to giggle here, but the doctors apparently left the program… to go and start their own based on the same therapy principles (CBT) but their focus is “primarily to deal with current difficulties as opposed to past events.”
This program runs once weekly for ten weeks, rather than an intense daily program for six weeks. The program is described as being an objective and structured guided process to promote self-help skills and independence. And the idea behind being less intensive is that the “focus of therapy is on the here and now and change is brought about through collaborative problem solving, with the therapist providing the structure and the client being actively engaged in identifying treatment goals.”
Something else I am also appreciating is that should I be accepted into the program, I would start with a 1.5-hour introductory session to introduce me to the CBT model of treatment. I appreciate this because I haven’t done CBT before that I’m aware of, and the program I quit felt like I was just thrown into the deep end.
Interesting but it looks like I might be about to compare a CBT program run by psychiatrists to a CBT program run by psychologists. Interesting.
I have an intake interview in the morning.