Friday, August 12, 2016

Checks and balances.

It's been a busy past few weeks. Well, it's been a busy summer, especially considering that last summer I could barely even get out of bed. I finally finished my second summer class this past weekend, which really ended with a bang, finishing with the professor giving us an online quiz from a completely different class without realizing it. (That took a few years off of my life...)

Of course, there was also that mental health conference I attended. And the paper I wrote. And the library trips for said paper. And the coffee house I performed at while trying to write said paper. And the one-hour meeting that turned into six...

It's been overwhelming, even since I finished class, but I have been learning a lot. I've been struggling, but I also notice that I'm just generally happier than I've ever been. It's good to have things to do and the energy to do them, just maybe I've overstepped the line a little and taken on a few too many things in recent weeks. But that's part of the process of learning to find your balance.

I found out about a month ago that my counselor will be leaving the practice I attend, for reasons I'm not allowed to know, which is frustrating but probably related to the whole idea of counselor/client divide. It's starting to sink in that this person who has become a huge part of my life in the past year and has grown very dear to my heart will be leaving my life in less than a month. I've had people drift out of my life, but rarely have I had people leave in a definite, foretold way. 

On the plus side, I think this will push me to reevaluate my counseling needs now that I'm in a new phase of my life. Maybe I need something more targeted at certain areas of weakness and more directive. I definitely need to learn more mindfulness and coping techniques. There are some areas of my life that I've left untouched in counseling. It's time to look at them. Some things I haven't given myself permission to talk about before, some I didn't realize you could talk about in counseling, like how to make decisions. 

On the negative side, I'm going to really miss this woman. I don't think I'll realize until she's gone. She has been my safe haven and helped me navigate a really tough time. Really tough is an understatement. I was so stressed out when my psychiatrist kept insisting I needed to see a counselor after I withdrew from school last summer. I didn't have a lot of faith in counseling any more because my previous therapist had not been particularly helpful, even at times unintentionally hurtful. And my psychiatrist, of course, was awful. This counselor helped me rebuild my trust in the abilities of mental health care. It took a long time, but I now see that counseling has made huge changes in me this past year. But you've got to have someone good and someone you feel comfortable with. But I'm still scared that I won't be able to find another safe space to share and grow. I know that there are many mediocre, even bad counselors out there who make you feel ashamed, cornered, confused. I know it takes a lot of work to build that understanding and to get that person to know who you are. What if I can't find someone who gets me? 

But at the same time, I realize that I'm a lot stronger and more aware than when I started counseling. I know what to look for, I know when to run. I have built the strength and self-respect to stand up for myself and put my needs first when appropriate.

The other thing that's been weighing on me is a particular friendship that I just can't figure out whether it's worth fighting for or just too frustrating and disappointing. Am I appreciated in this relationship or just tolerated? In recent weeks (and years), a lot of my "friendships" and social interactions have left me feeling more like a burden than a blessing. My friends made me feel like I was annoying, immature, bothersome, and not worthy of attention. I realized lately that I kind of came to accept that that is just what friendship is like. But I'm holding out for hope that maybe there is something better, and I've started to see with some new friendships forming here back home that maybe there are people who care about me and it's not a reflection on my character that certain people I used to know didn't appreciate me. 

I continue to be amazed by the friendships that have reignited with old acquaintances out of the blue since I returned home, all of them surprisingly meaningful and genuine, below the small-talk surface-level that many friendships get stuck at. Meanwhile, I've gradually realized that all of my relationships with people from my old school are pretty hollow now, though the majority of them were really only half-full when I was there, depending how you looked at it. 

This one friendship from my previous school has been hard to let go of, however. I tried for a while, but I realized that I missed this friend. We had some great jokes and conversations and ideas we shared. She is intelligent and funny and taught me a lot. But she has her faults, and our friendship had its share of weaknesses and frustrations, mainly stemming from my frustration with her obsession with another set of friends of hers as well as her not doing much to acknowledge my huge struggle with depression at the time. 

She's still obsessed with some of those friends and still hangs on to our old school even though she has graduated. She is obsessed with a boy who does not have feelings for her and gives him her attention more than me even though she says she's a feminist.  She was one of those who never responded when I left school, and recently I realized that she never asked me if I was better or what happened or how things are now. I don't think really anyone has asked me that, as far as I remember. I don't think many people know that it turned out the medication was making me worse. Because no one asked. 

That hurt to realize.

The Olympics can be hard because you feel so lame and undecorated and unaccomplished. You realize that nobody recognizes you or celebrates your accomplishments. But lately I've been growing more content with my life out of the spotlight, unappreciated. Normal. Not famous. I've come such a long way, I am living my dreams, even if I'm not acting in a movie like I fantasized about at age nineteen. 

I'm becoming a strong woman who works hard, gives back, and loves fully. That is more than enough. That is what leaves you satisfied, not circles of yellow metal hanging on fabric.

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