I have three months left until the worst birthday I will ever have throws me into the world of either no health care or this new “just die so we don’t have to listen to your screams” act. Putting off finding a therapist has only hurt myself, as I see now, but I have always tried to figure out coping mechanisms on my own. I will not go into too much detail of my distaste for therapy, but knowing that I was forced into medication for depression alongside six moths of therapy at the age of 17 is sufficient enough. Since that time, I have not been able to look at the whole talking to a stranger about my self-sabotaging decisions coerced by my brain riddled with known trauma, buried deep shit that I have decided did not happen to me, piss poor serotonin levels, and horribly shattered friend-making skills.
Three rejections from over-booked therapists later, and I find it easy to slide into the “fuck this shit” sleeping bag that is actually my bed. I know it sounds ridiculous to bitch about rejection that is completely reasonable; they literally don’t have the room or time for me. I am not mad at them, although my first instinct was to analyze my new patient request email and figure out what I said that was off-putting enough to end three rejection emails with “but good luck!”. Focusing on my bank account that could have its own therapist along with the padded walls that are my girlfriend and dog, I will have to get by without expensive head-nods and life homework, and I will be able to.
I am worried, though, about the people who don’t have the luxury of walking around with chronic sad face only to be attacked by hearts and smiles that force you to reconsider permanently setting up a home in that bathroom of venues that provide weekly “emo nights”. I am worried about those people because if I were to subtract two humans from my life, that would be me. Paycheck to paycheck is a very real way that people are living their lives, and I could be just a particularly lonely person, but I feel like many could be living off “Compliment to Compliment” or “How are you? to How are you?” or god forbid, “Like to Like”. Shit is scarce out here.
To be honest, I know what it is like to be the kind of “go-to” for people who are having a really hard time with life. It can be tiring to remind other people that everything is going to be alright when you are dealing with your own experience of job loss, poverty, break-up, death of a loved one, etc. Sometimes, it can be uncomfortable to become invested in another person’s life in such a fragile way, and I don’t believe anyone should be guilted into doing so – especially if this is not part for their personality, it wouldn’t be helpful for either party. There is hope, though. Recently, I went to a professional development that deals with secondary trauma, an inevitability that surfaces when working with children/adults who experience community, family, and/or personal trauma.
That space, made for understanding how to handle another person’s trauma without letting it take over your own life in ways of depression, anger, lethargy, violence, etc., was truly something I have never unlocked before. It was like being in the room of requirement for healing. Like, what?? Holy shit! I was able to learn so much about taking care of myself and other people in forty-five minutes in a room full of people that shared their own stories without any particularly lengthy testimonies or mic-hogging. This workshop was a priority at our school because there was an opportunity to self-reflect as a community and there are leaders that care about how our day-to-day work negatively affected us.
With these community spaces of sharing, there is not one particular person that gets pegged with taking care of everybody. There is not a fee. There is not one story. There are more experienced testimonies that shed light on “non-therapist” style tips on becoming a healthier and happier human. Right now, the kind of iffy show ’13 reasons why’, this weird Logic song that has actually pissed me off because off how genuinely terrible I find it to be, video clips here and there that deal with suicide, and that hotline number are the resources we have to help a person that is thinking about ending it all. That is, at least, for people who are not already set up with a therapist, psychiatrist, mental health care plan, what have you. It doesn’t have to be this way!
Sometimes, I don’t want to re-hash my somewhat dicey life experiences with someone who is writing them down and searing into my soul with perfectly practiced eye contact. I do not think community healing spaces would replace therapy by any means. I also know that I probably should have a therapist and so should anyone who feels they need one. I also know there are great chat room spaces for people who are dealing with mental illness. However, if J.K. Rowling taught me anything, it is people CAN thrive when given a physical space to teach each other WAYS TO RESIST. In this case, the conjuring of a patronus is giving ourselves access to happiness as we all survive a world where many dementors in the form of trauma, oppression, depression, mental illness, that have been able to fly around too freely.
P.S. My patronus is a lioness.
P.P.S. I also hope that if this happens there is dark chocolate at the meetings.
P.P.P.S. If you are not knowledgable about Harry Potter, I am sorry that much of my conclusion probably makes zero sense.