I guess I'm trying to determine what being "well" is like for me. What does it mean to move past the point of expecting to relapse into depression at any moment. To move past living on the edge of an emotional cliff. To move past being depressed.
I know a little of what it doesn't mean. It doesn't mean that I can't feel depressed or even be depressed at any given moment. It sure doesn't mean I don't continue to fight anxiety.
I think I know a little of what it does mean. It does mean that my life focus is... (drum roll or trumpets please) ... no longer consumed by desperately trying to secure emotional health or something closer to it.
It means that my gut desire to keep working full time while taking two classes might have actually worked - I've now changed my status at work to being willing to go back to full time, though, for now, we're sticking to the three quarter time we had planned.
It means that driving to the neighboring state to see my OCD-specialized counselor is becoming a nuisance. Can you believe it? I was so willing to make that trip for three years straight. But now? I want that one evening a week back. I want to be able to work on schoolwork or get with friends or (perhaps most likely) randomly shop or watch TV.
So... I just saw my counselor and told her I was ready to drop down to seeing her once a month. And in the back of my mind is the plan to follow my next visit with a two-month gap and then a three month gap. And my Psychiatrist? How about twice a year? And I'm fine with it. I know what I think. I know what I want. I'm okay with myself. I'm happy with life.
The anxiety still plays in, but it doesn't rock my whole world anymore, at least not for long. I guess it still upsets me pretty much every day, but I feel like I know how to handle it. I don't feel like I need my counselor to handle it. She taught me how. Now I just use the tools I'm ready to use when I'm ready. So I guess if I let her, she could still push me towards speeding up my exposures. But I don't like to be pushed. I like to do it when I'm ready.
So now, I don't feel like writing about my mental health journey as often, because I'm out in the sunshine on pretty stable ground. I'm trying to learn the new balance of Support Group attendance and moving on. Because sometimes support groups remind me of things I'd rather put behind me. I guess I'm finally "that person" that I disliked and couldn't understand who would actually try to put their mental illness experience behind them and act like it never happened.
I don't want to act like it never happened. Hey, the fight took three years of my life. I want to be a more understanding and less judgmental person. I want to support others when they slog through the mess of depression. I guess what I'm not sure how to do, though, is be there for them without slipping into the mess myself. In other words, I guess I'm still afraid I could relapse at any moment back into the mud pit of depression.
Oh, and in case someone is like I probably would have been a year or two or for sure three years ago, in case someone is afraid to blog, or to comment on my blog lest they "get me down," please don't worry about that. Because when I blog, I can choose what I read. And I can choose whether or not to read comments. And I know that blogging about mental illness and mental health means that sometimes I'll see and hear other people's stories when they are still lost in the black part of the journey. That is a "risk" I'll take. Or perhaps more of a privilege that I'll accept. And I'm so grateful for everyone who did that for me and who may end up doing it for me again.
I guess I almost feel lost because, at least when I was feeling a little bit terrible, I felt like I "belonged" at mental health support groups. And now? I'm one of those inconceivable people who actually finds their life relatively pleasant, who isn't trapped under the inexplicable fog of depression.