I repeatedly quit treatment before committing to it.
At age nineteen, I was diagnosed with moderate depression and advised medication. I refused and went for psychotherapy instead. I quit after two or three sessions and went back to life hoping the illness would take care of itself. Within a year, I was found to be suffering from severe depression and was in no condition to continue studies or work. I started taking medication and in a few months began psychotherapy. My health kept deteriorating and I stopped all treatment abruptly after fifteen months. Within months, I sought help again, this time beyond severely depressed.
I have continued this treatment for 13 years, and still go for appointments regularly. I have healed enough to require less medication and less frequent therapy sessions. I have added layers to my life which I didn’t think possible 13 years ago. But, I continue treatment without shame. It helps me stay integrated, committed to life and to getting through the toughest of times without giving up.
This is not to say that everyone will need medication and therapy for this long. But one has to commit to treatment with the appreciation that the process is slow and organic. To rush it would be to waste time, money and effort.
I takes time to heal, not just seem to heal, but really heal. Rehabilitation in any chronic illness is like painting a forest. No two trees look the same, no branches the same brown, no leaves the same green, and no rays of sun the same yellow. You have to go at it bit by bit, breathing life into the forest. This requires patience and hard work from you and the mental health professionals treating you.
Just like it takes long for someone to realise they might be suffering, once they seek help and if diagnosed, it takes long to understand how they are responding to treatment. There are so many gaps to fill. When I felt I was healing, I would actually be sitting on a volcano of pain and there would be so much more to unpack…and when I felt I was in the middle of a storm and trapped forever, my doctor and therapist would show me how far I have come from where I started. There are still times that I get to the point of surrendering because I get so tired, but I have never not shown up for my appointments.
These 13 years would have been so much harder had I not put in the time and effort. I have built a life with a chronic illness that could easily have pushed me to give up the gift of life. By myself, I couldn’t even begin to understand what was going on with me. Just like if I broke a bone today, I wouldn’t know what to do but seek treatment. Mental illness is no different.
Written by Nishtha Singhal
PS: Team ManoShala wishes you a very Happy Birthday Nishtha! We are so glad and thankful to you for writing such wonderful blogs for us for over a year now. We love your content and how you put your words together that explain about your mental health journey so well. We hope you have an amazing year ahead, full of joy and growth.