Circus Rambles - On a deadline for being better

I haven't said much recently. It might be because I'm not really sure whether I'm doing well or not. To put that into context, I have to explain a recent therapy session of mine. Basically, my therapist will no longer be taking my insurance after December 31, and thus I will have to stop seeing her.

I certainly don't and couldn't bear my therapist any ill will for this, and I'm grateful that she told me so far in advance. I'm grateful we have time to plan for this. In contrast, the therapist I was seeing before her told me at the very end of our session that she was going to be out of the office for three weeks starting now, and that was the tipping point that spurred me to start looking for someone else. I've always had a little trouble adapting to change, but time can't hurt.

But it feels like I'm having a deadline imposed on me. "You have to be better by this date, and if you're not, well, too bad, because your insurance doesn't pay for this anymore." I've always had a little trouble with deadlines too. And I really, really have no idea if I'm better, or if I will be better by the end of the year. It's been so long since I've been mentally healthy that I have no point of comparison. I don't know what "better" looks like. I feel less sad. I don't get as anxious in the outside world anymore. I have changed in some ways. But does that mean I'm better? What if I just think I am and I'm really not? What if I really am but then I get worse?

I've asked her at least once if I'm better, and she's avoided giving me a straight answer. I think she wants me to figure it out for myself. And that's the thing; I don't know how to.

Funnily enough, I frequently get told by therapists that I'm very self-aware. And yet I can't answer this question. Maybe I'm just too biased against myself to really see it correctly.

I guess it sort of feels like one day, you're supposed to reach a point where you're just...better. And you know you're better. Like getting over a cold or something. You don't really doubt that, right? At some point the symptoms are gone and you're like, "Cool, I'm better." And I'm not reaching that point, or I can't tell if I am or not. It reminds me of how it also feels like one day you're supposed to just realize what you want to do with your life and/or how to be an adult, and I just never got that realization. I know objectively that none of this is that simple and that mental health is a lot more complicated than taking some cold medicine and starting to feel unambiguously better (although there is no shortage of that, I'm sure). But it just feels like I'm supposed to know all of this and get all of this right on the first try and I really honestly don't.

I probably am less depressed than I used to be. I've noticed that internally, I define myself more by my PTSD than I do my persistent depressive disorder or my social anxiety disorder. I don't know if that's necessarily an improvement, but I do think it's a sign that something has changed. And I'm able to tell myself, "Hey, it is perfectly fine that you didn't want to be treated badly in a relationship. It sucks. Everything sucks. But you're not wrong for not wanting to be treated like shit." So that's probably an improvement. I think.

It kind of makes me wonder what would have happened if I'd gotten the right help back when I needed it, instead of getting it so late in the game. But I didn't know to seek out a therapist who specialized in trauma at first. I just looked for the ones I could afford. The ones who would take me. Eventually, after a whole bunch of different traumas built up for years, I did find the right kind of therapist and it helped out a lot. It does help out a lot. It makes me wonder if things could have gone a different way. Although I know I shouldn't dwell on "shoulds" or "coulds" too much.

I just feel...tired. Old, even though I'm not old. I feel like I've been doing this long enough that I should know how to figure it out. I don't think I do. Hopefully I can get there soon.

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