I went to therapy once a week while I was in New York. For the last five years, on average once a week I sat down with a therapist, someone trained in the art of getting to the issues that are affecting me, and helping me delve through them.
I have been in Israel now for eight weeks. Eight weeks in which I have done many different things and gotten through periods of depression on my own. However, I am not stupid or naive enough to think that I don't still need therapy. At this junction though, I am going to use this blog post and future ones as my "virtual therapy" seeing as the commute from Ashdod to the VA in Northport, NY would be costly and not really feasible weekly.
In the past eight weeks, I have been able to interact and participate in daily life for the first time in five years. I live with 6 roommates in an apartment, and there are 38 other participants in the group that I am part of. I am "forced" to interact and be social every day with these people. I have a job in which I am required to interact with both adults but mainly children, and each day I am setting new boundaries for tolerant behavior. Whereas in the past, I did not have the self-control (or desire to have self-control) to do this, each day I am able to continue working with people and kids without losing my mind and making a "scene". So this is progress.
I have started exercising again, which is a physical antidepressant in and of itself. It is great, and I have lost seven pounds so far. I take my medication religiously, as always.
I am having more good days than bad, but I still suffer from debilitating bouts of depression. These get more pronounced according to my sleep cycle. There is no doubt that my sleep - both length of time and quality - affects my mood and my physical state. Unfortunately for me, I am not always vigilant enough to keep this under control.
We traveled to Jerusalem last week. I was up until 3am the night before, and had to be on the bus at 615. So on less than 3 hours of sleep, I went to Jerusalem. I was awake and walking around all day, and enjoyed the trip. When I came home, I paid for it physically, by literally falling down, and then I slept almost a day and a half straight. That is going from dangerously low amount of sleep to entirely too much sleep. And I am still paying the price for it today.
I have more "panic attacks" nowadays. I put them in quotes, because it's not like the typical panic attacks I used to have, it is physically different. I feel more physically drained, and tired. I don't have a raised heart rate, or sweat, or adrenaline, it is physically the opposite. Mentally, it is draining as well. So that's something I have been dealing with. I say more because I guess it is just a byproduct of being more active and participating in my life. I don't count the panic attacks as something I am really worried about, but definitely it is something I am monitoring.
When I am tired, especially after waking, I am a much different person. People who I enjoy being around, things I enjoy doing, bother me to no end when I am tired. I am irritable and mean and just generally a pissy person to be around, and I enjoy nothing. There seems to be such a small "window" of how much sleep is enough, versus too little sleep, or too much sleep. If I'm in this window, things are great, if I stray outside of this window, it invariably causes me problems that don't need to be there.
I felt really shitty this morning, and have yet to go into work, because I really needed to do this "therapy session." I feel a little better now after getting this out of my head, but I also acknowledge there is still more inside I need to sort through. So look for more of these "virtual therapy" sessions in the future.
Also: in case you missed it: I LOST SEVEN POUNDS SINCE COMING TO ISRAEL.