Mental Health, Story Time

What Happened After I Shared About My Abusive Past | Depression | Part 3/4

And here we are with part 3. I have no idea how many parts are still left of this story but aww well. Here we are anyway. Before I begin, I just want to thank everyone for all the love and support I’ve received. I’m not going to have a long and stretched out introduction this time around. I’m just going to pick up where I left off last time.

Part Two — https://fitcouchpotato.com/2019/01/14/what-happened-after-i-shared-about-my-abusive-past-depression-part-2/

November 2018

As mentioned in the last part, in the middle of October I asked for some distance from my mother. The first two weeks, I talked about my feelings of my mother and all of the in between with my new therapist every single day. Near the end of October, my mother posted something on her Facebook page and all that anger that just started to go away came flooding back. So, I went off my Facebook, switched to my husband’s profile and unfriended her. It wasn’t like I could delete my mom from my life but I had to do something. I had to truly give myself time to heal. To let go of my anger and forgive. I don’t know how I should even begin to explain how I felt after I asked for that distance…I don’t want to say that I was relieved to have her out of my life because that sounds horrible…but the truth is a part of me did feel relieved. I was just so angry at her and once that anger dimmed away, disappointment set in. I was also just relieved that I could take this moment to just concentrate on me. Not worry about everything bad happening in her life. I didn’t have that negativity in my life anymore and that made a world of difference. So, I guess I felt relieved that I cut something negative out of my life? I missed my mom don’t get me wrong. I talked about her nearly every single day with my therapist. When something intense happened in my life, I wanted to call my mom and talk to her about it but I knew that I needed time. My therapist actually said something that really helped with this. When you’re ready to hear whatever your mom has to say, that’s when you’re ready to talk to her. She is right. When we finally have the conversation we need to have, she is also going to have things to say. She has her side of the story and I need to be prepared for that.

My mother’s birthday is in the middle of the month and I was in turmoil about it. It was a big birthday and I wanted to message her but I didn’t want to invite those negative feelings back into my life. I talked about my mother’s birthday with my therapist for the first two weeks of November. I was truly in turmoil about what I should do. When I send her that message and asked for space it was a gesture to myself that I was going to put my feelings, my mental well being first. I knew that my message hurt but I decided to put myself first. The Sunday before her birthday when my father and I had our weekly Skype he mentioned her. He has mentioned her before, almost every week since I broke off contact. In the beginning, it was nice to hear that she was seeing a therapist and truly working on herself. I was happy to hear she was doing something about it. Taking those first few steps towards change. It made me feel like my decision to put some distance between us was the right decision. That I was doing the right thing and I could let go of my guilt. In this Skype session, my father said he would send on my birthday wishes to her. I was relieved to hear this because even though the last thing I wanted to do is put my dad in between us, it also solved my inner turmoil. I would still be able to wish her a happy birthday but I wouldn’t do so by personally messaging her. I wasn’t in a good place mentally at this time. I was very low and struggling. I was in a middle of one of my darkest days (read week) yet and I could barely breathe through the depression. It was bad. Life was pretty fucking intense. On her birthday, my dad wished her happy birthday from me like he promised to do. I was relieved and put my phone away and just forced myself to get out of bed and at the very least go downstairs and be with Dankie. It was incredibly difficult to muster up the energy to get out of bed and go downstairs. It wasn’t long after my father sends her my birthday wishes that he messaged and said that he truly thought that I needed to send her a birthday message. I know this doesn’t seem like a big deal, or maybe to some it does. It was a big deal to me. I was in a very low place mentally and my father knew this. He knew why. I opened up to him about this. I set boundaries and when he didn’t respect these boundaries and pressured me into sending my mom a message, I felt betrayed. I had a long conversation about this to my therapist and she told me that I was allowed to tell my father this. Tell him that I felt that he disrespected my boundaries and I felt betrayed by this. If it wasn’t for my therapist, I would have never thought to do this but I needed to do this. If I didn’t that betrayal I felt would have build and build inside of me and in return undo all the good I was trying to do. He apologized and promised to think a little more about it in the future. He would be more sensitive and he has been.

I always preach this but nothing is going to change if you don’t take any steps to change it. My relationship with my mom would still be toxic and negative if I didn’t message her that day. My relationship with my father would suffer if he continues to make insensitive comments that hurt my feelings. I was terrified before sending these messages. I didn’t want to hurt their feelings but it needed to be said. Our relationship is stronger because of that. I did end up sending her a birthday message and like I had predicted, I had welcomed back all of those negative feelings. She didn’t say anything wrong but by opening up myself and welcoming her back into my life even for just a moment, that anger came back full force. Those negative and toxic feelings threatened to drown me. I struggled a lot to pull myself out of my depressive state. Thinking about it now, I was in a depressive state most of November. It was hard but I was getting better. My new therapist was an enormous help throughout this month. I learned a lot of techniques that I could incorporate in my depressive state to help. I learned to be gentler with myself and how, to be honest with those around me. To be open about my feelings. She also made me realize that sometimes other people’s actions towards me is not a reflection of me but instead of them. She truly helped me a lot. I’m happy I decided to give Talkspace another chance. I was convinced after my first month with them that online therapy is just not my cup of tea. Turns out it’s all about finding the right therapist for you. I did cancel my subscription within in a month but this time around it was because I felt ready. I have learned new techniques; my mindset has changed and I knew that I got this. I wasn’t in denial anymore. I had accepted that life is just going to fucking suck sometimes. I had accepted that I have depression but I knew that no matter what was thrown my way. I would somehow make it. It wouldn’t be easy but I have all the tools I need to pull myself out of it. I also wanted to take her tools that she handed me and run with it. The last thing I wanted to do is become dependent on her.

November was a big month. It was difficult but very much needed. By the end of November, I felt reborn. My mindset has shifted and I felt good. I finally stopped regretting sharing my past. I finally accepted everything that happened and most importantly I was truly healing. I was allowing myself to heal. I was letting go. There are just no words how I felt when everything just started to click. It’s just that moment of peace. It’s that moment of relief you feel when you remove your bra at the end of the day. It’s that moment of relief you feel when you take a sip of water when you were dying of thirst. It’s that moment of relief you feel when you get back inside the warm house after you walked the dog in the cold dead of winter. It was just peaceful. I let go of all that anger and resentment. I started to heal. My heart was picking up those fallen pieces and feeling hole again.

I don’t want you to think that it was all sunshine and rainbows. The same intense things that forced me into breaking point earlier the year was still present but I just had the right mindset for it. I didn’t have that extra baggage to carry. I still had some weight on my shoulders but I lost more than half of it if that makes sense. It’s very difficult to explain everything without just telling you what this intense thing is but I will share when the time is right. When I’m ready. I guess what I’m trying to say was that I felt better but life wasn’t suddenly farting unicorns and silly pandas. It was still very difficult but I was on the right track. I had my old spark back. I was truly losing myself in writing my coming of age story (Chocolate Chip Cookies And Pink Nails, now completed) and just finding so much joy in the entire healing process. For the first time in months, I felt truly happy. I was healing.

I’m going to end this part here. There is still more I want to say about this entire journey but I’m going to leave that for part 4. Again, and I truly can’t thank you all enough. Thank you for all the love and support. I’m so grateful that I have a platform where I feel safe to be able to share something so personal. I did not think I was going to start of my year by talking about something so vulnerable but it feels right. Writing this story just kind of happened. I started writing part one after a message from my father (it will probably come up in the next part) and I just really wanted to talk about it. Before I knew it was taking it way back and just letting it all out. I literally wrote part one two hours ago and I feel so good for doing so. No one has read it yet but it’s out of my head now. No idea if this makes sense. I will see you in the next one. Much love, Cassy xxx

Mental Health, Story Time

What Happened After I Shared About My Abusive Past | Depression | Part 2/4

I have no idea how to start this blog. I always try to have a nice introduction but 9/10 they get away from me. Last week I uploaded part one of everything that happened after I shared about my past with the promise with part two soon. This is part two and this is going to be a hard one. I really don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings but I do feel that maybe by me sharing this story, someone out there will feel less alone. So, before I stretch this introduction out, I’m just going to jump straight in.

Part One — https://fitcouchpotato.com/2019/01/07/what-happened-after-i-shared-about-my-abusive-past-depression-part-1/

October 2018

The month of October was even harder than that first month. I didn’t even know it was possible but yeah it was. When I say I felt raw and vulnerable, I truly mean it. For years I’ve kept my abusive past as my own dirty little secret. Even though there was nothing to be ashamed about, I just couldn’t even think about it. Thinking about it hurt too much. I ended up part one by saying that by telling the world and opening up that can of worms forced me to think about. I had no choice. Suddenly it was right there in my face and I couldn’t play the denial card anymore. I had to deal with it. I had to think about it. I had to come to terms about what happened. That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. For years I only survived by refusing to think much less remember the abuse and suddenly my world was flipped. It was a very raw experience. One of the hardest things I had to do that month was something I never thought I would do. I cut off ties with my mom. Only temporarily and I will explain more in a bit. I just want to take this moment to say that I don’t hold any resentment and anger towards my mother. Not anymore anyway. We both needed the time apart and it has made our relationship stronger. We had the conversation we needed and this has allowed us both to heal.

I really don’t want to write this next part but I already spilled the beans so I should probably explain. My relationship with my mom has truly seen it all. We’ve been through the highs and the lows. My mom has made her fair share of mistakes and there is a lot of things she has done that I would never do with my own children. Wait, that doesn’t sound right. I don’t want you to think that my mom is a bad mom. There are some things my mom did as I was growing up that I don’t agree with. How she acted and responded to things is not something I would carry on. Wait, that doesn’t sound right either. This is incredibly hard. How do I even explain this? It’s something so incredibly personal that I’m not even sure if I should be sharing this but it’s so important…

Let’s try this again. My mom made some bad decisions and I was pulled along with them. She has hurt me without meaning to do so by these bad decisions. For a long time there, my mom was just a very toxic and negative person in my life. That’s sounds wrong too. I don’t want to hurt her feelings if she decides to read this blog but I also want to help someone else struggling with something similar…The path my mom was on wasn’t healthy and her negativity was affecting my mental health in a toxic way. Yes! That’s it! Her response to the news was the hardest to deal with. She definitely took it the hardest. She was the one that brought this man into my life. She was the one who felt at fault, I guess. My dad made it quite clear that he blamed her. Honestly, I don’t know what she was feeling because I’m not her but her immediate response after I shared my past was…I don’t know what to say, it was negative. It was just not something I needed nor wanted to hear. She like my father asked why I didn’t tell them back then but this just rubbed me up the wrong way. In my eyes, there were moments where he abused me in front of her and she laughed it off as a joke. So of course, the young me would think her mother wouldn’t do anything about it. It’s really as simple as that. There is no nice way to say that. We called about a week after I told her the news and she said she was angry at him, at herself and at ME. She was still so in turmoil about the news and I don’t think she meant this but it hurt when she said. Up to this point I had desperately tried to let go of my anger and just truly let go and heal but by her telling me she was angry at me for not telling her back then. It cut deep. It broke my heart. It was like a dam exploded inside of me and I was so incredibly angry at her. I was so sick and tired of the same old bullshit and her negativity in my life. Something needed to change. She was making me feel like the worst daughter ever for not telling her back then. And for telling her now. She was in such turmoil that the stress was keeping her up at night and making her sick. I felt guilty for hurting my mother and then I would feel angry at her at the next moment. I wrote this poem one night.

Why are you the one that’s angry?

Why are you angry?

You always just stood there

You watched his hands tighten around my throat

You never said anything

Why are you angry?

You always just stood there

You watched as his words destroyed me

You never said anything

Why are you angry?

I should be the one angry at you.

I truly was angry at my mother at that moment. I was also hurt. I don’t even think the word heartbreak can truly describe what I was feeling in that moment. As time passed and we entered the first two weeks of October, this anger just kept building. I was pissed off that instead of just saying she was sorry she was turning the whole thing around. She wasn’t sleeping. She was angry. She wanted to call him and tell him a piece of her mind. It was just how she was feeling and there wasn’t a true moment of how do you feel? Are you okay? Honestly, I just wanted a fucking sorry. I wrote this poem the same night as the previous one.

Just a sorry

I just want a sorry,

But I know I won’t ever get that.

Sorry this happened to you.

Sorry I didn’t do anything.

Sorry that I said nothing.

Sorry that I couldn’t stop it.

Sorry that you couldn’t trust me with the ugly truth.

Sorry I brought him into our lives.

Just a sorry.

That’s all I want.

Now that time has passed, I realize that what I wanted to hear from my parents’ when I told them about my abusive past was sorry. I wanted them to say sorry because the really ugly truth is, they both played some role in it. My father wasn’t my knight in shining armor. Yes, I realize I never gave him the opportunity but there is a reason why little me didn’t think I could go to him. There were stages in my life that I didn’t think my dad cared. Not because he didn’t care it was more like there was a block. He had a very strict and hateful girlfriend who hated my guts. It wasn’t a joy to always go down to visit my father on school holidays because this woman always made me feel like a piece of shit. I guess, in my mind who was so used to insults thrown my way connected the fact that when my father didn’t stand up against her emotional abuse, he wouldn’t really do anything about the horrible abuse that was going on at my mom’s. I don’t want to make excuses for myself but you have to understand that my way of thinking back then was very different than how I think today. My mother wasn’t my protector. The person who kissed the nightmares away. She didn’t jump in and protect me when things got bad. It’s really that simple. It sounds horrible but it’s the truth. They both played a role and I just wanted a sorry. Sorry I wasn’t your knight in shining in armor. Sorry that I didn’t say or do anything when he was choking you in front of me. Just a good old sorry.

In the middle of October, I snapped. My mom had made a status on Facebook about how horrible my brother is. Their fight has been going on for years and I was so fucking sick and tired of the same old bullshit that I snapped. I reached out to my brother and mother and tried to arrange a meeting where the two could just sit down and get it all out. I felt that the both of them were in the wrong and they needed to be adults about it. I just really didn’t like that Facebook status. My mom rejected the offer to meet and made snippy little comments on that post and my last little string snapped. I was done. I couldn’t take it anymore. Something had to change. This can’t continue. I just don’t have the energy inside of me anymore for this shit. So, I messaged her. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

17 October 2018 

This message is incredibly hard to write but I know this is the best decision I can make for myself right now. I need some time apart. The both of us need it. We need time to get our thoughts straight and heal. Mentally I’m in a vulnerable place and I need to take all the steps I can to protect myself. I will be honest with you, these last two months you’ve caused me so much pain and distress. I know it wasn’t your intention but I just can’t have the cycle repeat while I’m in such a place mentally. I’m trying my utmost best to put my past behind me and let go of all the anger I have left. On most of the days I’m not angry, I’m almost at peace but then you would say something that would spark that anger. And this anger is toxic. It’s destroying all of my hard work. I’m sorry. The last thing I ever want to do is hurt you but I need to be selfish and think about myself and my feelings. I wish you the best and I will contact you when I’m ready. That’s when we can talk about everything but we really do need this time. Before we both say or do something that we regret. I love you but I need to say goodbye. I hope you will understand and respect this decision. I honestly think you should take this time to reflect about everything and get your thoughts straight so we can have the conversation we desperately need when we’re both ready. 

I realize that this is a very personal message to share but it’s such an important part in this journey of healing and forgiveness. Sending this message was hard but it was needed. For the both of us. She needed time to process everything and get her thoughts straight and I needed the time apart. I just needed things to change. I just couldn’t have the same shit repeat over and over. I felt drained. Two days after sending this message, I reached out and got a new therapist. I don’t want to go into too much detail about my mom’s response to the message. She was emotional as expected but respected my wishes and we took the time apart. The last two weeks of the month of the October was hard. Really hard. Honestly, the entire year of 2018 was hard but things shifted for me after I shared my past. Life wasn’t suddenly easy but I was growing every single day. I was pushing my boundaries and truly trying to heal. I was putting my past behind me. Or at least starting that process.

I’m going to round off this blog here. The next part I want to share is really long and I don’t want to make these blogs too long. Part 3 will be up soon but until then thank you again for all the love and support. The last thing I want to do is hurt my parents’ feelings. They’re not bad parents. Yes, both of them had their moments but don’t we all? No one is perfect. I truly hope that by opening this can of worms and truly writing about everything will help someone out there. I don’t know how this can help someone but I feel like this story is something that needs to be out there in the world. Much love, Cassy xxx

Part Three — https://fitcouchpotato.com/2019/01/21/what-happened-after-i-shared-about-my-abusive-past-depression-part-3/

 

Mental Health, Story Time

What Happened After I Shared About My Abusive Past | Depression | Part 1/4

I was going to have part two of the renovations go up today but it felt more natural to talk about my depression and anxiety. So much has happened after I shared my secret with the world on the first of September. I’ve made leaps and bounds since I shared that post. There is quite a bit I want to tell you so buckle in and enjoy the ride.

September 2018

I started the month by sharing my secret. I didn’t know it was something I wanted to do till I wrote the message. I didn’t know I was ready to share it till I woke up one morning and decided to share it. I was so desperate for things to change that I was willing to just rip off the band-aid and get it over with. I don’t know what reaction I expected or what I would feel afterward but boy. It was a lot. I felt ten emotions all at the same time. I didn’t even know it was physically possible but that’s just how I felt. Overwhelmed with raw emotions. My parents’ response was what mattered the most and seeing their response come in was hard. They responded how you would expect. Anger and confusion. Anger as in, I’m going to kill that monster that hurt you. Confusion as in, why didn’t you tell me back then? I could’ve done something. They also needed answers. What happened? When did all of this happen? Why didn’t you tell me back then? I could’ve helped you. This hurt me in ways that I’m going to try to explain now.

He came into my life when I was nine years old. I will never forget that moment that I met him. Back then I used to visit my father every two weeks for the weekend. We lived an hour away so while I would stay with my father my mother would stay with her friends. A few months prior she met him and was ready to introduce him that one night. I can tell you where we were, how the air smelled like and everything. That moment is so clearly imprinted on my brain as I’m writing this now, I’m transported back to that very moment. He didn’t act strange or did anything that would cause any frowns but something inside of me just knew. That little voice inside my head screamed that this man is faking it. He is wearing a mask. Who he portrays himself to be is not his true self. It was just that gut feeling. I was young and had no idea what it meant. I figured I just didn’t like the man because my mom was dating him. I struggled a lot in the beginning after my parent’s divorce to accept the men, she brought home. They weren’t my dad and I wanted my dad. My mom and he got engaged and married within the same year. Everything was normal. He was friendly enough and eventually I convinced myself to ignore that gut feeling. I was just uncomfortable with him because he is marrying my mom. Within days after the marriage, the mask dropped and I learned who he was. Monsters are real. My gut feeling was right. To this day, I always listen to my gut feeling. I don’t ignore it.

When my parents asked why I didn’t tell them back then it was difficult for them to see. I tried to explain but I don’t think it has truly sunk in. I was so incredibly young and impressable when the abuse started. I just thought what he was doing was normal or that it was no big deal. I was overreacting. Everyone’s step dads demanded to see them in their bra’s. The few times I reached out to adults nothing happened. They pushed it aside and acted like it was no big deal. There were times he would abuse me emotionally and very rarely physically in front of adults as it was seen as a joke. So, in time, I saw it as a joke. No big deal. It was hell and I was terrified the entire time. The abuse kept getting worse and there was just no way to escape it. I could only stay stubborn and fight of the will to end it all for so long. He left when I was sixteen and I pushed everything to the back of my mind and forced myself to just go on with my life. I couldn’t focus on it too much. I couldn’t allow myself to open that can of worms. Years went by where I didn’t think much about it. I managed to convince myself it was normal or that no one would believe me. There weren’t bruises. I’m just overreacting. So, when my parents asked me why I didn’t tell them it was hard to tell them that I didn’t think they would do anything. I didn’t think they would believe me. I was convinced they would tell me it’s not that serious. Brush it off and then send me back to him. I was convinced that I would get in trouble. Obviously, I realize that I was just brainwashed and my dad would probably have beaten the guy to a pulp. I realize that now but the thing about abuse when you are so young is that you don’t know what this person is doing right or wrong. Or eventually, you start to believe that you deserve it. You’re a bad child and you deserve to feel like this. NO. There is nothing wrong with you my sweet child. You don’t deserve this pain. Please reach out to adults. They won’t be angry. If the first adult doesn’t listen to you, go to the next one. And the next one. Force them to hear you.

I said before that I shared my secret because I wanted to be free from my past. I didn’t want to be ashamed about what happened anymore. The first two seconds after I shared the message, I felt free. I felt giddy and just like this massive weight was off my shoulders. It wasn’t until I saw my parents’ response where suddenly it felt so real. For the first week, I felt incredibly guilty for telling my parents’. They were struggling with the news. They were hurting and I felt bad about it. Where I had years to come to terms with my past, they just got this big bomb on them out of nowhere. My dad called a lot. He needed to know what happened and fuck it was hard to talk about it. I’ve only told one person in the entire world almost everything that happened. Even then it took me some time to feel ready to tell him everything. I’ve also talked to my best friend about it but we never went into detail. And suddenly, my father wanted, no needed some details. It felt dirty as I was trying to just say some of it. He needed to know if I was raped. My mom needed to hear that too. I wasn’t raped. For the longest time, I thought because I wasn’t raped, it doesn’t count. The truth is although I was never raped, I have no fucking doubt in my mind that it was next. The weeks leading up to his departure of my life, there was gestures and hints. Hugs where you can feel it. Urgh, I feel sick to my stomach.

The entire month of September was just an ugly emotional rollercoaster. I felt raw and vulnerable. I regretted my choice of sharing my past at least once a day. I regretted opening that can of worms because I hurt so much. I didn’t feel free from my past instead my past was suddenly ALL I could think about. I think I’m going to stop this blog here. It’s a lot and I just need a moment to process everything. Part two will be up soon. I just want to take this moment to thank every single one of you for all the love and support that I received when I shared my past. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you all. Much love, Cassy xxx

The blog I referenced too: I Suffer From Depression and Anxiety — https://fitcouchpotato.com/2018/09/03/i-suffer-from-depression-and-anxiety/

Part Two — https://fitcouchpotato.com/2019/01/14/what-happened-after-i-shared-about-my-abusive-past-depression-part-2/

 

Animals, Mental Health

How My Dog Has Helped Me With My Dark Days | Mental Health

One of the main reasons why I desperately wanted a dog was for my mental health. I’ve been struggling with my depression and bad days ever since I could remember. I didn’t want my demons to swallow me whole. I wanted something that would force me to get out of bed and start my day. Something that would be my companion throughout the day and fight my loneliness. As it was my loneliness that always seemed to welcome those negative thoughts. That something turned out to be my dog, Dankie. I knew getting a dog would force me to go out and get some fresh air on those days where I never wanted to leave the bed. I knew seeing my dog doing something silly would make me laugh on the days where I only wanted to cry. Dankie has delivered and them some more.

I’ve talked about it before but those first two weeks were absolutely terrible. I regretted getting a dog every second of it. It was overwhelming. Suddenly I had this living thing to look after and I couldn’t just stay in bed all day like I wanted to. I had to care for this little puppy, teach him tricks and stand outside for a hour as I wait for him to go to the bathroom. I wanted to wait before posting this blog for prime moments to share. The first really big moment was just yesterday (23rd of October). I was in a bad state mentally. Very dark and gloomy. It was a bad day. Sometimes on a bad day I will force myself to go out for a walk and then come back home with a positive outlook. Other times on a bad day I just allow myself to sit back and feel what I feel. I spend the entire day on the couch watching Orange is the new Black and Dankie barely left my side. If he wasn’t on the couch physically touching my body, he was within an arms reach. He didn’t want to go outside and well leave me alone. He was right there by my side. He wasn’t restless or anything either. He was very calm and simply just cuddled with his mommy. Writing this now, I’m getting quite emotional. I needed that you know. I needed the company and love and Dankie just delivered. It was a natural process for him. He sensed my dark thoughts and supported his mommy in his own way. He would comfort me with kisses when I cried and he was just so amazing. It made me love the little fart even more.

Sometimes when I find myself in a circle of dark days that I can’t escape, I will force myself to go outside for a good hour if not more and just allow my brain to think of something else. Before getting my little fart, this wasn’t as easy to do. I would walk around the city but I wouldn’t come back home feeling like a brand new woman. I need to surround myself with nature and completely disconnect. There is this massive field by the river close to our house and twice a week I will take Dankie to this spot. There is just something so heartwarming about seeing the dog so absolutely happy while he hops through the long grass. Dankie is the biggest goofball and it’s a guarantee if you set him free in that area that he will do something silly and you will find yourself laughing. Since getting Dankie he has been the main source I turn to when I desperately want to flip that switch. I just take him for a nice long walk, sit down on a rock by the river and watch him play. For that hour or so I’m not thinking about those dark and heavy thoughts. They linger in the back of my brain don’t get me wrong but they’re not the only thing I’m thinking about. My main focus is instead the air around me. The smell and the happy bark that Dankie lets out when I call for him. That’s another thing that’s so amazing about having a dog. It’s always happy to see you. I mean how can you not smile when this little creature looks at you like you are his entire world.

Something that I want to touch on before I continue is about those dark days. I still sometimes have no idea what I’m supposed to do heck sometimes it even takes me a while to realize that I’m the dark loop again but what I started to do is allow it. I allow myself to feel these thoughts and emotions but I don’t act on it. I simply let it happen and write about it once I find the words. I just let myself feel what I need to feel and then ideally the next day or a few hours later shake it off. I don’t have all the answers. I just recently accepted my depression and the fact that I need help but hey I’m getting there. I’m taking one step every day and learning along the way. Dankie has been a massive help.

I think I’m going to wrap up the blog after sharing this next moment because it all comes down to one thing. My dog makes me laugh when I want to cry. He stays by my side when I need him too and he gets me out of the house when I need fresh air. He also forces me to get out bed. I mean I basically had the short version of the entire blog in the introduction. Some of you are probably like wow third time is the charm right? Did you get my joke? I basically said the same thing three times…Alright moving on. So somewhere last week I was waiting for Onno to get home and I was watching a show on Netflix to kill time. The entire day Dankie has been this massive ball of energy but he was finally getting sleepy. Although we don’t want to approve of this behavior, he cuddled with his mommy on the couch. The little fart knows that his only allowed on the couch when he gives me a cuddle. Anyway, he was completely spent and stretched out on the couch like he owns the place. Dankie let go of the biggest and most foul smelling fart ever and I saw the entire thing. That’s right. My eyes were on his anus (excuse my French but come on that’s the word for his butthole. I almost feel butthole is worse on the ‘bad word’ scale) and I saw it vibrate when he farted. The timing of the entire thing and how the dog woke up from the fart sound, glanced back before snorting and going back to sleep was timeless. I blinked for a few seconds still so shocked about what I just witnessed before I scared the dog awake with my loud and uncontrollable fit of laughter. I full on, I shit you not, lost the ability to breathe as I laughed. It was one of those crying from laughter while hugging your stomach because your abs hurt to laugh. It was brilliant and I will never forget that moment. Even now as I’m writing this I’m chuckling with this small smile on my face. I’m so happy to have Dankie apart of our little family. I’m so grateful for my furry best friend and all the joy he brings to our family. I love him so much.

If you’re struggling with mental health I really recommend you consider getting a pet. Especially if you’re alone for the biggest part of the day. it’s dangerous to be alone when you’re in a such a dark space mentally. It doesn’t even need to be a dog. I mean my cat is pretty damn great too but now that he can explore the outside world he doesn’t really stay by my side enough. You can get a bird, a hamster, a rabbit, a snake anything your heart desires. Just something that can interact with you throughout the day. Something that would require attention in the morning that would force you out of bed. Give it some thought. I realize not anyone has the living opportunities for a pet but there is other options minus an animal companion.  I’m currently exploring different activities to help with those dark days. There really isn’t a wrong activity (well murder is pretty bad) to choose from. Just explore. Try new things. Don’t give up.

Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!

heart-2954170_1280

PS Dankie has an Instagram account where I try to remember to post pictures and videos. You can find the link here —  https://www.instagram.com/dankieeey/ — But otherwise here are some of my favorite pictures that I took recently.

 

 

Mental Health

I Tried Online Counseling For One Month | Talkspace Review

*Before you jump in, I’m going to try my utmost best to write this blog in a way where everything makes sense. I started writing it on one day when my impression of the service was quite bad and now as I’m editing this and changing things around, my impression has changed a little. So I’m going to break things up as my first impression is still very important to note.

First impression:

I just want to start off with saying that online counseling isn’t for everyone. Sometimes you will need one on one therapy and even though Talkspace provides therapy at great prices, I was anything but pleased with their service. I’m going to try my utmost best to explain everything; why I’m not renewing my subscription after one month and why I wouldn’t recommend it to friends and family.

Talkspace is a platform where you can match with a therapist online and communicate via an app or on the web. You have a choice between normal messaging, voice messages (5 minutes time limit), a video (2 minutes time limit) and you can also send images. Getting started is relatively easily.

talkspace getting started.png

You simply create an account and then you will chat with a matching therapist who will identify your therapy needs. I got a response almost immediately after I joined. It was so quick it took me awhile to figure out I wasn’t talking to an automated system and to an actual human being. They will ask you some questions to identify what you need with your therapy. After the assessment, they will send you the subscription/membership/payment (as you can see I had no idea what to call it) options.

talkspace options.png

You then choose the plan you desire, fill in all the payment details and then we move onto the next step. After the payment goes off in your bank, they will start to look for a match. This can take a few hours. I got three to start off with. You read the profile, every therapist has a little bio, and then choose your therapist. If none of the therapists are the right match for you, you can request new options. I found my first therapist relatively quickly and I stayed with her for one week.

The idea of therapy spun me into a spiral of emotions. It was scary but I knew it was the right step forward. At this point, I had no qualms with the app/service itself and I’m not holding anything against the first therapist, but well it wasn’t a good match. I felt that my responses weren’t being read and half of our messages was fill in this or would you consider taking drugs for your depression and etc. She did respond with almost technical messages but it just wasn’t enough. What I wanted from her was 1) a response to my messages so I felt like I was being heard and 2) informative responses. Her approach to therapy is to ask open questions and have well me fill in the blanks but I found this nearly impossible. It was incredibly frustrating. The main thing we struggled with is my extreme emotional episodes. Over reaction of some sorts. She would instruct that in the moment I need to think if I’m over reacting or if my response to what’s happening is ‘normal’. This just rubbed me up the wrong way. For starters how can I tell if my reaction is normal or not. My abuse started when I was ten years old. I don’t know any other way how to respond to things. An open question isn’t going to help. If she followed this open question with more guidance, maybe we would’ve gotten somewhere. But I was just more distressed than anything else.

After one week with her as a therapist, I decided that Talkspace isn’t for me. I cancelled my subscription with every intention to find a therapist I can see one on one. As it wasn’t that much cheaper and I wasn’t getting the attention I needed, it was just the right choice for me at that moment. At this point, I might’ve still recommended the app to friends and family. As I had three more weeks of paid time left, I figured I should at least try another therapist. I was open to the idea and if the next therapist ticked off all of the boxes, I would renew my subscription and continue with the service. The first few days were great. The first week really. The responses was just what I wanted. She responded to what I was saying while guiding me slowly forward. She send voice messages and even videos which sparked me to respond more. I made my own voice messages and for the first time; it felt like I was in therapy. It was going really well. One message a day. That’s acceptable. Ideally I would’ve preferred two messages a day but well beggars can’t be choosers. But very quickly, the time in between messages became longer and longer. DAYS went by without any response and if I would get a response it was shorter. I felt like I was no longer being heard and she was distracted. Her attention and focus wasn’t on my therapy. Simply put she didn’t have the time for my problems. This was incredibly disappointing. On the website they promise regular responses. 1-2 times PER DAY. In my third and fourth week of my service, I was lucky if I got 1-2 response A WEEK! To be frank, I just wasn’t getting what I paid for. This is the main reason why I wouldn’t recommend Talkspace to the next person. Another reason is simply that I’m not getting what I need out of online therapy. Now I can’t be sure if my opinion would’ve changed if I actually got therapy everyday but as I stand now, it’s just not the right fit for me.

Now it wasn’t a complete waste of money. Well technically I barely got what I paid for and I will definitely email support and see what I can do. Hopefully I can get some type of refund. Although my first impression on their refund policy is, the chances of you actually getting a refund is ridiculously small. I could be wrong and I really hope that I am, but yeah. Honestly I’m not impressed at all. The only reason why this experience wasn’t a waste of money is that I genuinely took a step forward for my mental health and recovery. Although I felt like I did most of the work myself. The first week with my second therapist was incredibly helpful. It just wasn’t worth the 191 Euros I paid for the month because in all honestly I felt like I only received therapy in that one week.

My impression/opinion now:

*This next part is an update from future Cassy who received an email from customer support.

The day I wrote this blog (17 September 2018), I emailed customer support afterwards and simply said that I was disappointed in their service as I felt like I didn’t receive what I paid for and if we could arrange some sort of compensation. I made it quite clear that my first two weeks I did receive regular messages. In all honesty I didn’t expect much, maybe a discount code. My impression of the service was just sour if I’m straight with you. Therapy is such a personal and vulnerable thing and as I felt like I was constantly putting myself out there and I just wasn’t getting what I needed in return…well the fact that all the promises weren’t met didn’t help the matter. Two things happened on the day I heard from customer support. For starters my therapist responded to me after one week of silence. I received her message in the morning. It was short and I could hear one of my favorite TV shows in the background. The theme song. She also didn’t respond to all of my messages so that really just rubbed me up the wrong way. Here I was desperately trying and working on my therapy and then she sends me a message clearly distracted and not focused on responding to everything I asked her about. I specifically asked her a few questions as I knew my subscription was running out and I wasn’t sure if I would renew or not. I asked her about bad days and whatnot, something I struggle with severely, and well when she responded to me for the first time in a week with a lackluster short reply where I could only start to doubt that she even listened to everything I send her…it was just the last thing I needed. Online therapy isn’t for me. There is just no chance I would renew my subscription and continue with the service.

Later that afternoon, I however received a response to my email. They apologized for my less than optimal experience with their services. Their message was sincere and they offered a full refund. This completely changed my impression of the company itself. I was completely and utterly surprised that they would refund me for the month and well if a company is ready to admit that they didn’t offer what they promised, then they’re clearly on the right path. Even though my experience with the actual therapy was anything to be desired, the company itself definitely won me back. By taking responsibility for their service, they changed my opinion. I can now say that I would recommend the company to friends and family. I do however hope you have better luck with finding a therapist that will be the right match for you but if not at least you tried it.

I personally would not use the service again. Or any online counseling to be precise. Even though for just a week there when the second therapist was actually committed to well giving me therapy, it still isn’t the right fit for me. I need to talk to someone face to face. One on one. I really can’t say with full confidence that my disappointing service from the two therapists influenced this decision but well if you’re struggling and you want someone to talk to, at least give it a try. You can only say once you’ve tried it yourself if it’s the right match for you or not. So I recommend that you at least try it and if you don’t like it, there is different options out there. There is books, other websites, online communities and so much more. Your mental health is important.

Before I go, over the weekend I got an email from TalkSpace, one of those promotional ones. They send a $65 discount code off on your first month and I’m going to share it with you: FALL65 (This email was send to me on the 29th of September 2018. I have no idea how long this code will be valid.)

Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!

heart-2954170_1280

Disclaimer: I’m not affiliated with TalkSpace at all. I paid for their service, got my refund when the said service was disappointing and a week after my subscription ended, I got the email with the discount code. This is not a personal code they created for me where I pocket the difference or any of that. It was a promotional email and I simply wanted to share the code for those who want to try out online counseling.

Mental Health

I Suffer From Depression And Anxiety

On Saturday, the first of September I shared something on all of my social media platforms (minus twitter but does it really count though?) that I’ve wanted to share for a very long time. I just didn’t have the courage to do so. Here is what I shared.

I always hated the word depression not for the reasons some might think. The man that caused my depression and anxiety is the same man who justified his abuse with his own depression. He was fighting his demons but in the process he was creating mine. I’m not saying this to receive pity or play the victim card. I’m finally sharing this because maybe it will set me free. I will no longer be the one who is ashamed of his actions. HE should be the one that is ashamed. So here goes; I was emotionally, physically and quite sickeningly sexually abused. It drove me towards suicidal thoughts and I quite terrifyingly was close to ending it all. But I didn’t because I was stubborn enough to want to push through. To kick, scream and give it all I have. For a very long time I hated connecting myself to the word depression because it was just too close to home but I’m done hiding or spinning myself into the web of denial. 2018 has been one ugly and beautiful year. Many great things happened but at the same time many things that spun me in a very bad state of depression happened. Things I will probably share one day when I’m ready. It became so bad where I had to seek help from others before I did something stupid and that’s when I learned how fucking good it feels to let it out. It’s no longer my dirty little secret, some heavy burden I carry around. It’s my past but not my future. Going forward I will surely have a few bad days but I vow to myself to always fight and not surrender. The depression won’t take my happiness away, not anymore.

***

Sharing something to the entire world that only a handful of people knew about me was incredibly difficult. Not even my own parents knew this. The ‘secret’ so to say was only known by my husband and best friend. That’s it. I’ve made it no secret that 2018 is kicking my ass. I’ve experienced heartbreak in this year that I can’t even begin to comprehend. Even though sharing this was incredibly difficult. I was scared. Beyond scared. What will people think of me? Who will I hurt in the process of sharing this? I wanted to feel free of the heavy burden that is this ‘secret’ so I did it. It felt really good. It’s out there in the world. It doesn’t define me whatsoever but it’s no longer this heavy burden I carry around. It feels good. I’m still scared, don’t get me wrong there. It’s still scary but I feel lighter.

These last two months offline was incredibly good for me but at the same time, not so much. So much has happened, I’ve cried harder I’ve ever cried in my entire life. I went offline to improve my mental health and in the beginning I was just allowing the depression to take root of me. Push me down to the point where I could barely breathe. After joining online counseling and reaching out to a therapist, I’ve decided if I want to honestly improve my mental health I need to give it my all. The first step was to share my story. The second step is to set myself a firm routine and get back to the things I’m passionate about. Writing. Stories and blogs. Working out.

I want to make September my month. My month to push myself, try out new things and heal.

Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!

heart-2954170_1280

PS. You can find all things technical about what to expect of my blog moving forward by clicking here — https://fitcouchpotato.com/2018/09/02/a-brand-new-start-what-to-expect-from-me-in-september-2018/