Category: Mental Health

Transportation and Mental Health

My therapist recommended that I learn how to drive. I’m not sure whether I want to or not, or even if I can. She believes that I’m smart enough to drive and that I can work through my anxiety. I’m not as confident that I can process all of the necessary information while driving. My driving society is so severe that I’m not sure if I’ll ever find the courage to try.

I’m afraid that if I drive, I’ll get in an accident, hurting or killing myself or someone else. Less urgently, I’m also worried about damaging my car or someone else’s. Also, my dad said that if I get in an accident, I can go to jail.

Since I’m currently on disability, I’m not sure if I could afford to drive.

Even if I could drive, I’m not sure if I’d want to spend the money and effort on it that could go to other things. For example, maybe if I drive, I’d have less energy for my writing.

Driving is a huge responsibility. Someone on Reddit said that they once had to pay $1200 for a repair. Even if I manage to work on the car myself, buying parts could still be expensive. I’m not completely against sudden, major expenses…I love animals enough that I’m willing to get a cat and risk having vet expenses. I’m not sure if I could muster enough of a positive attitude about driving to be willing to deal with expenses like that for a car.

There are other risks that I’m more confident about taking, such as going to college, than I am about learning to drive. I’m not 100% certain that I’ll be able to get through college and get a therapist job, but I have enough confidence that I’m willing to take some small steps towards those goals, such as doing a college prep program. I’m a lot more conflicted about learning to drive.

Other forms of transportation come with their own stresses. The bus service in my city tends to be worse on evenings and weekends. Buses can get very crowded. Although I’m a friendly person, I find it uncomfortable when we’re packed tightly together. If I have to stand, I worry about being in the way. I just got a rolling cart to take groceries home on the bus, but I worry that people will resent me for taking up more space with my cart. I’m so anxious about it that I’m considering walking two miles to the store and back or arranging for a taxi to take me home every week. Taxis have more breathing room and are more convenient, but they’re expensive.

I’m thinking about learning to bike as a compromise. If I have a bike, I won’t be restricted to the limited bus schedule, I won’t have to pay a fee, and I won’t have as big of a responsibility as I would with a car. There may be repair costs, but they probably won’t be as expensive as car repairs. I’ll do some research on biking. Maybe I could get a bike trailer for groceries. It would be nice to at least somewhat increase my options for transportation.

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The Mental Health Clubhouse Called Me Today

My local mental health clubhouse called me today to set up an interview for becoming a member. I’m very excited. This is a baby step for me that will get me a little closer to my goal of working in the mental health field. I’ll also get to practice social skills, which will hopefully help me find friends and a partner. Here’s a link if you want to learn more about what clubhouses do for people with mental illness.

I’m trying to find information about how to introduce myself and make a good first impression. After I find enough, I’ll write a post about it.

Countering Depressive Thoughts

Psychologist William J. Knaus recommends fighting depressive thinking, a strategy which I’m also using for my anxiety (24). So far in the book, I haven’t seen him elaborate about this, but I’ve come up with my own ideas for fighting my mental illness. I write about problems that I’m depressed or anxious about in my journal and then write any possible solutions, coping strategies, or insights that I can think of. For example, I’ve been stressing about how to finance going to school to become a mental health therapist. I’ve come up with the following ideas:

  • I can call Social Security to ask if their Ticket to Work program can help me go to school. If I understand right from what I’ve read, it can, but I want to make sure.
  • I can ask the community college (I plan to start there and transfer to university) if I can talk to someone from the financial aid office to help me look at my options for financial aid.
  • If, worst case scenario, I’m not able to find a way to fund school, I can be involved in the mental health field in some other way, such as working as a peer counselor. However, to my understanding, peer counselors don’t actually treat mental illness, but are there more for being supportive. I really hope that my first career choice works out because I want to actually provide mental health treatment. Being a peer counselor would be the next best thing, though.

From my experience trying this strategy lately, fighting against my negative thinking makes me feel more capable of dealing with my problems.

Works Cited

Knaus, William J. The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Depression: A Step By Step Program, 2nd ed. New Harbringer Publications, Inc, 2012.

 

Fighting Depression By Trying New Things

William J. Knaus, who has a doctorate in psychology, recommends fighting depression by trying new things (25). In his example from when he dealt with depression, he looked for something new on his daily walks (25). I’m going to take a different approach and work on learning something new every day.

Works Cited

Knaus, William J. The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Depression: A Step By Step Program, 2nd ed. New Harbringer Publications, Inc, 2012.

 

A Shift in My Perspective About Mental Health

There was a time that lasted for at least a year when I was incapable of feeling pleasure. I told myself, “Even if I never feel pleasure again, at least I can try to live a life based on my values and have a sense of meaning from that.” Now, I can experience pleasure, and I tell myself, “If I stop feeling pleasure again, I’ll ask my mental health team for help and work hard to be able to access that feeling again. I won’t settle for a life without pleasure.”

I’m grateful that I’m in a good enough place psychologically to feel like I can work at having pleasure instead of resigning myself to a life of disengagement.

I care about myself enough now that I can be my own advocate. I can tell myself that I have a right to work on my happiness, believe it, and desire to do it.

To everyone reading this, you deserve positive mental health and you’re worth the effort it takes to get there. If you feel like life can’t get any better, that’s a lie rooted in mental illness, and it’s a treatable symptom. Good luck to you all on your mental health journeys.

 

Tip For Dealing With Feeling Hopeless or Discouraged

If you’re feeling hopeless or discouraged, sharing your doubts with someone can help you gain a more optimistic outlook. There are people out there, even strangers on the internet, willing to encourage you.

I came across a forum post in which someone said that their wife’s agency had an opening for a therapist and there were around 200 applicants just for that opening. I was already afraid that I wouldn’t be able to find work (whether agency or private practice) after graduating, but I felt even worse after reading that post. I made a post sharing details like the size of my city and asking if I actually had a chance of finding work after graduation.

Several people gave me encouraging answers. They said that they know of people in my city who can support themselves in private practice and have enough work to keep them busy. Community health agencies are always looking for staff. Someone in a smaller city than mine said that even their city has strong demand for therapists.

If you’d like an online resource to go to for support, the one I used was Ask Metafilter. I check that forum every day, and I constantly see posts from people who have a lot of compassion and insight to share.

Recording Good Things to Heal Anger Issues

I admit that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about times when I’ve felt that people have wronged me. I’ve spent a lot of time being worked up. I decided to start keeping track of times that people have been kind to me (or to others) so that it won’t take up as much head space for me anymore.

An example of a time that someone was kind to me is when I thought that my appointment with an apartment manager was next week and it turned out to be today. She called me and said that I could still meet with her today. She was patient with me even though I messed up, and I appreciate it.

I’ll keep a record of interactions like this so that if I get grumpy, I can be reminded of the good things that have happened. I think that it’ll help me with my anger issues and with keeping my faith in humanity overall.