I’m trying yet another kind of therapy to help with trauma from the past that is still affecting my present, in the form of anxiety. It’s called ART, or Accelerated Resolution Therapy. It is similar to EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) in that it uses eye movement and visualization, but the results are much quicker.

I liked it because, while my therapist guided me, I was really the one in control. I didn’t even have to tell her anything I was seeing or feeling unless I wanted to. And yet, the session continued. I was pretty drained and very tired, after, but I also felt lighter, like this weight of burden had been lifted off of me.

There is this tiny of seed of doubt at whether one session could really have worked, but I also have faith because I’ve experienced the true effect of EMDR. My ART session focused on something that doesn’t necessarily affect my everyday life, but rather certain circumstances that sometimes arise, so I can’t say for sure, yet, how much it helped, but I have noticed that when I think of those memories associated with the trauma I no longer feel any sort of anger, frustration, fear, sadness, depression, etc. That, also, is incredibly freeing! And it adds to my faith that ART really does work.

I truly am amazed at how far we’ve come in regards to help for mental illness. When I was first diagnosed with depression as a teenager, over twenty years ago, it seemed like the only thing you could do was take medication or use talk-therapy. Both of those things can work, but there are so many more options now, as well, which makes me incredibly grateful. As always, it’s about remembering that what works for me may not work for you. It’s about finding what does work for you and sticking with it. We deserve help. We deserve healthier lives. Because we are all worth it!


Reboot, Recharge

Sometimes in life we need a reboot, something to recharge us and get us going again. I had one of those recently. My husband and I went to Hawaii for our one-year anniversary, and it was amazing! It truly was as beautiful and amazing a place as everyone says. Spending time in nature and having fun with my husband was something I desperately needed.

Getting back to the normal grind of life after we got back home was difficult. Suddenly all the stresses we had left behind in Hawaii charged back with a fury, and at times I’ve felt like I’m drowning. Part of it is that I felt like I’d been losing myself again. I hadn’t been taking care of myself like I should. I hadn’t been doing the things that make me happy, that make me who I am. I rarely went for hikes or went out in the nature all summer and fall, I hadn’t been birding since spring, I stopped rocking out to music when I was in the car and hadn’t played my flute in a long time, either. While in Hawaii, I took tons of pictures of birds I’d never seen. It helped remind how much I love birding and taking pictures, even if I’m not great at it. The other day I forced myself to play my flute, and it felt so liberating! I even got it out and played again, just for a few minutes, the next day. I felt like myself again. I felt happy, even in the midst of stress, noise and difficulties.

So why did I stop doing the things that made me happy? There are various reasons, but one is that I lost motivation. That is one of the worst things about mental illness. It steals all your motivation. Even though I know birding or playing my flute makes me happy, if it takes all the energy I have just to survive each day then I have none left for anything else.

That’s why the recharge was so helpful. A trip as big as going to Hawaii isn’t always possible, but finding something—whether it’s a long hike, a hot bath, a massage, a weekend getaway, going to a concert, etc.—is so important. Finding the motivation can be hard, but if we do it makes it easier to motivate ourselves with the little things that bring happiness and keep us going. Those little—or big—things that make us who we are, that lift us up, lighten our load, bring joy even for a small moment are absolutely necessary. They are needful for those of us with mental illness and even those without.

So do something for yourself today. And if you need something bigger, if you need that reboot or recharge, find a way to make it happen, then cling onto the results and continue forward from there. We’ve got this.