Therapy didn’t come to me as an option until August 2016, when I was just over 9 months sober. During the first 9 months of my sobriety, or as I like to call it - BT (“before therapy”), I talked about what I was going through to anyone and everyone who was willing to lend an ear. My go-to person was my therapy-advocating roommate. She listened to me, gave excellent advice, and found gracious ways to sneak in the whole “you should see a therapist” message. I’d get annoyed, but then after the 100th time, it finally sunk in. I realized that my neuroses weren’t so cute after all.
At 14, I was struggling with some family issues and saw a psychiatrist. She diagnosed me with depression and put me on antidepressants. I tried Prozac. Then Zoloft. Then Effexor. I hated them all. I was a stubborn kid who knew everything and I didn’t need medication. At 16, I found what I thought I needed: weed and Smirnoff Ice (#classy, right?). At 18, I took myself off my meds without telling anyone; who needs antidepressants when they’ve got weed and booze? Obviously, I was wrong.
The first time I got high was the best feeling in the world. Calm and relaxation washed over me. Nothing else mattered other than the cloudy bubble I had just created. From that moment forward, I subconsciously decided that cloudiness would be my medication of choice. Smoking weed turned into popping pills… which I stole from my grandmother. Drinking a few Smirnoffs turned into chugging whiskey and hooking up with strangers. This was my life for the next 13 years.
With time, my current therapist has helped me identify the underlying issues that led to all those years of self-destruction. Through this experience, I’ve found that I have agitated depression/ high functioning anxiety. This means that I feel like I have to solve every single problem, and if I don’t, I see myself as weak. It also means I fill every moment of my life with “busy-ness,” so I don’t have to feel my own depression. I subconsciously self-destruct - even in sobriety.
But hey, there’s no cure for my own stubbornness. I still choose to self-medicate instead of take antidepressants. Every morning, I’ve prescribed myself 20 minutes of meditation and Holy Basil (an herbal anti-stress supplement). Once a day, I drink Kava tea (an anti-anxiety herbal tea) as needed, and little to no caffeine - I’ve found that caffeine exacerbates my anxiety.
Therapy has really helped me figure out who I am, who I’ve been, and what I’ve been dealing with all along. I am NOT my depression, I am NOT my triggered behaviors, and most importantly, it’s NOT my responsibility to save the world. I wish I’d have taken my mental health more seriously long ago. But if I did that, where would all my stories come from today? (Just kidding!)
Tawny Lara is a Texan who currently resides in New York City. Her blog, SobrieTeaParty, documents her continuous evolution from a drunk party girl to a sober woman. She feels most alive when she’s exploring activities outside of her comfort zone. When Tawny isn’t writing, she’s studying Spanish, working out, eating tacos, interpreting song lyrics, or all of the above.