Recovery is Progress, Progress is Recovery

progresswheelThis morning I went in to my therapists’ office in a state-of-mind I haven’t really found myself in before when meeting with her- content and without agenda. Typically when I go in I go in ready to talk about something that made me depressed or particularly anxious during the preceding week. We’ll talk through the situation, usually focusing on the thought patterns leading up to it, talk about a mindful approach, and ultimately, what if anything I can do differently next time. That can range from learning to accept things I cannot change to taking some of my Clonidine to help manage situations that make me anxious. But today wasn’t like that.

Today there wasn’t any particular issue or problem I wanted to go over. That’s not to say that the week went by without incident- anxiety and depression continue to be struggles, but lately I’m doing better and better when it comes to managing them. So what’d we talk about?

Well, it was the first time I asked about recovery within the context of our weekly sessions. She had mentioned last week that she had discharged a patient which freed up her schedule a bit so that we could meet every Thursday morning instead of alternating Wednesdays and Thursdays. Between that and the broader view I’m starting to take of what recovery means, I was curious, when would I be in a position to end our therapy sessions? I was quick to clarify that I’m in no rush to, but she just as quickly reassured me that it’s a normal question.

In her words, she basically gets paid to put herself out of a job, on a patient by patient basis. Therapy isn’t something that everyone needs once a week for the rest of their lives, because the goal of course is for people to get better. Not better in the sense of being cured of depression or anxiety, but better in the sense that they can successfully recognize it and manage it without it having too great of an impact on their ability to live comfortably, securely and happy. In fact, we talked about how while there’s not a hard and fast rule, her clinical experience is that it’s roughly about a year of weekly sessions when patients begin to ask. I’ve been seeing her for just about ten months.

We talked about the skills I’ve been learning and practicing, about the medication and how I feel on it, and about the different factors that could impact my ongoing recovery (my living situation, my work, relationships, etc.). Discharging a patient isn’t something that just happens one day, it’s a mutual decision and gradual process that takes place between the therapist and the patient. Weekly schedules become biweekly, biweekly sessions become monthly, etc. After discussing it, we decided we’re going to cut back on my sessions and start meeting every two weeks.

I’m feeling good about the decision. Recovery isn’t about a big significant end goal, it’s about being able to make progress towards more manageable goals, being able to look back and know that you’re doing better compared to a month ago, six months ago, or a year ago. It’s about understanding that feelings aren’t facts, and that I can make positive decisions when I don’t allow negativity to dominate my thoughts. It’s about practicing the techniques that make that understanding easier. I suppose what I’m saying, is that the progress itself is recovery.


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