I used to struggle with the simplest task for office workers. It wasn’t just the laziness kicking in. I did not know why but I was lethargic and could not get out of my bed every morning at a set time. Somedays, after barely getting out of the building, I would walk for a long time and suddenly feel suffocated and have blurry sights. I did not know the reasons and I had no choice but to just endure my sufferings.
I did not have the words to explain what I was going through. I’ve encountered the term ‘PTSD’ but I assumed it was only for those who went through extreme events like war or natural disasters. Last January, when I first visited the Tree Group, I considered myself to be a depressed patient who went through some hard times. For the past 9 months, the DBT program helped me face things I simply endured, the part of me I avoided and did not look into during the process, the many wrong perspectives and my vulnerabilities.
I was able to use my own words to articulate the thoughts that put me through troublesome moments, the incident that changed my life, and my inner mind that had to suffocate. I ate three meals every day, went to bed and woke up on time, went to work even if I could not do a lot of work. Following these simple tasks one at a time, I found myself at a comfortable state. Just like sailors learning to sail in the sea with waves, I learned how to find peace and mindfulness under the swirling emotions.
In the journal I write every day, my emotion state is + on some days and – on other days. But the biggest change in me is that when I know and decide what things could be done to make a change, I can make it happen. I can’t live every day in a good mood, and it is natural that negative emotions arise, but I believe what is important is that I can look into myself and encourage myself.
Looking back, there have been a lot of changes. Interpersonal relationships improved, my contact list got shortlisted from 1000 contacts to 50, and emotional fluctuation reduced with the simplification of my daily routines. Also, though still not at my best state, I can go to work every day. Saying ‘see you tomorrow’ gave my colleagues set expectations to see me the next day and greet each other the next day.
I’ve finally recovered the basic functional skills, and I probably will have to put in much more effort to face the traumatic event through prolonged exposure therapy. I’ve heard that facing one’s trauma is not easy and that some clients would quit while still in therapy. I could relate to them, but for some reason I have a feeling that I could overcome my trauma. It’s probably because I am not alone.
When I thought there wasn’t any hope nor energy left in me to live along, I remember everyone that held my hand and brought me to the Tree Group. I thank everyone who willingly stood by my side and supported me. They are still by my side.
In the last session, I and my clinician had a good laugh when she told me I would become a ‘living legend’ when I finish this journey of therapy. Well, I really do not expect those ambitious titles nor roles. I just want to be happy at this moment. I hope my story could encourage those who need to go through the same therapy and that would be enough for me. Out of everything, I just want to be a “good uncle” to my nephews.