“Amanda,” my therapist asks, “what are you trying to tell me? You know I’m committed to working on this. What is it that you’re trying to say?”
“I have all these voices in my head. I call them demons. They tell me that I’m better off dead. I have days upon days where these demons are unrelenting in their pull. It is so strong that I cannot hear my own voice. I cannot hear it. I was hoping that somehow, if I could hear your voice in my head, then maybe i have a chance.”
“It has to be your own voice, Amanda. I wish it was just that easy. But your voice needs to come out. You have to do this. I am here to help you find your voice. I am here to cheer you on. But I cannot give you my voice. It has to be your own.”
My eyes became despondent. “But I’m not strong enough. I don’t know how much longer I can continue to endure this. What I went through these last five days? Eventually it just beats you to a pulp and you can’t stand it any longer. I don’t want to give up, but it’s getting so close.”
“Look, I know this is hard. I know you’ve been struggling and doing everything you can not to give in to those urges. But look here, look at all this work we’ve been doing to chip it down, to really start looking at what trips you up. I can’t promise that I’m not going to trip you up, that life’s not going to trip you up. See this?” She points to the whiteboard where we filled out my model of emotion. “This is how anger leads to emptiness and then how emptiness leads to self destructive thoughts. And look here, this is where we could use skills to temper down those urges. There is a way, Amanda. You are doing it. I want you to know I am in this with you, but it has to be your own voice… because you know what, Amanda? This struggle you live with? It isn’t going to go away.”
There it was. Reality slammed right in my face. How much I didn’t want to hear that. How much I just wanted her to believe in me, as if believing in me was the pixie dust I needed in order to fly. “Just believe in me,” I wanted to say, “and I’ll be able to get through this.” But the truth is I didn’t have to say it. I knew that the voice she was talking about was that belief in myself. I knew in my hearts of hearts that when it came down to it, I was the one standing in front of my own destiny. I can either choose to commit to a life worth living, every time — all the way — or I can not. But it has to be a commitment if I work with my therapist. It doesn’t work if everytime the urges come over me, everytime I begin to obsess about the how-will-I-do-it and do-I-have-enough-courage-to-do-it, I need someone to believe in me to get me through it. It doesn’t work that way. I have to remember that she and I are working on a plan and it’s up to me to implement it.
She looks at the board and says, “Let me take a picture of this,” as I wrote down the model of emotion down on my notebook. She took a picture of it. Now we were both on the same page. Finally, I realized we were in this together.