So a while ago I had this thing where I’d write to my imaginary inner therapist. It helped me process things. Then I went and embraced The Crazy, and got myself a real life actual therapist. She used to say ‘and how does that make you feel?’ a lot. Apparently that’s a real, actual therapist thing.
Shannon’s Imaginary Therapist: Long time no see. So what brings you back here after all this time?
Shannon: Oh, you know, the usual. It’s been a while, so I thought I’d check in. That and I’m contemplating some scary life changes.
Imaginary Therapist: You thought you’d ‘check-in’ huh? I haven’t seen you for over a year and now you’re back just like that? Nice for some, I guess.
Shannon: Oh. Well. Yes. I mean, I’ve been busy. Or, you know, depressed. I spent a long time sleeping. Anyway. I feel better now. Lots better.
Imaginary Therapist: Really?
Shannon: Yeah. I mean, some days I slide a little, but mostly I feel good. I’m better about managing it. I’m better about recognising triggers for stress and anxiety too. I think mostly I’ve dealt with the issues that brought on that whole rock bottom period.
Imaginary Therapist: OK. So you’re sure you’re doing better?
Shannon: I get so sick of people asking me that. It makes me question myself.
Imaginary Therapist: Maybe sometimes you need to question yourself. Maybe having people doubt you sometimes makes you more careful about looking – you know as well as I do that depression can be sneaky.
Shannon: Yeah. I guess. I’m getting less sneaky about it though. If I’m not having a good time I will tell someone about it.
Imaginary Therapist: Someone else obviously.
Shannon: Are you always this passive aggressive? Because I’m not sure that’s something a therapist should be.
Imaginary Therapist: So I’m assuming there’s something specific that brought you back to me?
Shannon: Well yeah. I’m thinking about moving out of the flat to live alone. I’ve found a cottage in rural Upper Hutt that I want to live in. It’s secluded and quiet, and surrounded by animals.
Imaginary Therapist: I see the attraction. Why the hesitation?
Shannon: For starters I’m not sure I’ll get it. And people keep saying things about how secluded it is – and how I’ll be lonely. And I get the feeling some people don’t think I’m ready to be living alone.
Imaginary Therapist: Lets ignore the will you won’t you be offered the flat question, because it’s not something you can control. Do you think it’s secluded?
Shannon: Yeah. that’s what I like about it. I like that once work is done I ‘ll have somewhere quiet and all mine to relax into. I love my flatties, but I’m so ready for my own space. I don’t like having to be conscientious of other people in my down-time.
Imaginary Therapist: Is this a way of avoiding dealing with your depression?
Shannon: I don’t think so. I actually think getting some alone time would help. I always feel better when I can be alone. More relaxed. And I think having animals around me will help. I miss horses, and riding. So much. Now that I have a car I’m getting really impatient about it. I have a car – so I have a way of getting out to farms – when the hell am I going to get to ride again. You know?
Imaginary Therapist: So do you think you’ll be lonely?
Shannon: It sounds bad, but honestly no. I like being alone. And I’ll be in town six days a week for work and the SPCA. I’ll have neighbours out in the county who seem nice. I’m pretty good about making sure I catch up with friends. Even now it takes effort, so I’ll just keep making sure I put that effort in.
Imaginary Therapist: But what about job security? You’re wanting to go out and get a horse, and a cat, and you have a car, and you’re going to be spending more on petrol and you’ll have to park in town for work. that’ll be expensive. You only have a six month contract, with no guarantee on an extension.
Shannon: It’s no more expensive than it is now. And you know what? I’m sick of waiting for job security. It comes down to what’s important to me, and being able to ride again, and having my own space? That’s important. I’m not prepared to wait any longer for it. I think it’s about time I start getting what’s important to me. And lifestyle is important.
Imaginary Therapist: So what if your contract isn’t extended and you end up without a job?
Shannon: I’ll be in no worse place than I would be in town. And I’m pretty damn good at what I do. At the end of the day I have faith in myself to get out of any fix I find myself in.
Imaginary Therapist: Well your mother always did call you self-sufficient.
Shannon: I believe the words were pigheadedly stubborn and strong minded.
Imaginary Therapist: You probably shouldn’t be so proud of that.
Shannon: And yet? I am. It’s one of the nicest things anyone’s ever said to me, and one of the highest complements I consider myself to ever have received.