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What I Keep in My 'Therapy Drawer'

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Every day starts with a bonk on my head against the sprinkler (a pleasant reminder of my proximity to the ceiling), an awkward backward crawl down the ladder and a forceful opening of my eyes.

I sheepishly throw myself into the shower, sometimes with my socks still on, and lather myself in watered down shampoo, because I forgot to go to Walgreens again. I shower for one song and then soak the floor with my long blond hair while simultaneously letting the second song come to an end and setting my intention for the day.

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Typically, I dress and re-dress until what I am wearing is suitable. Then I straighten my hair if I feel like being confident. Oh yeah — don’t forget about the four medicine cocktails and some preventative Advil for any silly shenanigans throughout the day. I quench my thirst with our apartment’s tap water and typically pound an RX-No B.S. bar for the morning and await lunch (you know that you are meeting an athlete when they use “pound” as a synonym for “rapidly eat a lot of food”).

Another morning, another bonk, another prescription medley — just like every other day. But today, my mental health has plans of its own. Today I turn to my mental health (or therapy) drawer as a lifeline when I can’t be it for myself. A summer day with nothing to do (OK fine, I called in “sick” to work, can you blame me?) can mean very different things depending on what I’m feeling. A free day when I’m feeling manic quickly turns into finding three dozen things to scribble onto my tea soaked piece of paper. When I am feeling depressed, my list contains things I want to do, like paint, and things I want to do but won’t do, like laundry. I can’t tell you the last time I changed my sheets (sorry that was probably too much information) and the last time I painted when feeling down. No matter where I am on my scale of mood — either plagued by mania or depression — I intend to rely on my lifeline by keeping myself busy with objects from my therapy drawer.

Over the years, my therapy drawer has developed into a reservoir of resources. I got the idea from professionals, friends and books about four years ago. It started out as a little bin and then over the years, I accumulated so many ideas that it became a drawer. More specifically, it is my treasure chest of proven resources, reminders personalized to me, artifacts that make me laugh and objects that make me cry. I have added things and subtracted things from the drawer. The objects removed were because they no longer soothed me. This drawer is far from private; I love to share it with friends and family because it exhibits what healthy coping looks like. Most people are fascinated by the fact that I have an entire drawer dedicated to toys at the age of 22. This drawer is about half a foot deep, three feet long and two feet wide. The drawer is packed to the brim with arts and crafts, some snacks and some “reminder objects.”

Your therapy drawer can be as serious or silly as mine. I use cough drops when I am convinced that I am sick and juggling balls when I feel like a clown. I use objects like popsicle sticks to remind me that creating things is fun and I use envelopes as a reminder that I love writing letters to friends and family. I have important items, like A+ tests and papers when I feel inadequate and a suicide prevention line when things are dreary. I have tea bags for when I am too hyped for bed and family photos when I feel like reminiscing. The drawer also has the latest fidget fads like spinners, putty, stress balls, splat balls and fidget rings.

This toy box has been more than just a box of toys; it has been my support system when I have been suicidal and my chill pill when I have felt manic. Your own therapy drawer may end up being a shoe box under your bed, an entire walk-in closet or, like me, a literal drawer. But finding those objects that speak to you — that ground you when you’re having trouble grounding yourself — will be an experience entirely your own and one you’ll be glad of. Because trust me, you never know when you will need a lifeline.

GettyImages via Archv

Originally published: November 20, 2018
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