After a year and a half of bi-weekly, and yes, at times weekly therapy sessions, yesterday I was finally discharged from my therapist. This feeling was entirely bittersweet for me as I had truly worked my ass off to get to the relatively stable place that I am at today, and I had never been more proud of myself for accomplishing something before. In honor of my discharge, I wanted to write up a personal post about my experiences with therapy and what I've learned in hopes of encouraging others to start seeking therapy and helping break the awful stigma attached to it.
Therapy absolutely changed my life and took me out of a very dark time in my life. When I started therapy I had totally disconnected from myself. I spent my days a shell, hallowed on the inside, going through the motions because I know that's what I had to do. I wasn't showering, I didn't eat, I could sleep for 14 hours straight and not bat an eyelash, and I had no interest in anyone or anything. I had fully disassociated and it lasted for far too long before I grew the strength and courage to start seeking help. The most important part of starting therapy is finding a therapist that fits well with you; you're going to divulge parts of yourself to this stranger in hopes that they can guide you into a better place and you're going to want to make sure you pick the perfect person for that job. I went to PsychologyToday and made sure that I sought out a therapist that specialized in PTSD, Anxiety, and Depression as those were my most prominent issues. After meeting with Julie (my therapist) for the first time, I knew she was going to be the best fit for what I needed and I continued my treatment with her.
Now, you also have to understand that therapy is 500% what YOU make of it. You can have the most prestigious, world-renowned therapist and it isn't going to mean anything if you're not willing to put the work into it. And let me be the first to tell you it's a LOT of work; the entire "getting-better" process is difficult, uncomfortable, and at times unsettling, but if you can knuckle down and put the effort into it you'll prosper more than ever. When I first started, I was worried I'd have trouble opening up to someone because hell, at that time no one in my life knew about my past or what I was going through mentally. By nature, I am someone who internalizes things in order to save an argument, spare someone negative emotions, or just because I feel burdensome for sharing my feelings, but having a totally objective, knowledgeable, stranger to talk to made it easy (and of course now I don't internalize things...or I try not to). Just keep in the back of your mind that this person is here to help you work through your issues and they have nothing but your best interest in mind, working together with them will only make the process that much easier for you. Through my therapy sessions I've been able to learn so much more about myself and why I behave the way I do sometimes, and the beautiful thing about that is that it makes you become more self-aware, and once you are more self-aware you're able to combat your issues more head-on. Therapy has taught me:
- I am not my thoughts
- I have anxiety, anxiety doesn't have me
- It's okay to remove people from my life temporarily, or otherwise, if they're having a negative impact on my mental health
- Sharing my feelings is both important and healthy and it needs to be done, even if it may make someone else feel something negative
- Boundaries exist so I don't get taken advantage of as a person, I need to set boundaries
- It's okay to say no
- It's okay to do what I want to do, even if someone else wants me to do something else
- Always make decisions with my best interest in mind, no one else's
- I can't save everyone and at some point I need to realize when to stop beating a dead horse
- How people treated me in the past does not dictate how I will be treated by others in the future, don't assume everyone has the same malice intentions
- Going along with that, the past is just that, the past. My life is different now and I no longer need to linger in the thoughts from then.
- Sometimes I need to be my own cheerleader, and that means talking to myself pretty often
- I do not need to explain myself to anyone
- If someone is making me uncomfortable I don't have to just deal with it, speak up and use your voice
- I am not weak
- Forcing myself to shower and make myself look presentable actually does help with depressive states, but only if I keep with it
- Even though I hate it, schedule things in the morning when I'm in a depressed state, it'll help pull me out faster
- I am not any lesser of a person because I have anxiety and depression, and yes, someone will love me one day
- I am kind of awesome, I just need to tap into the part of me that says that and suffocate the bitch that tells me how shit I am
And that's only the half of it I'm sure. The moral of the story here is that you can absolutely revitalize your life and find yourself again through working with a therapist. If you have any questions, or want to talk about therapy at all my inbox is always open and available for you to use. Hopefully reading this can encourage you to think about therapy and how it can benefit your life.