My first time was in college. I was embarrassed and ashamed for needing to do this, so I didn’t let anyone know. Soon I stopped. It was more hassle than help. I tried again 10 years later. I was stuck in a job I hated, lived in a state where I knew no one, and desperately wanted a baby. It was working some but I knew I was still holding a lot back. Then I got pregnant and my husband, well it was rocky. I was lost and scared. It got me through.
Fast forward to two years ago. My marriage is crumbling. I am in a new city and home with minimal family and friends. I would to try anything to keep my life how it was. I did it again. And haven’t stopped.
Therapy. Talking to a stranger. Sitting on a couch and pouring my heart and soul to a professional counselor. Exposing my deepest fears, shortcomings, hopes, dreams, and heart. It’s hard. It’s scary. It’s emotionally exhausting. It’s a crucial element to my survival. From day one of being treated for depression and anxiety, my doctors always encouraged talk therapy as part of my treatment. I was always open to the idea and gave it some time and effort. But up until this divorce, I did not understand that it is vital for me.
In the beginning months of my separation, I made weekly appointments. I lucked out and on my first try I found a therapist that worked. Currently I see her every three weeks but I know I can see her whenever I feel I need too. My person is a counselor. She is not able to prescribe a medication but I do value her opinion on the different medications that are available for me and my illness.
I have had to shed myself of this shame I carried around regarding counseling. Now, when someone asks me advice, the first thing I say is start counseling. Find a therapist. Talked to your doctor and ask for suggestions. Give it a good try. Because it helps. A lot.
Here is a few reasons why it works:
A neutral party.
Someone who doesn’t know you outside of that room. They are your champion. Supporting, encouraging, and helping. Yet they will give hard advice when needed. Plus, she has given me so many new ways to view an event or issue. Helping me to overcome certain struggles or obstacles.
She has my back.
Honestly, it is really nice knowing that everything I say to her will never leave that room. She is my cheerleader. Everything that she does is for me. For my well being. For my benefit. For my healing process. Yes, I pay her to be that for me, but I know that she is a therapist because she wants to be that for me. She cares for me.
Nothing is forced.
We move at my pace. We talk about the things I want to talk about. I know I am able to share hard truths and it will not be thrown back at me. If I need a little push here or there, it is a gentle one. When the world is constantly demanding more and more of me, I can walk into that room and know I will not be asked to give more than I can.
Therapy isn’t easy. It breaks you down. Opens your soul. Digs deep within you. It makes you face truths. About yourself. About other people you love. About the life that you are living. It demands honesty. It requires work. It involves vulnerability. Therapy can be emotionally exhausting. I admit I don’t always want to go. There are days I dread going. I want to play hooky so badly. Yet I go. I talk. I work my way through my emotions. And dammit, I always feel better. Maybe not immediately. In the end, I am glad I went.
Therapy is part of my self care. The best self care I spend money on, actually. I have heard every excuse why someone doesn’t go to therapy. It didn’t work for me. It is too expensive. I don’t have the time. I went for a bit but then I was good. I don’t believe any of them. Why? I have to make the time, pinch the pennies, and find a way to make therapy possible for me. But therapy is work. Sometimes more work than someone is willing to give.
I would not be where I am today without counseling. It has assisted me with healing, creating boundaries, finding a voice, and facing my fears. Also, my therapy motivates me in my mental illness journey. I believe in the benefits it provides me. I believe in what it can offer you as well. If you allow it.
“Nothing will work unless you do.” Maya Angelou