For a long time, I thought that therapy was something to seek when I hit my lowest of lows. I thought I needed a valid (whatever that is) reason for it, as if just wanting to talk to someone wasn’t enough. Therapy was for the suicidal, the depressed, the deeply anxious and people with serious mental health issues and trauma, I told myself. All examples of people around me in therapy had glaringly obvious reasons to need it. Which is to say when a therapist asked them “Why are you seeking therapy?” they didn’t have to pause to think about an answer.
And so, when I went back to therapy recently, I wasn’t sure if I needed it — because I’ve been feeling my own version of fine.
I've had history with therapy, don't get me wrong. In the past, when I hit my lows, a combination of therapy and medication helped me out of the hole and I was grateful for it. I saw value in it when I was feeling down, but beyond that, I didn’t feel like I needed it anymore. I felt all glued back together, and I didn’t need a professional’s help anymore. Or, so I thought.
So, after a long break from therapy, when I recently thought of going back, it took me a bit of thinking. Ultimately, though, I’ve tried to reframe the way I think of therapy. To think of it as a tool to better myself, and to develop coping mechanisms for tougher days, whenever they come around (and if this year has taught me anything, those days are always right around the corner).
Here’s the thing, though. I found it extremely uncomfortable to restart therapy, without having an obvious big bad reason for it. It’s all well and good for me to tell people that therapy is great and it is for everyone, until I have to force-feed myself the same spiel I preach.
My least favourite thing about going back to therapy was setting up first sessions with therapists, and having to explain why I’m there. While I could have made a list of all the terrible things that have affected me in the past...that’s not why I was back this time, right? The goal was truly self-development. I want to be a better person, cause less harm, find healthier ways to deal with negative emotions and set myself up for success, so that I can take anything challenging that’s thrown at me.
While I was stewing in discomfort, I found that pushing through it and trusting the process actually helped. I took my time in finding the right therapist, set up many first sessions, trusted my gut-feel and found someone who I’m comfortable with, after some trial and error. I found that the therapists that I really vibed with were ones that worked with me to establish what I was looking to get out of therapy, and build a plan around that.
Turns out, in associating therapy with something that comes in and cleans up a mess, I was limiting myself from all the other good stuff to gain from it. I’ve always been fairly introspective and tend to reflect and overthink quite a bit, doing this with a therapist allows me to do that in healthier ways. So here's to learning a bit more about feeling fine.
How have your experiences with therapy been like? Reply to this email, I would love to know.
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