Side note: This is another post from my tumblr blog. I really want to re-post this in hopes of reassuring my readers that going to therapy is okay, and that seeking professional help for mental health issues and beyond is perfectly healthy. Therapy has been one of the most life-changing decisions of my life, but it definitely has been one of the greatest choices I’ve made thus far.
Another side note: I have made edits to this post so it is relevant to my current life.
If you don’t know me very well, you might not know that I’ve struggled with major depression and severe anxiety for several years. You also might not know that I’ve been seeing a therapist for three years now.
After I got hospitalized (one of my blog posts goes into explicit detail about this), I began seeing a therapist almost immediately. Since then, I’ve learned so much wisdom that I’d like to impart on you today!
Here are several lessons that three wonderful years of therapy have taught me:
1. It’s okay to see different therapists if you don’t like the one you are currently seeing.
This one was a difficult concept for me to grasp, mainly because I was too “scared” to tell someone (especially a licensed professional), “This isn’t working out for me.”
I stayed with my first therapist for two months and was uncomfortable throughout each session. It wasn’t my therapist’s fault – in fact, it was nobody’s fault. But I just needed a different style of therapy, and hers wasn’t the one I felt I thrived in the most. So I told my dad, and several months later, I found a new therapist (whom I am still currently seeing).
2. It’s okay to be vulnerable in front of your therapist.
I used to hold in my tears in front of my therapist. It wasn’t until I was overwhelmed with school, distraught from a heartbreak, and unsatisfied with my family life that I broke down in front of her (bear in mind that this was almost after a full year of seeing her). And quite honestly, I wish I cried more often in front of her.
It feels amazing to pour out all of your emotional baggage in front of someone who won’t have any bias towards you. So if you’re currently seeing a therapist or considering seeing one, I highly recommend showing all of your emotions – anger, sadness, elation, confusion, worry – in front of your therapist as soon as you feel comfortable to do so.
3. Meditation helps.
Before I went to therapy, I merely perceived meditation as a religious act. It never crossed my mind that it could also be utilized for strictly relaxation purposes, nothing more. But after months of persistent panic attacks, my therapist recommended meditation to me for the very first time.
Quite honestly, I was taken aback. My instinctual thoughts were, That’s so boring! I’m going to fall asleep. All you’re doing is sitting.
To some extent, I was correct. During my first meditative session, all I did was sit and listen to my breath. Sounds vapid, right?
But the more I did it, the better I felt afterwards. Prior to meditating, I felt as if I had an enormous cloud of negative thoughts looming over my mind. After meditation, however, that cloud gave way to sunlight, leaving me feeling more refreshed and rejuvenated.
I cannot describe the phenomenon behind this. But trust me, meditation does work!
If you’re a newbie at meditation, try downloading the free app called “Headspace” on your smartphone. It offers ten days of guided meditation for just ten minutes. It’s simple, fast, and extremely effective!
4. Consistency is difficult, but crucial.
Overtime, you’re going to get bored of your therapist, without a doubt. I’ve been there, done that.
But continuing to see your therapist – even when there isn’t anything wrong occurring in your life – is still very important. You should still make sure that your mental health is being taken care of, and one of the best ways to do this is is to consistently see your therapist.
I see my therapist every three to four weeks. However, if there is a crisis or if I need immediate assistance, then I will schedule an appointment before that three-to-four-week window is over.
This brings me to my next point, which is…
5. You don’t have to be in a crisis to go to therapy.
There is this huge stigma surrounding mental health and therapy. Many believe that seeing a “shrink” (slang term for a mental psychologist) is something that only “crazy people” do. And the reason I know this is because my parents believed that before.
But – and I ask you to remember this, even if you don’t remember anything else from this post – YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE MENTALLY ILL TO SEE A THERAPIST.
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, therapy is a great option for you. If you’re self-harming constantly and want to find healthier methods of coping with life’s challenges, therapy is a great option for you. If you’re in “perfect” mental health condition and you have an extremely wonderful life, therapy is a great option for you, too.
I know many people who see a therapist and who have never struggled with anxiety, depression, etc. They simply want to keep their mental health in tip-top shape and learn better ways to manage their stress levels, which is an absolutely valid reason to go to therapy.
I’m not attempting to push therapy down your throat. I’m also not forcing you to see a therapist right at this moment. I’m merely encouraging you to realize that “shrinks” aren’t just for people enduring some type of hardship in their life – they’re also for perfectly healthy people who are interested in learning how they can be more “perfect,” healthier people.