Therapy: Why I Tell Everyone They Should Go
After spending a year and a half going to therapy, I never imagined the benefits!
Waitress: (Places the check on my table.) "Whenever you're ready."
Friend: "Thank you!" (Places debit card into the folder, alongside my cash.)
Me: "Wait!! How on Earth are they going to split our check if I'm paying with cash and you're paying with a card??"
Friend: They just will! Don't worry!
This dinner with a friend changed my life forever and began my journey to better mental health. After much confusion on my part to understand basic bill-splitting at a restaurant, I broke down in tears about all of the things in my life that were going wrong. My dear friend listened, validated how I was feeling, and urged me to get help. She put me in touch with a therapist at our local community college, and this man proceeded to change my life. It was not easy. I had to put in a lot of work emotionally to get to the core of why I was bothered by so many things, why the things I enjoyed no longer interested me, and why all of my hopes for romantic relationships seemed to fail. It took over six months for me to feel truly comfortable with this therapist, and it took me even longer to divulge information about my ambiguous teenage relationship that left me with emotional scars and pain. I thank God every day for that therapist, and my heart breaks for those who feel they should not go to therapy, or who can't afford it. Some things that happened after a year of therapy include:
- Improved relationships with classmates.
- More honesty with myself.
- I learned to set boundaries with people.
- I learned to like myself.
- I told someone about the teenage boy who harassed me, emotionally manipulated me, and robbed me of my hope for a healthy relationship.
- I finally opened my heart to a healthy relationship.
- I became more mindful of my negative and toxic thoughts.
Even with therapy, I finally opened up to the idea of taking medication to help me with my mental health. To my knowledge, I do not have an official diagnosis. My best educated guess is a combination of depression and anxiety, and that makes sense because many people in my family deal with both, whether they admit it or not. That same friend who encouraged me to go to therapy drove me to my first psychiatric appointment. I have been taking my medication for over a year now and I am so lucky that the first thing they tried worked. I remember how wonderful it felt to love to dance again. To go through my days feeling balanced and able to deal with the blows life dealt me. Getting help was worth it.
What about when I have a bad day? Well, fortunately I know what that looks like now. If I'm having a terrible day and need support, I have a system. First, I text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. Next, I call or text someone I trust like my best friend or my therapist. I also email my professors if I need an extension on an assignment or if I need help with something academic. I pray. I let myself cry and wrap up in a nice blanket. But I make a plan for when I get up. I remind myself that this is not where it ends, and if I doubt that, that's when I call a friend who sees me in a brighter light than I see myself. I let the wave come and then I let it all pass. I have a worksheet I got from therapy that guides me through a list of questions for when I have a thought that isn't productive. With all of this, I've managed to bring my panic attacks to a rare occurrence and my depressive episodes tend to be more mild. I'm still working on not caring what others think of me, but I know I'll get there someday.
*In closing, if you or someone you know is hurting inside and is thinking about suicide, whether it be passively or actively not wanting to live, please call the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.