I’ve been seeing a therapist for the last 6 years. I never thought I would do this, not in a million years but I was tied up in knots, grief, sadness, depression, anger, and a whole lot of other detrimental emotions. I had to do something because I was sinking deeper and deeper.
I always thought, “Why do I need a therapist when I have friends and family to talk to about my problems?” The problem was that my friends and family were too close to the situation. I needed someone who was unbiased and professional. I needed guidance and I needed perspective from an outsider. I needed someone who would be honest with me but wouldn’t judge me, no matter what I told her.
That’s exactly what I got. The first therapist I saw is the same therapist I am seeing now. She has helped me more than I can even express in words. After just 1 year I was in a much better place emotionally and mentally. With each passing year, I have become much stronger and able to cope with the emotions I must deal with on a day to day basis. The issues now are of my pain and mobility, which are just as detrimental as the issues of 6 years ago but I’m strong enough now to handle it. Thanks to my therapist, I have learned a lot of things to help me on my journey and I think I will always hear her voice in the back of my mind guiding me and challenging me. I’d like to share with you those things in hopes of encouraging others to seek therapy if needed because it certainly does help!
- I am able to identify and handle my triggers, those things that cause me anxiety or sadness. I now know how to refocus my attention on other things or prepare myself emotionally beforehand.
- I have learned several different methods of breathing to help me to relax or calm down when I become anxious or even when I need to fall asleep.
- I learned that I do not have to engage with people who are being belligerent or unpleasant in some way. I do not have to participate in confrontational conversations, nor do I have to take someone else’s abuse or accusations. I hold the power to walk away or not respond. I end conversations that are rude and condescending. Why perpetuate the problem?
- I have learned that I am my own worst enemy! I am always second-guessing myself, making unrealistic demands of myself, comparing myself to others, over-thinking, and I’m very critical of everything I do. I have learned to curtail the urge to do these things! It’s hard sometimes, but I realize that I don’t have to be perfect.
- I have always known that you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves. But what I didn’t realize was that it was ok to NOT be someone’s go-to person for help and advice. I learned that those people sucked the energy right out of me and that I had the right to take care of me and say, “NO.” I let go of toxic people and made my life easier.
- I learned that my grief and sadness were valid. I had been through the wringer, as they say, and I had been carrying so much guilt and shame for things that #1) I didn’t do and #2) that were beyond my control. My therapist validated my feelings and helped me to realize that I could let go of those emotions because the guilt and shame were not mine to bear. Validation and a new perspective on things really do help!
- I have always been a people-pleaser. I’ve neglected myself for so many years in the past because I felt that others’ needs were more important. I always considered my children’s needs to be of more importance than my own needs when they were growing up, but there were still times I could have put my needs higher on the list. I have since stopped making everyone else a priority and am focusing on taking care of me! I am not responsible for anyone other than myself. My kids are grown and can take care of themselves. It’s time for me to take care of me. Of course, I still look out for my Dad. He’s almost 82 years old and needs a watchful eye at times, but for the most part, he takes care of himself.
- I’m an analytical thinker. I use information and evidence, as well as my own personal experiences to solve problems and form my own opinions. I am a logical thinker, so when people do stupid things it blows my freakin’ mind! I try to see both sides of an issue, which most people refuse to do – they believe what they believe and there is no room in their minds for any other position or way of thinking. I learned with the help of my therapist, that having an analytical mind creates conflict in that I can’t bond with others who don’t think as I do. Does that make sense? It’s very difficult for me to create friendships with people who don’t see things the same way I do. And that’s OK. I don’t dislike those people, I just can’t bond with them in the way that I would with someone of like-minded thinking.
- I have learned that it’s ok to cry. I grew up being ridiculed for being sensitive and for crying. Thanks, Mom. To this day, I avoid movies, songs, situations (like funerals, even weddings) because I feel ashamed to cry, especially in front of others. My feelings are just as important as anyone else’s and if I feel like crying then so be it. At least I can show sympathy and empathy for others, which is more than I can say for some people.
- Throw away the “should have, would have, could have” mentality. I’ve had this thought many times when I was dealing with past issues. It does nothing but waste time. This is a negative, unproductive way of thinking. The past is the past. It’s best to look forward and focus on the here and now. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck in a place you don’t want to be. My therapist is a wise woman. She brought me out of that place and I’m not going back. EVER.
So, these are just some of the things I’ve learned seeing my therapist. Of course, most of them I already knew (and I don’t know if this will make sense to you) but I was unaware. I was unaware of what I was doing and not doing in regards to my own mental health. Now I am more mindful of what I’m doing and thinking, and I am committed to myself.
Because I’m worth it. And so are you. If you are struggling, please don’t be ashamed or embarrassed to seek out help. You are worth it!