I wanted to take some time to open up about my experience of going to therapy. It’s been about a year now since I started seeing a therapist for my anxiety and it really has been one of the best decisions I ever made. I’m always advocating for mental health awareness and to end the stigma around mental illness, but the truth is, it took me quite some time to make the move and actually seek out a therapist. For a long time, I thought I could deal with my anxiety/stress on my own, but it started to feel like it was weighing me down and defining who I was.
I wanted to share a few things that I’ve learned in therapy and continue to learn with each session.
Mental health is just as important as physical health. This one was really tough for me to actually accept. Making the move to see a therapist was me making the decision to finally put myself and my mental health first (it’s so easy for us to put others first). It was so natural for me to go in for my annual doctor checkups and get my flu shot, but taking care of my mental well-being took me swallowing my pride and letting go of my ego so that I could admit I needed support.
Therapy makes you feel validated and safe. A therapist is like a best friend that validates your feelings/emotions and listens to your deepest darkest secrets. Honestly, just having someone listen and validate your feelings is huge.
Crying and swearing feels really good. There’s just something about letting out all of your emotions (even ones that have been built up for years). In therapy, you can cry, swear, yell and say whatever it is that you need in order to feel better. A lot of times, it feels nice to just say the words that you have been holding in or thinking of.
Boundaries are difficult but necessary. Whether it’s setting boundaries with a family member, friend, significant other, work, etc., boundaries are necessary. Be gentle with yourself as you work on setting them and don’t get discouraged if you don’t always stick to them. You are a work in progress.
Focus on the things that fill your cup. We often hear the words “self-care”, especially today in the media, but to actually think about what makes us happy, brings our stress levels down and fills our cup is so important. Self-care looks different to everyone and it can also change day to day. I’ve learned that self-care is super important after therapy sessions and that some days are really heavy.
Although some sessions may be heavy and I want to curl up and sleep after, I leave feeling motivated to continue working on myself and discovering who I am and what my core values are. It’s also totally okay to curl up and sleep after (one of my self-care forms).
Lastly, I’ve learned that your mental illness does not define who you. It’s okay to seek help or go on a medication if you need. My therapist has taught me approachable grounding techniques and coping skills that I can use daily as well as when I’m feeling triggered or extra anxious.
Some resources for mental health and how to seek help are below:
- If you are looking for a therapist, you can check your insurance provider’s website for options. You can also ask your primary care provider to give you a referral.