Dear, guys – welcome back to Letters from Liz.
It’s kind of crazy to sit here and reflect on where I was and what my life was like this time last year. I strongly remember winding down on my final semester as a grad student, wrapping up my thesis writing process, and being immensely anxious to the point of no return basically. I wasn’t excited for the future, not even graduating in May and being done with the one thing that caused me a lot of sadness and anxiety. I was worried about everything that was coming, and I remember not being able to handle it anymore. So, one day last April, I decided to seek therapy.
Starting therapy was a major step in the process of getting myself back together. Not only was I trying to just get some professional guidance about finding a job after grad school and learning how to be an adult in life, but it required me to dig even deeper than that, and talk (and relive) some parts of myself that were so deep-rooted, I forgot they existed. Still, I went to my weekly therapy session every Tuesday, which then switched to every Wednesday, and to this day, I am beyond grateful for taking that step towards therapy.
If you’re skeptical about going to therapy on your own, I know how you feel. You feel like you’re so fucked up in the head that now you need a professional to help “cure” you or you feel like seeking therapy is considered a sign of weakness. I know how difficult it is to seek out therapy; for pride’s sake, for hereditary sake, or masculinity sake. It’s extremely hard to swallow your ego and pride and call out for help, but believe me when I say that therapy helps you organize and discuss things in a way that no other individual in your life is going to speak to you about these things. Don’t always assume that your experience with therapy is going to be like everyone else’s, hell, even like mine, but you will never know how it will be if you don’t at least try it out. Sure, therapy isn’t for everyone, but you will never know what type of help you may need if you don’t seek out options for it.
A lot of the anxiety issues I came into therapy with are now things that I’ve overcome. Last year, I had a really bad case of travel anxiety, to the point where I became too afraid to leave the house because I was afraid bac things were going to happen to me. Now? I mean, I don’t travel as late as I did when I was in grad school, but I’m not afraid to get on trains anymore and travel to places even during the day. Of course, with an anxiety disorder, it’s never going to be a “one and done” type of thing; there’s always going to be something that I’m anxious about and that I’m fighting against. But, I’m working through them.
Therapy, in the simplest way possible, has forced me to come face-to-face with things about myself and my life that I never knew still affected me to this day. It has also given me a platform to discuss some of the darkest things in my life to someone whose job is to help me decipher it and help me understand what may be happening. It’s allowed me to carry important mantras in life, like learning to be more assertive and being able to stop seeking approval from others.
To be honest, I really don’t know where I’d be today if I didn’t seek out therapy a year ago. I only have an idea on how life would’ve been like for me: me being extremely happy, extremely anxious, and probably feeling immensely stuck in life and unmotivated. I’d also be engaging in very unhealthy coping mechanisms like hiding my feelings, my emotions, and just being very passive towards everything and everyone in my life. Knowing where I was heading, I would’ve been suicidal for a much longer time, feeling like a burden to everyone in my life and having no one to talk to about these issues without feeling shameful or judged about it.
A year later, and I’m still actively trying to improve myself and be a better person for myself. There’s always something to talk about and work through, there’s always going to be something that I realize about myself that I’ve kept to myself for decades, and there’s always going to be a way to get through the tough times in the most healthy way possible.
I am immensely grateful for my therapist, Cathy, who has been helping me for the last year through some of the hardest and most difficult things in my life. She has been extremely patient and willing to get to know me as a person, and she quickly became such an essential part of my weeks, as well as my life. Although she’s on maternity leave for a couple of months and I’m slowly transitioning to seeing my temp, Andrea, I am still very grateful that these women are available for me to speak my mind, and allow me the platform to finally feel heard.
I’m able to grow into the woman I’m supposed to be with the help of therapy.