Dear, guys – welcome back to Letters From Liz.
April has become such a special month for me because I decided to seek therapy two years ago this month, on this exact day. The day was definitely the start of a new chapter in my life that I continue to live by until this very day!
For a little background on those who may not know, I decided to seek therapy in 2018 due to the fact that I was experiencing some really intense anxiety during my time in grad school. After silently suffering for most of my grad school career with high levels of anxiety, stress, and depression, I decided that the way to take care of myself was to seek professional help and talk about my issues with someone unbiased, and someone that is willing to help me find new ways to cope and challenge the toxic things in my life.
In the beginning, therapy was something that was hard to adjust to. To have the time to talk about my issues and things that I never spoke out loud before was intense and a lot of that heaviness carried onto me during my day. I was now even anxious about getting anxious, my anxiety attacks were more frequent than they ever have been. I vividly remember having one of the worst anxiety attacks one night before going to my ex’s place for the night because I was afraid of leaving home. It was that bad, y’all.
Not only was it difficult to transition to going to therapy and getting comfortable with sharing personal things about my life, I had to realize the fact that not only did I need therapy to talk things out, but I also needed to start taking medicine as well.
Therapy, in the simplest way, helped me realize all of the unhealthy methods I had for coping in my life and all of the other unhealthy things in my life that contributed to my anxiety and depression. It made me realize that I knew more than I allow myself to admit, and it gave me some perspective on things that I couldn’t see while going through it. Sure, therapy has made me realize that I had a lot of toxic traits, that I had unhealthy views on love, and I lost a lot because of my newfound awareness of myself and my behavior, but if anything recharges me after a long and stressful week, it’s simply just having the safe space and that one hour of the week to unwind and let everything out.
With therapy, I’ve learned just how to see my social anxiety and my depression and how to not only accept it myself but to allow those around me to accept it as well. I learned how to embrace the bad times and let them be because they teach me what I need to do in order to get out of them in more efficient ways.
Whenever I speak about therapy to those around me, I get the question of “are you going to rely on therapy your whole life?” and I always felt sour about it. Therapy is not just an outlet for those who have mental health illnesses or disorders, and to this day it’s a myth that everyone still believes in. Therapy does not mean you’re “crazy” and it doesn’t mean that it’s not something that people who are “normal” (what truly is considered normal anyway) shouldn’t look into. The fact of the matter is most of us — if not all of us — need a time and place where we could unwind, reflect, and truly think about our actions, behaviors, and our patterns and understand why we do them in the first place. It’s an hour of the week that focuses on the things you don’t normally get to focus and talk about, and with us living busy lives, it’s well needed to just go to therapy and relax and talk to someone. So, will I “rely” on therapy to make me feel better for the rest of my life? Probably not, but if it does, who cares if I’m providing that time to take care of myself?
So no matter the circumstances, I will always recommend therapy to those who ask me if they should go. Again, you don’t have to be depressed, moody, anxious, or sad to seek out therapy; you don’t need some major traumatic thing in your life to go and seek it. You could just simply be having a tough patch in life and want another opinion to help you get through it. It doesn’t have to be as serious as we make it out to be, and I learned that once I started going to therapy. All the taboos you hear about therapy are quickly debunked once you attend therapy for yourself and find a therapist that you fit well with. Don’t write off therapy because someone else’s experience wasn’t that great, and don’t expect your experiences to be as great as one person makes it out to be. Everyone is different, and you’ll never know what personalized experience you’ll have if you don’t try it for yourself.
So, here’s to two years of therapy. I honestly have to thank my therapist, Cathy, for helping me get to the place I am now. Through the highs and the lows, she’s helped me through them and helped me learn parts of myself I never knew could exist in this world. I am who I am today because of her guidance, her faith in me to make the right choices in life, and for allowing me to have the time and space to speak my mind.