“Courage doesn’t happen when you have all the answers. It happens when you are ready to face the questions you have been avoiding your whole life.” ― Shannon L. Alder
People don’t often realize that the quotes I share on Facebook are quotes I first needed to read for my own sanity. I often struggle with exactly the theme of the quote I post.
I’m not diving into the newest fitness routine or going on a silent yoga retreat or doing a 4 week cleanse. All of these things might also help but for me I need to see someone consistently to talk through what I’m struggling with. I’m going to therapy and I want to talk about it openly in case it helps others do the same. I am just as excited, nervous, hopeful, etc. as one would be doing any of the above other actions (yoga, cleanse, new fitness routine). I’m rebuilding myself and I think it’s an important part of destigmatizing mental illness to talk about therapy and the process of healing.
Too often I talk to friends about therapy in private – rarely do I see Instagram posts with the hashtag #besttherapysessionever for example. Daily I see people actively working to improve themselves in a myriad of ways though and I love it. The fact that therapy isn’t part of that discussion is frustrating and I know has in large part led to me delaying getting help. This is coming from a psych major so I can’t imagine the roadblocks other folks have in the way of them getting the help they might need!
I’ve tried to cope in a thousand and one different ways before I decided to go back to therapy (yes – back). I first went to therapy my junior year of highschool and credit that time/effort to helping me through some of the worst moments of my life. I’ve realized that at the ripe old age of 23 that I’ve learned some bad patterns that will haunt me until I address them and that I cannot address them alone despite what I would call “valiant efforts” to do so. I am too biased to see the ways in which I let myself get hurt. I am too hurt to see past my own roadblocks at times.I keep making the same mistakes twice. I keep falling into the same line of thinking. I’m not loving and taking care of myself as I should. Simply put – I don’t trust myself to protect myself and stand up for what I need. In the same way you need someone to watch your form when you’re learning a new exercise, I need a therapist to help me as I try to form new habits and relationships with those around me. I need someone to keep me accountable and to help me see things anew. I need help and I’m not afraid or ashamed to admit it.
I’m actually excited by it. People can’t help unless you are both open to receiving it and you express you need it. More than anything, I’m eternally thankful I’m in the position where I have the time, ability, and money to even seem this help when so many I know (and don’t know) can’t say the same. Automattic (the company I work for) has amazing benefits and have made it a thousand times easier for me to financial afford to go. Beyond that, working remotely means it’ll be easy to find a time and place that works for me to go to rather than searching for a therapist near my 9-5 job. Simply put, I am privileged to get help and to even know how to find it.
At the end of the day, therapy is about learning more about yourself and really choosing to focus in on the core of who you are. It’s an active choice just as eating healthy, meditating, or exercising is. Like those choices though, there are a million different factors that could possibly thwart or encourage you to make the best decision. With all the knowledge and experience I have, I’m finally ready to make this one for me. For months, I truly haven’t been an active participant in my life and recently I finally feel the agency of my being coming back. I don’t expect therapy to be a quick fix – I know the real work happens outside of the room (it’s only for an hour at a time anyway). I’m not putting a time limit on this. I’m willing to wrestle with this existence of mine for as long as I need to.
In the whole scheme of things though, I’m doing this proactively so that rather than passing on the pain that has landed in my lap, I can let it fade away and find new ways of interacting with the world around me one day at a time. Rather than offering pain to the world, I want to make sure I’m offering love. Ultimately, I feel a sense of responsibility to be better for those around me. This is one of many steps that I hope lead me in the direction.