In fact, I have been seeing my therapist for a while now, and it has been such a rewarding process. Falling into a mild depression drove me to start therapy because I was in need of guidance on a few life-altering decisions. Nevertheless, therapy is not restricted to people who are depressed and/or have major problems. It is perfectly fine to see a therapist even when you are in a good place in life. They are trained professionals who know how to council you on all important aspects of your life such as personal and professional decisions, relationships, and self-development.
I was particularly motivated to see a therapist after an acquaintance of mine told me about her experience. She needed some help recovering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Her therapist treated her through something called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) and AEDP (Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Pyschotherapy). EMDR Therapy is meant to treat PTSD from traumatic experiences such as military combat, physical assault, rape, or other trauma (www.webmd.com), and AEDP is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on healing-oriented techniques (www.goodtherapy.org).
According to her stories, these techniques were so powerful that she gradually learned to let go of the hurt and anger caused by her trauma. Seeing such a positive change in her motivated me to do something about my anxiety too. Just like her, I was also in an extremely unhealthy relationship, and could not understand whether I should stay or leave. The problems from this relationship had gone unaddressed for so long that living in the toxicity became second nature for me.
I must confess that I was very hesitant to see a therapist initially; not because of some stigma attached to it, but because I genuinely did not think I needed it. After a lot of convincing from my big sister, I finally saw one. Eventually, the benefits of therapy started making complete sense to me. When talking to friends and family about my problems, they will always have some bias because they are emotionally invested in our relationship. On the contrary, my therapist does not know me or the individuals I talk about, so she has no personal gain in advising me. Her opinion and advice are completely objective, and that is why I continue to see her.
While I initially approached my therapy sessions with rigid formality and composure, I reached a breaking point during my fourth visit. I understood that any traumatic memories I have will always be there because I cannot go back in time and change anything. But my therapist’s goal is to desensitize me from those flashbacks so that those memories don’t bring me anxiety and anger. That fourth session was so enlightening and intense that I started to scream, curse, and bawl my eyes out for over one hour. Prior to that I never realized how poisonous my bottled-up emotions had been for years.
By nature, I am someone who does not like to cry in front of others because I do not want to be perceived as a victim. I was called a victim on a regular basis in that previously toxic relationship for so long that anytime I felt like crying, I told myself to ‘just get over it.’ But finally crying in front of someone helped me relieve the heavy burden I was carrying in my heart for so many years.
It really saddens me when people criticize therapy and/or underestimate mental health. I believe being in therapy should be normalized. Therapy has helped me tremendously not only in making huge life-altering decisions, but it has taught me to recognize my courage and how to deal with my professional and personal relationships.
Therapists are professionally trained in observing and treating human behaviors. They can identify negative patterns and cycles that we can’t. You just need to make sure you are matched with the right one. They are basically a life coach. I admit that counseling, therapy, and any type of “treatment” can be intimidating because you do not know what to expect or what you will hear. But once you open up, you will realize the benefits.
Today, I still see my therapist and plan on continuing my sessions for a long time. Every Saturday morning, I show up to my appointments with makeup fully done but leave with my mascara and eyeliner smeared all over my face from crying so much. But you know what? Crying to her has been extremely healing for me. The sessions are that one time per week where I let myself cry guilt-free. I am so thankful that I was matched with such an incredible and wise therapist; I sometimes wonder where I would be in my life if I had not started seeing her. She is one of the individuals I recognize and thank in my book’s acknowledgement page.
So, as we dedicate the month of May to raising awareness about mental health, let’s take the first step in helping ourselves and/or someone else. Please do not feel embarrassed or hesitant to see a therapist as part of maintaining your mental health. If you or anyone you know is falling into some sort depression or confusion about life, I strongly encourage you to seek help. If you want to know my therapist’s name, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be happy to help.
Thanks for reading!