Happy Tuesday, my beautiful people! It’s been quite an interesting week to say the least, and I’m quite proud of the fact that I managed to put up two other pieces of content besides my regular weekly post. If you didn’t get the chance to see those posts, then you need to go read my bit of flash fiction (which will be continued this Friday) and watch my YouTube video where I discuss arts in the education system.
I’m closing up a small chapter of my life right now, working my way through finals, and getting ready to move back to my parents’ country farm for the summer. It will be a nice change for a few months before I come back and dive headlong back into the fray that is officially my final drive before graduation.
While I mentioned this multiple times in passing over the course of the last few months, I never outright told anyone that I started going to therapy for my mental health. But since last week was my final session for the semester/summer, I decided now would be a good time to have a chat about my experiences and how they helped me in my daily life.
I spent quite a bit of time searching around town for reputable psychiatrists and therapists, comparing reviews and looking into the systems and beliefs of each one. That was the easy part. The hard part was looking at my best options, choosing one, and then making my first appointment. Particularly as someone with fairly severe anxiety, that was not fun in the least. I ended up choosing a faith-based counseling center that had nothing but good reviews and the therapist that I chose was well-certified in multiple areas, including Biblical training as well as psychological and counseling degrees.
Even after I made the appointment, I still had a lot of fear about how it would go. I personally know several people who have had awful experiences with counselors and therapists and I think I was fully prepared to hate the entire process. On the contrary, I was blown away with how happy I was with the arrangement. My therapist (I’ll call her C) was absolutely amazing, very understanding and kind, and always seemed to have the right solutions and questions.
The decision to start is the hardest one. If you’re following my social media pages, or know me in person, you know that I am incredibly passionate about reducing the stigmas that surround mental illnesses. But even for me, when I was first presented with the idea that maybe I should get therapy for myself, I blew it off. I didn’t think that my problems were severe enough to warrant those measures, and the thought of accepting that I needed help meant that I was broken. The truth was, and if you struggle with mental health, then hear this, please! I was not broken and while my problems may not have been severe in the grand scheme of things, they were severe to me. Choosing to seek help does not mean you are a failure, even though that was how I felt.
One session was all it took to completely change my mind. I was not a failure in the least, in fact I was a huge success because I had taken the first step towards helping myself handle my life better.
Having regular sessions is a huge motivator. In many instances, at the end of a session, C would give me one or two things that she wanted me to work on before our next session. More often than not, these were things that I knew logically and could probably have figured out on my own, but the pressure of knowing that she would ask about them the next week was so incredibly helpful. Actually, using pressure isn’t even a good word because it wasn’t as though I was worried about not completing the things that she asked me to do. Sometimes it was helpful if I didn’t end up doing what was asked of me because we would then talk about the mental processes that had kept me from moving forward, and figure out what was really bothering me. For this reason, even though one could say that its expensive and unnecessary to pay money every week for someone to tell you things that you “already know”, I believe that it was worth every last penny that I paid. I went on nearly regular weekly intervals, and sometimes on particularly bad weeks, I would ask for a second session.
Everyone has a different experience. Like I said at the beginning of this post, I know several people who have had awful, horrific experiences with counseling and psychiatric therapy. My own experience has been nothing short of everything that I needed it to be. Over the course of the semester, my level of trust in my counselor increased and it became much easier to explain things and talk through problems. But I would be lying if I said that I’m not a little apprehensive about going back, because C is moving to a new city and I will be unable to go back to her in the fall. This means that if I wish to continue next semester, I will be going to a new counselor. And even with the strong recommendations that she left me with, I still feel worried that it may not be as good the second time around. So I understand the apprehension that a lot of people have going into this experience. But I think that it can also be incredibly helpful in many circumstances, and I highly encourage the practice.
If you have had an experience that you feel comfortable sharing, please feel welcome to talk to me, whether it be in the comments or in a private email. If you read my Instagram post, then you know how much this subject means to me.