Have you ever wondered if therapy might be for you?
I’ll start by saying that I am not currently seeing a therapist, nor do I assume to know anything about therapy, really. I am, possibly like some readers today, just pondering the possibility of seeking a little assistance. In light of the new year and a heavy self-reflection of 2015, I am trying to be brutally honest with myself…y’know, wear my heart on my sleeve…look into the dark corners that have been ignored for the last 20 years. All my life experiences — both the wonderful and the ugly — have taken up considerable space, and I’ve found that I molded myself accordingly. I’ve had pain in my life, therefore I have walls…guarded with little defensive monsters that sometimes aren’t so nice or smart…or cute. But all joking aside, pain piles up and gets pushed down inside of us, and ultimately (and sometimes unknowingly) creeps out in various ways.
Lately, therapy is a topic constantly shared among my friends and me. Why? Well, I’m not too sure. Maybe it’s the holidays or wanting to start fresh in the new year, but I think we’re all a little tired of feeling like a product of our circumstance. We want to feel empowered, to take control of ourselves in the most healthy way possible. And if counseling will help us do that, then we’ll explore it.
Haley, one of my dear friends (who you’ve actually met before here) starting going to therapy when she was a teenager. She went for eight years, on and off, and then stopped cold turkey. “I thought I was ‘fixed.’ And as I became an adult, I was able to navigate life pretty easily and it became less necessary,” she recalls. But as we all know, life unfolds in the most unexpected of ways and experiences can begin to pile up once again. Now 20 years later, she has graciously opened up and is sharing her story:
“After countless failed relationships, a short stint in a mind-altering philosophy and countless incomplete tasks piling up around me, I started to feel like I fell down a well — no rope, no hope. I was too ashamed to say the word, but too tired to hide it any longer. I couldn’t talk about it with my family, my closest friends. I couldn’t even say it aloud. IT was bigger than me. It is my battle with severe depression. Admitting that I have something inside me that can take me down without a moment’s notice, something that tells me lies, isolates me, keeps me on a roller coaster of highs and lows, something that can drag me down so slowly that I wake up one day feeling as though I weigh 500 pounds. Let it all burn down around me…I cannot move.
“My depression was tearing my relationship apart, and my boyfriend (albeit, terrified by the sight of this sack of tears) told me to talk to someone — anyone — but most especially my best friend (yeah you, Joanna) and let her see. When I talked to her, she didn’t give me advice, tell me that this is “normal”, that it’s hormones, or the season…all the things that people said to me before. All the things to dismiss how badly I was hurting, and make me even more ashamed. She just listened. She sat with me. She let me cry, but never left my side. Having a witness was like looking into a mirror for the first time and I decided I didn’t want to live this way anymore. I asked around, I picked up a phone, I found the money and I drove to see a therapist. All from someone who couldn’t get up to walk her dog. I had hit rock bottom but I scooped up the last bit of fight I had in me.
“I’m four weeks into cognitive therapy with a holistic approach. I get nervous every time, as if she’s going to tell me I’m broken, and I can’t be fixed. But she doesn’t. She gives me meditation exercises, refocusing tools and, most importantly, hope. I wish I could give a more climactic, perfect wrap-up to this story, but to be able to share this, to put my name on it, to let anyone else who feels this way know that there is hope out there, that’s a pretty fantastic ending.
I don’t know if therapy is right for everyone, but I know that if you’re suffering — I know for a fact — you deserve better, and it’s a great place to start.”
Haley is one of the strongest women I know, and I am so proud of her for sharing her story. She made it a point to share her name and her fashion business because she wants to put it all out there — “no more shame!” she says. If this resonates with you or a loved one, know that you are not alone, that there is help out there, and you are strong enough to ask for it. If you need to speak with anyone immediately, please check out this website. Therapy is not just for those seeking mental health, but also encourages personal (and personality) growth, emotional management, relationships and family life.
For information on an array of therapy treatments, please read this article from Psychologytoday.com.
+Life isn’t always pretty, and sometimes our seemingly insolvable emotional messes may feel too heavy to lift. Know that this is not the case, and that help is just a phone call away.
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