I sat there in my chair, shaking my leg with my laptop opened to ‘Mindpeers’, a newly discovered website that functions as your therapy assistant. Therapy has always been an intriguing concept to me, something that I wanted to experience even if I didn’t feel an exact need for it. However, in due time, I ended up feeling the need for it due to grappling issues with anxiety, time management, and overwhelmingness. I wanted to figure out what I was feeling, the reason for it, and how to navigate through it. Thus, I ended up signing for it. After having attended six sessions, I finally decided to share my experience of the same. By sharing my thoughts through this piece, I hope this helps someone in their journey.
I found my therapist through the therapist matching feature on Mindpeers. This was after answering a few basic questions about what I was going through. It wasn’t a quick journey. From the desire to sign up for therapy to booking an actual session- including factors like having a conversation with your parents, paying for the sessions which are typically expensive, and the grind to seek help- it all took great time and effort. But as I took a step towards my first session, I could feel a weight lifting off of my chest. I finally felt I was doing something for myself. I felt I putting an effort into finding the answers to the questions that I had buried within me for a long time.
The point at which you FIRST think, ‘I wonder if I should get some help’ is the best time to reach out.Dr. Lisa Merlo, licensed psychologist and Director of Wellness Programs at UF College of Medicine
As I sat down for my first session, I was looking forward to it so much that there was an air of excitement around me. This was quite an unexpected feeling. However, when I joined the meeting, I saw how it transcended into a contrasting tangent. As the session began, we started with questions about me, the life I lead, my family and friends, and why I decided to start therapy. Although these are some pretty simple questions, I found myself tearing up with a lump in my throat as everything that I never spoke about was put into words. Questions that no one had ever asked me were put in front of me, that too in the least overwhelming way possible. Even though there was a swamping feeling that was trying to take over, I had it in my mind that I wanted to talk more and speak as much as I could. This was especially important as I am someone who eloquently expresses with spoken words. Post the session, I felt good. It felt like a long journey had begun, but at least it had begun.
I have spoken to a lot of people about their therapy experience and many of them don’t seem to have good first sessions. From not being able to talk as they break down into tears to simply not feeling comfortable in the space, every person’s experience with therapy is distinctive. This is based on expectations, emotions, feelings, perspectives, etc. The progressive side of society has made us believe that therapy might be a cure-all. That just starting the process might fix everything. But I believe that this is a false expectation. Sometime in the future, I too feel that therapy will give me the answers I am looking for. But at the same time, I want to go in with the motive to heal myself and not ‘fix’ myself. I want to understand the process.
One essential question my therapist asked me was whether I found it to be a place I wanted to invest my time, money, and energy into and that if I found myself wanting to do so, then I must give it a shot. They also told me that sometimes it’s not about the concept or act of therapy, the client and therapist might just not align or have an appropriate dynamic for growth. And that’s completely okay. To quote them, “There is no bad therapist and no bad client, it’s simply a difference.”
Dr. Carol Bernstein, Professor and Vice Chair for Faculty Development and Wellbeing at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine, emphasized that it is important to not treat mental health like the “neglected stepchild of healthcare” and instead to always “make sure to take care of your emotional needs as well as your physical needs.”
For anyone out there who’s wondering and questioning if they want to try therapy out, I would say go for it. Make sure to take your time, prepare yourself, and make that decision with due diligence. Whatever helps you to be more at peace, happy, and a create better you should be prioritized.
This personal experience came from a place of raw feelings, emotions, confusion, and curiosity. I have tried to put into words the beginning of my journey toward self-exploration and self-understanding in hopes that it might serve as a sign for someone who might need to do something for themself but is unable to take the initial step. I hope it doesn’t take as long for someone as it did for me to break taboos while prioritizing themselves on their journey of exploring and caring for themselves! I hope that my journey helps someone take that first step.