When I first started therapy, I was thirteen years old. I despised the process and my therapist. If I’m being honest, I don’t think I was ready for therapy at that time. I knew I needed someone to talk to and sort through things with, but I wasn’t emotionally mature enough to begin the process yet. Then at the age of nineteen, I decided to try again.
I’ve been in therapy consistently for a little over a year now and I love it. While there is nothing like ranting to your girlfriends and having a good emotional breakdown, when I’m talking to my therapist it’s truly a judgment free zone where he can listen, validate my emotions, and help me figure out the healthiest way to move forward.
Some days, there are specific topics I want to address (like anxiety), other days I just need to rant and get my thoughts out there in a safe space in order to take a deep breath and move on. One of my biggest takeaways from therapy so far is that it truly is a unique process to everyone.
One of the major benefits to therapy has been working through my own anxiety (and other mental health topics) and learning self soothing techniques to help me address the situation in my own way. For me, this is usually a brief meditation, focusing on making a snack, or intentionally doing my night time routine in a way that’s soothing to me. These may sound like everyday things, but it’s all about the mindset and intention I have behind doing those activities.
Therapy has also helped teach me how to love and care for myself. I used to live on a (high functioning anxiety) schedule to be done with tasks by a certain time. For example, I used to not let myself have a snack until I reached a certain goal in an essay (even if I was burnt out and had no ideas of what to write at that moment). Now, I recognize that I need to take a brain break – scroll on social media, make a snack, chat with my roommates, etc. – then come back to my essay or homework feeling relieved with a fresh mindset and new ideas. I’ve actually noticed that not only has this helped my mental health, it’s also helped my writing; my essays feel less rushed, more organic, and have well thought out ideas.
As a final note, I want to remind everyone that you are not alone. Over 41 million adults in the United States attend therapy. According to the CDC in the United States, “50% will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime.” If you’re thinking about beginning therapy, understand that you’re not the only person in therapy and that there are options.
In addition to that, understand that not every therapist is a perfect fit. One of the primary reasons I discontinued therapy at thirteen was because I didn’t feel like my therapist understood me. Now, I feel my current therapist understands me, respects me, and that I have a safe space between us. We aren’t compatible with every person, so why should we feel pressured to stick with one therapist that we don’t vibe with? Find someone who understands you and helps you in the ways you need it. You know yourself best, they’re there to help you be your best self.