Everyone Needs to Go See A Therapist, Even If It’s Just For One Session

The first time I went to go see a therapist, I was six years old. I just moved to a new town and started elementary school, but little did I know, two months later my dad would be deployed to Afghanistan. I felt like my whole world was falling apart. I was having problems adjusting to my new surroundings and now my dad was leaving. It wasn’t fair. I remember getting into fights with my mom just because I was so frustrated with the circumstances, but I didn’t know how to communicate that because I was so young. That was my biggest obstacle when I was six.

I would go back to seeing a therapist when I was 13 years old. I felt pressure to look a certain way because I was on a swim team; I disliked the stretch marks I had on my hips and legs and could not understand why I was unable to sprint like most of the girls in my age division. In my mind, I linked this all to my weight and the curves I had. I grew to hate my body which led me to feel depressed. I also had a boyfriend who encouraged me to cut myself to release this frustration I had with myself. My best friend at the time was also depressed, yet I felt a responsibility to take care of her before taking care of myself. I wasn’t okay. That was my biggest obstacle when I was 13.

I am here not looking for pity because of the hardships I faced. Nobody in life has a clear-cut understanding of how to handle difficult situations or trauma. I had no idea how to handle the deployment of my dad and did not know appropriate self-care techniques. I had to learn that it is healthy to cry and that it is better to surround myself with a few people who care deeply about me, rather than a lot of people who did not look out for me. However, I wouldn’t have come to these realizations without the help of my therapist. Everyone needs to go see a therapist at least once in their life.

Society has painted this stigma that those who go to therapy are crazy. I believed it. Each time I saw a therapist, it took me a while to even open up about the issues I was going through because I thought nothing was wrong with me. I recognized that I was sad and even felt depressed, but I was under the impression that everyone goes through rough patches. I thought it was something that I had to just live with and grow from. What I didn’t realize is that I would need help along the way.

When my therapist picked up that I wasn’t being 100% truthful during my sessions, she explained how we, as a society, should all view therapy. Saying that you are not okay is the first step we all have to take before even getting the help we need. When we break a bone, we don’t just ignore the situation; we have to recognize the pain we feel and go seek professional help. The pain associated with mental health may not always be physical, but recognizing when something is off is essential to living a full life. There aren’t surgeries we can undergo to fix our depression or anxiety, because each case is different. She also pointed out that a therapist is just like a life coach: someone who has the specialization in different mechanisms to handle life.

Yes, it would be awesome if we were all born with an intuition on how to go about life, but that is unrealistic. Therapists are here to help. Just like a plumber when we have a broken pipe, therapists are here to help figure out what is wrong and how to fix it.

High school for anyone is a rollercoaster of emotions. It is a place of competition for popularity while trying to get into colleges so we can advance in our lives. Personally, I never felt like I belonged in high school, and by my junior year I was over it. All I wanted was to be in college, working towards a career and living far away from my hometown. I wanted to be living in a city and away from all the drama. The whole “high school is the best time of your life” trope never made any sense to me. I didn’t party because frankly, I hated the majority of my classmates. I didn’t fit in with them, so I hung out with maybe two or three people regularly and that was it. I stuck to myself and worked hard in my honors and AP classes, so I could get out ASAP. Part of me even wishes I could have graduated a year early.

For that reason, I continued seeing my therapist throughout high school. Sure, I got caught up in the typical high school drama and experienced instances of bullying, but I learned how to cope and confront these issues so I wouldn’t feel like they were ruining my life. My therapist pointed out that I was validated for disliking high school because I had so much more potential. High school wasn’t an end for me, it was a door that would lead me to so many other opportunities. It was okay that I didn’t necessarily belong because it all meant I was college-bound. I was on my way to somewhere where I would be surrounded by like-minded people who would understand where I was coming from. She also gave me an outlet to discuss my sexuality and find support I needed that I was lacking from my high school peers.

I am fortunate enough to have the love and support of my parents. However, even they don’t have all the answers I needed. My therapist, on the other hand, has the wisdom to show that there is no model lifestyle we should all strive for. We all accomplish goals and find opportunities at different phases of our lives. The experiences we all face vary from person to person. Someone could graduate from college in four years while someone else may take 10, and that is completely okay. Every single person on this planet is different and may require different tools and techniques to combat and overcome the obstacles we face.

My therapist gave me skills I was able to apply when going to college. Unfortunately, when I originally chose to attend a university in Philadelphia, I could no longer see her, but the lessons I learned from our sessions helped me tremendously once I was out on my own. I was able to pick up moments of crisis and find the resources I needed to help resolve the issues I was facing. She made me aware that homesickness was something we all have to go through, but I would overcome it. The life skills I obtained helped me succeed through my freshman year of college. I felt unstoppable.

Now in my sophomore year of college, I’ve had to come back to reality and realize that I am not unstoppable. Life throws curveballs at us and we do not know how to handle every situation. 2018 was probably the toughest year of my life. I felt like I was the loneliest person in a crowded room wherever I went. I second-guessed my friendships because of trust issues and felt like isolating myself. November was when things just seemed to hit the fan; I called my mom crying almost every night for two weeks leading up to Fall Break because I felt so miserable. I was having problems sleeping, didn’t care about school anymore and just felt trapped in a state of constant anxiety. I was far from okay but I chose to ignore it because I thought I was just going through a rough patch. I was reverting back to my old thought processes when it came to handling my anxiety and depression.

Therapy varies from person to person. Some people need more intensive help like medication while others just need talk therapy or even group therapy. It all depends on what you feel most comfortable with, as well as what your therapist recommends. There is also nothing wrong with trying out different therapists. You should feel open with your therapist to build that connection where you can vent about issues you are facing, so you may need to try one or two different therapists before finding your “match”, and that’s okay!

It comes down to this: the life skills I had when I was in high school worked then, but as I get older, I need to learn new skills. Life is about constantly readjusting and self-reflecting to better ourselves and progress. And that may even require going back to therapy. I don’t believe I will always need a therapist, but saying I will never see one is like saying I will never go to the doctor for my annual physical exam. We all have a duty to ourselves to take care of our mind, body and soul.

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