The first thing that therapy did was help me to begin understanding myself and my disorders. Having anxiety or depression and not knowing what it is or what it means is very difficult. However, once you’re diagnosed and taught what it means, it makes things a little easier.
You can know yourself, see the warning signs and symptoms for what it is, and understand that you’re not crazy.
This is necessary for acceptance and growth and happiness despite the disorders.
I truly believe that self-awareness is at the heart of all happiness and success. For with self-awareness, you can recognise what you’re doing and feeling and why. Then you can do something about it.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy helped me to understand perspective. To understand that my perspective can be tainted by my disorders at times. That there is nearly always another way to look at things.
It helped me to trust in a journal and thought challenging. That this is a great way to gain perspective and change my thinking to feel relief.
At the end of the day, anxiety and depression (among other mental disorders and illnesses) makes you believe things that aren’t true and/or warps your thinking. That’s why therapy helped me, it thought me in the beginning stages how to change my thinking, if only momentarily.
As I briefly said before, therapy helped me to challenge my thoughts. I now know, after a long time, not every thought is real or worth my time and attention.
I can now dismiss thoughts, challenge them, change them, and ultimately just question them in ways I couldn’t before. This took time and practice and I’m not perfect at it, but this journey all started with therapy.
Trust in myself
Oddly enough, I trust myself to look after myself because of therapy. Unlike some people, I’m very lucky to have a supportive and mostly understanding family system. However, a therapist helped me in ways that they couldn’t.
You see, a therapist is impartial. They have no emotional attachment to you. No obligation to “save you” like your family wants to. They have no judgement. And so, learning about myself and talking through issues and deep-rooted beliefs with this kind of person, helped me to help myself.
In the UK, therapists are there to teach you how to help yourself. So now, I have the tools and understanding to help myself and yes, over the years, it’s become something I had to help others, too.
I trust myself, if only a little, to get better when I’m low.
These are the main ways in which therapy has helped me. I’ve seen 3-4 therapists in my short life (I think) starting from 16 years old. And I don’t regret it. I’m not ashamed of it. And I do encourage it.
Not everyone gets great therapists like I did, and our system needs more funding and support so that more people have access to it, but don’t dismiss the importance of therapy. It might just change your life.
Therapy, counselling, psychology, it’s not all crap. It’s not just you on a couch talking about your problems, at least not in my experience! Not at all. So, let go of Freudian ideas and get the help you need to change your life and your relationship with your illness/problems.
A therapist didn’t fix me, heal me, or even change me on a large scale. But they were a vital part of my recovery, understanding, resilience, knowledge, and self-support.
And I want that for you, too.