Therapy. I have always been against it. Always.
My mom did the right thing from the start by sticking me in therapy. From a young age she noticed my anxiety, recognized that I needed help, and did everything in her power to get it for me. However, there was one problem: I didn’t want help. She tried for years and years to get me to go, and I put my foot down time after time. It was to a point where she would go in and talk to my therapist while I sat in the hallway hysterically crying because I didn’t want to be there. Talk about needing help, right?
After my first suicide attempt I tried therapy again, and still hated every minute of it. It caused me more anxiety than not, and I think I made it through two appointments before giving up. For me I always thought that if you needed to go to therapy it meant that something was wrong with you, that you were weak because you needed help. I could not have been more wrong, and I wish I would have realized that sooner.
It was April of 2018 and my best friend, Omi, and grandpa had all recently passed away. I was struggling with an addiction that nobody knew anything about, and my soul was really, really heavy. I started researching therapists on my own, realizing that maybe I did need help. I stumbled across a therapist, Elizabeth, who I thought would maybe be a good fit for me (truthfully I chose her because I thought she was pretty and looked like someone I would be friends with.) I researched her a little bit, and then shut down the idea completely remembering my insane reasoning for never wanting to go to therapy before. It wasn’t until after my second suicide attempt and first real blackout moment (I’ll talk more about those later) that my mom said enough was enough. I was in the ER at St. Joseph Hospital and my social worker gave me a list of therapists to contact when I got out, Elizabeth being one of them. My mom called her and I had my first appointment the following week. I went into it so nervous, and quite honestly ashamed that my life had gotten to that point. I came out a different person.
Elizabeth has changed my life in a way I never thought possible. When I say she’s my favorite person (non family member, of course), I’m not kidding. I wish that she knew how much she means to me, because she holds a spot in my heart that nobody else can ever hold. I brought her into my life at my absolute lowest point, and I like to think that she saved me. But I think if I were to tell her that she would just smile, shake her head, and respond with, “Nope. You saved yourself, I just helped.” I see her twice a week now, and those two days are my favorite days of the week simply because it’s ME time. For two hours a week it’s all about me. Sounds a little selfish, right? WRONG. It’s never selfish to take care of yourself. It’s not selfish to put yourself, and your wellbeing, first sometimes. And it’s definitely not something to be ashamed of.
There are two major things I’ve learned since I started therapy. First is that it’s okay to not always be okay. It’s okay to breakdown. It’s okay to struggle. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to feel down sometimes. Just don’t stay there. “If it matters, let it matter. If your hearts breaking, let it ache. Catch those pieces as they shatter, know your hurt is not in vain. Don’t hide yourself from the horror. Hurt today, heal tomorrow.” – Lyrics from my favorite song by Johnnyswim. Elizabeth constantly loves to remind me that negative emotions are there to move you. They aren’t stagnant. They are doing something, something big. It’s up to you, however, to find what that something is. And if you need help doing that, that is perfectly okay. The second thing that I’ve learned is that it’s okay to feel good. Sometimes I struggle with that – feeling good. A silly thing to think, right? Life has thrown me so many curveballs. From divorce, an unnoticed eating disorder, grief on grief on grief, heartbreak, addiction, anxiety, and depression. Sometimes, when I feel okay I don’t want to feel okay. Sometimes, I don’t feel like I deserve to feel happy. And that’s when she steps in. That’s when she reminds me that I am brave, beautiful, loved, and strong. That my feelings are valid, and that I’m not crazy for feeling the things that I feel.
Finding the right therapist can be hard. It can be daunting and defeating when you feel like you just don’t click. But let me tell you, when you finally find the right one it’s the best thing in the world. It’s magical. It’s empowering. It’s life changing. Don’t give up, your person is out there. So today I am here to remind you that you are not weak for going to therapy. You are brave. You are trying. You are healing. You are breathing. You are alive. And today, those things are enough for me. Let them be enough for you, too. If you think you need help, get out there and get it. Don’t be ashamed. If you just need someone to talk to, do it. You don’t have to suffer in silence. And if you’re struggling with finding the right therapist, don’t give up. Your Elizabeth is out there.
Side note: Elizabeth, if you’re reading this, THANK YOU for everything you’ve done for me. Thank you for constantly reminding me that I am enough. For reminding me to be gentle with myself. For letting me be me. And of course for all the music recommendations (Smashing Pumpkins all day every day). You have made me a better person, thank you.