Today, struggling with writer’s block once again, I have decided again to share a personal narrative rather than revolve my post around the more traditional sources of inspiration. I want to talk about therapy and the importance it has in my life and encourage those of you who think you may need it, to get help of your own.
I am sure that there is a plethora of research on the subject, demonstrating the effectiveness of therapy in overcoming past traumas, improving self-esteem, alleviating depression and more, all of which are necessary to realizing true happiness. Rather than dive down the rabbit hole searching for statistics or links to actual studies, today I merely intend to discuss therapy in my own life.
First and foremost, I think therapy works. Having a trained and educated professional, who understands the complexities of the human condition is a tremendous asset. What you get in therapy is an objective person who is there to help you. They are there to help you process and understand your past and current thoughts and feelings, and to guide you on your path to healing and a better future. Your therapist is there for you to be on your side, even when you are struggling to be on your own side, and they will help you get in control of your own life.
It can be difficult to share certain thoughts, experiences, or feelings, because we have shame around the subject. It can be painful to admit a damaging moment in our past, out of fear of judgement from others or because it still causes us trouble today. Your therapist is there to serve in a nonjudgmental capacity, to hear you. Over the last several months I have shared things with my therapist that very few people know about me, and in some cases that nobody knows about me. Things I would be ashamed to tell my friends and family. The great part of a therapist is that they are there for you but that they are removed from your personal life. I happen to think my therapist is a fascinating person that I could probably be good friends with, but in order for the efficacy of my therapy to continue, we need to keep it strictly as a patient-doctor relationship, so that I can tell him things as my therapist that I might be reluctant to discuss with a friend.
I cannot tell you how good it feels to just get some things off your chest. I have shared some painful memories but somehow the act of speaking them suddenly makes me feel less bad. There have been days in therapy where I feel like I just talk for thirty minutes straight without pausing for so much as a breath, and when it ends my therapist nods understandingly and begins to coach me through the best ways to cope.
In addition to merely listening, your therapist will be someone who knows proven techniques. I forget the name of the method here but one thing we do is concentrate on a painful memory and how I felt about it, as we do so my therapist slowly moves his hands back and forth while I focus on it. At first it seemed like voodoo but after several sessions I began to see results. What we were doing was transferring the memory from an unresolved issue triggering anxiety in my fight or flight response and moving it to a more resolved memory, someplace where I could still remember and acknowledge the incidents but where they ceased to bother or upset me, or at least diminished in their ability to do such.
Having a therapist also helps you identify problems in your life of which you may not be aware. For example after a few discussions my therapist indicated that he thought I was exhibiting signs and symptoms of codependence, something that was conditioned in me via childhood and which still affects me today. Painful as it was to accept, he was correct. I often felt certain things about myself that seemed wrong or off, but without a true education on the matter, I would have struggled to correctly identify the problem. Because I sought the help of a professional, I was able to identify my problems and work with my therapist to address and resolve these issues moving forward. That continues to be a work in progress for me but I do not feel that I would have ever seen progress without first identifying the issue. I would likely have existed in that codependent state indefinitely had I not gotten professional help.
We all have experienced traumas in our life, and we all face a wide range of issues, so the recovery process will not look the same for all of us. That being said, I cannot impress on you enough the importance of seeking professional help. I wish to god that here in the United States, we would invest more resources in getting mental help for our society. I know it can be expensive and I truly hate the lack of availability. That being said, if you can afford it, get help, and if you can’t feel free to reach out. I am absolutely not a professional, but I am a good listener and if you have nowhere else to go, you can feel free to reach out to me here if you just need to get something off your chest. Let’s be happy together!