Wellll this is a little awkward … to write about why I went to therapy… on the internet. ? But it’s actually something I talk about openly in real life because it’s been a life-changing and helpful experience. And while more people are talking about their own journies to therapy, it still feels a bit taboo and I hope that sharing my experience will help chip away at the stigma of asking for help.
I first went to therapy when I was 16 years old. I was dealing with some anger issues, but not the typical teenage stuff. My parents practically forced me to go and I’m so happy they did. While that therapist ended up not being a good fit in the long run, it set a precedent for knowing when to ask for help.
In high school and college, they teach you things like history, math, meeting deadlines, writing papers, etc. But basic life skills like how to do your taxes or manage your emotions aren’t a part of the curriculum. As life went on and became more complicated, I realized I was having a hard time processing certain life struggles in a healthy way. I was becoming depressed, isolated, and anxious. I thought to myself if I don’t get help, things could get really bad. Just even thinking that thought scared the sh*t out of me.
I’ve always been a go-getter and a pretty motivated person. If I don’t like something, I’ll change it. If something is broken, I fix it. If I don’t know something, I’ll learn about it. So once I realized that I couldn’t handle this on my own, I decided to seek help.
Overall therapy has been life-changing and invaluable for me. I’ve learned so much about myself, my needs, how to manage my emotions, how to process things in a healthier and self-edifying way. But that doesn’t mean therapy is always sunshine and flowers. It’s actually really hard work. If you’re considering asking for help, here are a few things to keep in mind that helped me when starting my therapy journey.
Find The Right Fit
Finding the right therapist for you is like finding the right GYNO. You need to be comfortable with someone getting all up in your business. There are so many different types of therapy and there is not a one-size-fits-all method. Do your research, ask people you trust, and consider what you want and what you don’t want in a therapist. Sometimes that comes by trial and error. But if the first therapist you visit isn’t the right fit, don’t lose hope! As in life, certain personalities match and certain personalities clash. There’s a therapist out there for you that can help you in the way you need.
Allow An Adjustment Period
Your first time in therapy will most likely be awkward. I know it was for me! I don’t know about you, but I don’t make a habit of going spilling my secrets to a stranger, and that took some getting used to. The gamechanger for me was that I decided to be okay with the awkwardness. Once you find a therapist you’re comfortable with it will still take some time to build trust and familiarity. I’ve been with the same therapist for 5 years and there are STILL awkward moments when I feel uncomfortable sharing how I really feel and what really happened. But I look at it this way: I’m paying this person to help me so I know I’m not perfect and they’re legally not allowed to talk to anyone about it, so I might as well say what’s on my mind so we can get it out there and deal with it.
Keep A List
I can only afford to see my therapist twice a month and a lot can happen in the two weeks from when we see each other. I’ve found that keeping a list of things I want to talk about on the notes app in my phone has made our sessions more productive with less awkward downtime as I struggle to remember what I wanted to talk about. I like being able to get as much as I can off my chest.
Talk to yourself like you would advise a friend. Be kind to yourself. Therapy is never a smoothe ride. Have patience, give yourself some grace, and go forth with courage.
Courage doesn’t happen when you have all the answers.
It happens when you are ready to face the questions
you have been avoiding your whole life.
― Shannon Alder