I go to therapy and that is okay!
Yup! I said it. I go to therapy and that is 100% okay! There is a stigma around going to therapy that often prevents people from going. In 2015, I started a Marriage and Family Therapist program. It was a mandate that students go to therapy throughout the program. When people found out I was in therapy, I would add that it was mandatory for my program. I felt a strong need to justify that I was in therapy.
But, this wasn't the first time that I was in therapy.
In fact, it started two years prior.
After a devastating break up and the loss of my grandma, I found myself struggling to move forward. I realized that I was unable to grieve the loss of either relationship well. I noticed that because of these losses, I was withdrawing from others - afraid that I might lose them also. With the encouragement of a friend, I went to my first therapy session.
In an awkward fumble, I shared all that my heart was carrying. I was angry that God called my grandma home and I was angry that my ex had left in the way he did. I was anxious and fearful of the future. I spent a year with that therapist working through grief, anger and fear. When I decided to stop therapy, I felt lighter, a weight had been lifted and I felt truly happy.
By the time I started graduate school, I felt like I had worked through my childhood/adolescent and young adult problems enough to function well without therapy. This changed half way through the year, as my dad battled lung cancer. I avoided going to therapy because I did not want to deal with the truth: It was possible that my dad could lose his battle and die.
Avoidance does not make it go away.
I thought that because I knew how to conduct a therapy session and because I was learning the theory behind different types of therapy, that I could therapize myself. I thought that with enough reading, google searching and self-talk that I could do it myself.
The truth is, sometimes we really can't do it ourselves.
As my dad's health declined, I noticed my ability to cope with what was happening got harder. The harder I tried to fix myself, to cope with the anxiety and fear, the more isolated I felt. I struggled with coping, so I focused on avoiding. When avoiding my fear transformed into frequent panic attacks, I realized I needed to go back to therapy.
The truth is, when we choose consciously or unconsciously to avoid addressing anxiety, depression, fear, anger or confusion, it isolates us.
I firmly believe that we were NEVER meant to live life alone. That when struggles arise, we should reach out an lean on others. That sometimes that means seeking professional help.
Here are a few reasons why I go to therapy:
I am able to work through personal issues with support from someone outside of the situations.
I receive reassurance that I am not alone, weird or abnormal for needing a safe place to process.
I have been able to greatly reduce the frequency of panic attacks and know how to prevent them most of the time.
I have been able to identify my dreams and goals in life and have found a passion to live a vibrant life.
My relationships with others have improved.
The quality of my marriage has increased.
I have removed toxic relationships from my life, both with people and things.
I realize that therapy is seasonal and that I won't always need to be in therapy.
I am allowed to be happy and deserve to be treated with respect.
It is nice to have an unbiased opinion and guidance.
It is okay to go to therapy.
Let me say that one more time, it is o k a y to go to therapy. It is okay to want to work through things in your past. It is okay to seek help for anxiety, for depression, for struggling to cope with life's events. It is okay to want to better yourself.
You are allowed to feel angry, anxious, depressed, stressed, overwhelmed, sad, whatever it is you are feeling. You are also allowed to want to move through it. I go to therapy and it is okay.