I used to loathe the idea of going to therapy. The thought of sharing your life with someone else as they sit in front of you and jot down notes seemed daunting. For years, I acted tough by putting my pride first, and my mental health second. I simultaneously yearned for control over my emotions but felt that sharing those parts of myself with a stranger would result in loss of that perceived power.
I kept up this mindset until about a year ago. You may be wondering what on earth could have changed my opinion on therapy? Well, believe it or not, it wasn’t when I hit rock bottom with my eating disorder or when I put my faith into self-harm as a coping mechanism in my adolescent years. Rather, my mind shifted after what I define as the world’s worst breakup—and although one’s first breakup is practically a rite of passage, this divide weighed me down with unspeakable grief.
In the midst of what felt like drowning, I recognized that I needed to talk to a therapist. And at first, I panicked; I hadn’t had any positive experiences with counseling in the past. In fact, years ago, I could barely work up the courage to make the journey from the parking lot to the waiting room. Hiding in the backseat of the car seemed safer than confronting how heavy my heart felt. Filling out new patient paperwork would leave proof that there were things I couldn’t handle on my own. But then I realized that I had to stop fixating on all the negative things that could happen as a result of it. This time I was ready to reach out on my own terms and accept help. As the fog of uncertainty lifted, I thought: What’s the BEST thing that could happen?
I am here now as living and breathing proof that therapy saves lives. What once felt like a burden has now transformed into a lifeline.
That small room I entered months ago has become a safe space. Those four walls have witnessed me cry inconsolably. They have seen me ache with guilt and shame. But they have also seen my eyes light up as I make progress. They have watched me grow as I take charge and prioritize my mental health. By doing this, I am actively releasing the stigma that had prevented me, and so many others, from seeking help.
This longitudinal process requires grace and patience. As you move from session to session, you begin to build on more topics and life events as they unfold. And as we share our experiences, the voice in our head that has always told us that we’re all alone suddenly becomes muted. Our inner thoughts are replaced with an appreciation for simply being brave enough to speak up.
Like most things, this individualized progression isn’t perfect all the time. There are still days when I struggle to say what’s on my mind. More often than not, I have to repress the urge to undermine what I’ve been through. But if I were to take one thing away from these past sessions, it’s that our personal experiences are valid enough to stand alone. There’s no need to compare the level of severity to other people’s stories and there’s no need to declare ourselves unworthy of treatment.
We all deserve the chance to get better because after all, even the tiniest sliver of hope can pave the way to a future we never thought we’d live to see.
Let this serve as a reminder that therapy is not something to be ashamed of. It’s courageously empowering to take the first steps toward healing. And whether you have been in therapy in the past, are currently in it, or have simply thought about it, I hope to encourage you to reach out. Text a helpline, connect with a support group, or make that first appointment with a counselor.
It’s about time we acknowledge our grief and let it guide us in meeting others who understand our pain. There’s a whole community out there that has been where you are now and will offer you support. More importantly, they will be the ones cheering you on as you make it to the other side.
And we can’t wait to see you there.