Blog

Apr28
2016

On Returning to Therapy

By Joy A.

Tomorrow morning I’m going back to therapy. For me, it is one of the hardest decisions I’ve made, perhaps even harder than choosing to ask for help the first time. I’m proud of the progress I’ve made in the last several years. I’m proud of the person I’ve become and will continue to become. I’ve learned to show myself grace in the process. But I’ve also learned nothing is static.

I wrote about my story for TWLOHA around a year ago and called it “Growing Into Beautiful” because I was. Everything in it remains true. I’ve learned to recognize my own worth. I’ve learned to find healing in the touch of the man I love and to not expect his fingers to leave bruises. I’ve learned to love myself enough to forgive a lot of people for a lot of things, including myself. I’ve watched time march onward and me march right along with it. I’m so alive these days, and I’m unafraid of that fact. But my growth process does not and cannot end there.

It took me time, but I eventually worked up the courage to share “Growing Into Beautiful” with a few of my closest friends. Most were supportive, having already known my history. After reading it one friend asked me if I thought I was “better now.” The answer is both yes and no.

Recovery is not a one-stop shop. I wish I could tell you it happens in a linear fashion: You go to therapy and then you stop when you’re all better. But that isn’t life. Recovery is the ebb and flow of an ocean. You may never see the whole thing; sometimes it will feel vast and overwhelming, and other times it will seem like the most calming thing in the world. For me, with every new panic attack or trigger, I understand a little more of what my first therapist told me: Sometimes things happen to us and we simply aren’t the same. I am not the same person I was before I walked this road.

Please understand me. I am still growing into my beautiful. This is the whole point of my previous post: to say that I am still growing into the story I’ve lived. But I also recognize that I’ve not yet learned to wear my stories and my scars with all the grace that I could. It’s easy to write posts that end with victory and recovery. It’s not easy to write follow-up posts that shed light on the reality that life is nuanced.

That’s why going back to therapy is the hardest thing for me right now. Because I could make a decent argument that I’m in a really good place, that I’m healthy. And maybe my return to therapy is a result of being in a healthy place: I know my own limits, and I respect myself enough to ask for help when I begin to push them. Yet, even knowing all those things, it is hard to fill out a form asking what areas I’m struggling in, to rate them on a scale of 1-10, and not feel like I somehow failed.

My friends: If you are like me, and you’ve been through some dark things and come out on the other side, please hear me. Your life doesn’t have to be falling apart for you to get help. It is not shameful to still need help. It was not shameful to ask for help the first time. It is not shameful that the struggle doesn’t fully eradicate itself even after all this time. I am speaking as much to myself as anyone else. It is not shameful to still be growing. It is not shameful to go back to therapy because even though you’re stable, you’re not as whole as you thought you were. Me filling out these forms is the furthest thing from me failing; it’s me winning before a battle even begins. It’s me taking preventative measures because an ounce of prevention is far easier to swallow than a pound of cure after I’ve already relapsed.

So much of what happened in my life was out of my control. Asking for help is not one of those things. I am ending cycles before they even start. I’m going back to therapy. I’m letting that be a victory instead of a failure. And if you still need help I’m hoping you’ll have the courage to ask again as well. You deserve to know your story isn’t over yet. You deserve to know that healing takes time and that no one is expecting you to rush this process. You deserve to know how much you are loved, how much you are worth it. I’m walking this road with you, believing in better endings.

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Comments (23)

  1. B.L. Stonaker

    ♡ This is a beautiful and very relevant follow up piece. I couldn’t agree more with the points made. It is a victory, indeed.

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  2. Heike

    Thank you so much for this. More people need to know that recovery is not finite, it’s a process. Strength to you on your journey to health and happiness.

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  3. Em

    Thanks so much for sharing this! I just returned to therapy myself and while its a tough thing to face, I’m feeling great now.

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    1. Joy A.

      I’m doing so much better myself now that I’ve been back for a while. Sometimes I think maybe we don’t even realize how much we need the extra help until we’re looking back. Stay strong on this journey, my friend!

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  4. Beth

    This came at the perfect moment for me. The story is not over yet and I can determine the ending, by God’s grace. Thank you.

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    1. Joy A.

      Our stories are never over. I try to remind myself of this every day. Wherever we’re at on any given day, we have the power to chose where we go from there. Remembering always that we are loved greatly, by other people and by the face of love Himself. I’m right there with you!

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  5. Bethan

    Very beautiful and well said ❤️

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  6. Jeanne

    How ironic that I read your post today. I’m at my lowest today that I have been for some time. I was feeling embarrassed and frustrated that I needed help again. Then I read this. I realize I need to make the call. And I shouldn’t be ashamed. Thanks for the post.

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    1. Joy A.

      I’m so glad it reached you today, of all days. Sometimes the hardest thing for me to do is to admit that even though I’ve made progress, I’m never going to arrive. It’s OK to still be a work in progress. I’m glad you’re choosing the healthy thing. I’m fighting with you!

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  7. Lee

    Joy I really needed to hear this today. I’m 10 years from my last hospitalization, 19 years sober, half a decade from my last visit to therapy, down from 5 meds to 1, and today I’m back to where I was emotionally before all that recovery success. I’m angry that depression is here again, and I can’t imagine walking through all this pain one more time. I heard in an AA meeting recently, “I may have another run in me, but I don’t think I have another recovery in me.” I feel that way about this disease today; you win, I don’t have another recovery in me. So regardless of how I felt, I made a call to a new therapist, went to a meeting, called friends in recovery, and shared what is going on in my head. I’m pretty sure I’ll go to bed sober, smoke free, and without any new ___ on my body tonight. That will have to be good enough. I can always chose differently tomorrow, but today I’ll chose me just in case tomorrow is a better day.

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  8. Staci

    Wow excellent post & encouragement. I feel in a similar spot w considering going back to therapy as being a failure, but you are right in that it’s actually a success in prevention & further healing. Thank you!

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  9. Alley Cat

    I went back to therapy for the first time in years last week. And it felt like a failure to me. As if all the time I had spent working through my issues previously was for nothing. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for helping me to see this as a win and not a failure.

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    1. Joy A.

      I’m so proud of you! This is not failure for you or for me! In the months between when I wrote this post and it being posted here, I’ve experienced more healing than I originally knew I needed. Your previous work on yourself is not wasted. Some seasons are just more difficult than others. Give yourself grace in this process; you so deserve it. I’m walking this journey with you. <3

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  10. Monica

    This is beautiful and spoke volumes. Though hesitant, I too returned to therapy. And within three months theres been a little progress. I had it in my mind that this healing and recovery is suppose to happen fast and to the point but it really is a process.

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  11. Leslie

    Thank you!! When I admitted myself to an inpatient hospital for the third time in a year, i felt like a failure. Still do, I suppOSe. Anyway, this was encouraging that it is the opposite of that! Hope your time in therapy is in enlightening.

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  12. CaroG87

    Good for you. I need to start again myself because so much has happened since my last session…. Started taking an antidepressant, my mom passed, a few other things. No shame in going again for every new phase of life. Blessings to you.

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  13. Tina

    Timely. Thanks.

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  14. Ashley

    This post resonated with me as I’ve recently returned therapy and have decided to renew my journey to self acceptance

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  15. Teresa

    So, after 2 years of being on my own after having left my marriage that left me a shattered image of who I once was, made an appointment to see my doctor tomorrow to see about going to therapy again. I haven’t really talked to someone since before I left. And then this evening, I read your post about going back to therapy. How fitting, how appropriate, how God placed this message for me, for now. Thank you for speaking to us and to our pain. Thank you for having this place that one can understand when sometimes no one else does. Thank you!

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  16. Jas

    Thank you so much for your honesty and for writing this. This came at exactly the time when I needed to know its ok to ask for help again. I’ve been feeling like a failure for needed to go back to therapy but just knowing that there is one other person in the world who needs to too helps so much. I so hope going back helps you find more of yourself. Good luck with your journey.

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  17. Catherine

    This article and TWLOHA gave me the strength I needed to go back to therapy after a bad relapse. Thank you.

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    1. Becky

      We are SO proud of you, Catherine! We’re glad this blog post contributed to your decision to return to therapy. Thank you for sharing this us.

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  18. Tammy

    Wow! Did I need this today! My psychologist and I agreed in april that I was in a place where I could leave therapy. About a month ago I started to have feelings of missing my depression, My dr has been tweaking my meds to relieve a side effect, and the past few days I’ve been feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and sad. I feel like I am close to giving in and letting depression take over again. I’ve been thinking a lot about returning to therapy but I’ve been questioning my motives. Do I just miss my psychologist, am i just trying to hold on to depression, do I really need to go back, should I go back? Friends have thought it would be a good idea to go back. But hearing it from someone who has experienced it has given me the ok and permission to return to therapy. It really is such a tough decision. Thank you for sharing.

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