The Reality of Therapy

By Courtney BuntingOctober 2, 2017

About three weeks following a move to strange place six hours from home, I sat by myself at a coffee shop on my day off, mulling over life. Moving is an emotional experience for anyone, so I tried to keep myself busy both before and after the relocation. But on that day, I had nowhere to go and nowhere to be. I was lonesome.

The first night in my new apartment was similar. My roommate hadn’t moved in yet, and my parents had yet to arrive with the U-Haul. I slept on the floor with a blanket and watched my favorite movie, Cars. The wifi hadn’t been installed yet, much less the cable box. It was quiet and the sun had set. A sense of emptiness settled in the barren apartment.

Weeks after that lonely night, my belongings had been unloaded into my new home. My roommate had even started bringing company by to visit and help us get situated. But still, my anxiety and this nagging feeling of hopelessness persisted as I struggled to find my footing at home and at my new job.

So that isolated afternoon at the coffee shop, I decided I needed to see a counselor.

For so long I had considered asking for help to be the same as giving up. But later I realized that I had already lost that fight. Once anxiety and depression have affected your relationships, job, and dreams, you see that you’re already past “hitting rock bottom”—you were just waiting for yourself to admit it.

Therapy costs a pretty penny. And if I’m honest, I expected the sessions to fix me—but they didn’t.

I sobbed during the first few; I couldn’t stop. The experience was an odd melancholy release of everything I had been holding inside. And while I have yet to feel “fixed,” I will liken it to someone coming alongside a weary traveler and offering to help carry their bags. It doesn’t make you feel less tired, but it makes your burden more manageable. And it’s the relief of someone else saying, “I care that you make it to your destination.”

I remember when my therapist instructed me to tell her if I was ever feeling suicidal. I laughed and said, “I won’t bother you when you’re off work.”

She said, “No, still call me because I care.”

She wasn’t in it for the paycheck or searching for a quick fix. She wanted me to stay alive.

Even while in therapy, I still called a crisis line following awful days at work. I told them I was having suicidal thoughts, and I just wanted it to stop.

But the truth is, therapists and counselors can’t chase away your demons, not without your help at least. And even then, I’m not sure they will ever really leave. Maybe they wait, quietly in the bushes, hoping you’ll decide to drop your suitcases full of good and bad things, and let them back in.

My suitcase is a little lighter now. After being diagnosed with Moderate Anxiety, Depression, and Adjustment Disorder, I’ve found some clarity. I know my struggles will probably resurface the next time I make a big move or change, but I refuse to stop progressing in life out of fear.

And I don’t think the lack of feeling “fixed” after attending therapy should cause me to consider myself as weak or forever broken. Therapy isn’t about that, it doesn’t leave you feeling brand new. It gives you the tools to better understand yourself, to call your struggles out by name and take away their power.

Before therapy, I tried to avoid anything that would cause me turmoil. But now I know that I can survive it. I am strong, and asking for help doesn’t change that, it emboldens me.

Leave a Reply

Comments (6)

  1. Jacob

    Thank you so much for this Courtney 🙂 I needed this

    Reply  |  
  2. Sarai

    You showed great courage in going to therapy. There can be a shame/stigma around asking for help, but really I think everyone in the world could benefit from these conversations where a professional really listens to you express yourself.

    Reply  |  
  3. Eric

    Thank you for this.

    Reply  |  
  4. Mandie Kilgore

    My 2nd husband called his recovery from his pill addiction healing…all it really was , was a prison sentence literally where his access to the drugs that made him spend all of his money on his pain pills and muscle relaxers and changed it to a learned behavior where if there’s an arm and a hand out stretched giving you your weapon of mass destruction or your life then it must be legal and socially acceptable to lay waste there and dish out stupidity and pain for our families and the innocents as if they don’t suffer with their own struggles. Now to have or to reach for the hand around that destructive substance….that’s where recovery should have happened everyday. He missed it in therapy and counseling because often his mind Was closed to words spoken to him. Therapy, recovery, counseling….these things are a foreign tool to someone without the ability to see he needs someone in his life to say the words he might not want to hear…face a truth not he’s not honest to himself enough to believe, or even love someone besides himself enough to be loved back truly

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA


      We appreciate your candor when speaking about your husband’s struggle with addiction. It is truly difficult to watch someone we love battle something so intense and life-altering. We hope that you will email us at [email protected] so our team can learn more about him and you, and offer you some encouragement now and into the future.

      Please continue to speak with honesty, so that others will do the same.

      With Hope,

      Reply  |  
  5. Lee

    I love you just the way you are, and I heard the most beautiful thought the other day at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship I attend which is that you will see others for what they are and yourself when you judge from a point of compassion, I know thats not exactly how they said it but I understood what they were trying to say is that I can’t perceive reality clearly when being hateful, so it is my hope for you that you behold compassion in your heart when judging the world or others.
    A friend,
    A lover of life,

    Reply  |  
Get Email Updates

Sign up for our newsletter to hear updates from our team and how you can help share the message of hope and help.