Therapy: A Tool For When Things Aren’t Working

This is taking care of yourself.

Hello, readers and mamis!

Lots has been happening over the past few weeks, some positive and some not-so. I had been experiencing feelings of wanting to return to therapy/counseling for a few months, and so I finally took the plunge back into it this week and scheduled an appointment. Though I initially had some misgivings as to the therapist I saw (I must admit they were purely aesthetic judgments formed immediately upon meeting her), I ended the session feeling very good about her and I as a match.

A brief history of myself and therapy: I started going after getting out of an abusive relationship when I was about twenty years old. At that time, I needed someone to talk to about what had happened to me, and to help me cope with it and move on. Initially, the services I used were free ones available to survivors of domestic violence, but it was performed in a group setting where we weren’t allowed to speak of any details. I felt that this experience was beneficial to me in being able to have the support of other women, and to help me feel that I was not alone, but it ultimately did not do what I really needed, which was to understand what happened to me as best I could and to help me avoid similar situations in the future by looking at potential reasons why I ended up in that situation.

I had been on a waiting list for individual counseling at the same place as the group counseling, and my number finally came up, so I started there. Unfortunately, I was still struggling with the separation from my situation, and was not completely honest with my therapist. This disabled me from truly receiving the benefits that I could have at the time, and I eventually decided it wasn’t working for me and turned to substance abuse as a way to cope with the pain I felt. I would return to and cease counseling several more times over the next eight years, still not always being completely honest with my therapists, but gradually gaining more and more from the interactions as I reflected on myself and began trying to understand the roots of my behaviors, coping style, and how to improve myself and my life.

I developed the idea, which I have seen reinforced in the Psychology courses I have taken over the past year, that therapy is a useful tool for anyone and everyone, regardless of why they are there or how dire their situation is. The truth is that everyone has many factors and experiences in their lives that contribute to and form the ways they look at the world, feel about themselves and others, and interact with others, and it is extremely helpful and healthy for the mind to speak with someone trained in psychology in an attempt to better understand themselves and allow them to live truly rich lives. The thing is, no matter how reflective a person is on what is happening to them internally, we are all biased about our life experience and ourselves, which is natural, but what that means is that sometimes all it takes is an unbiased outside observer to be able to see how we could be happier, and more mentally healthy.

The way I think about it is this: when you are sick, you may go through a certain degree of self-diagnosis; you may read about symptoms to gain a better understanding of what is happening to you. But, ultimately, if you do not feel comfortable with your acquired expertise or knowledge as it pertains to returning to a healthy state, you consult with a physician or specialist to learn more about what you are experiencing and to give you tools with which to treat yourself. As we are not just physical beings, but also mental ones, it would follow that we would be best served to extend that practice to our mental health as well. It is unfortunate to me that, for many years, therapy has carried a negative stigma, along with the thoughts and perceptions that therapy must be for people who are crazy, or have some sort of terrible mental affliction or suicidal despair. In referencing what I said above as support, I don’t see most people having the same attitude about doctors: as in, most people do not simply go to doctors when they have completely physically fallen apart, or when they are on the verge of death. And so I reiterate that I believe everyone, no matter their initial reasons for it, would benefit from therapy.

All of that being said, therapy can also be something that turns into a crutch. Just as a person would not continue to take antibiotics indiscriminately after an illness has passed due to the damage and danger it poses to the body, so I believe that therapy, and then distance from it for a time, is the manner in which it is most effectively used. Without the space to heal ourselves, we become dependent on that which does the healing to keep us moving along through life, and we become our illness.

And now, to come back to myself. Though several events have occurred over the past few years that have been difficult, and I continue to experience the effects of those to this day in one way or another, there was no single reason that I made the decision to go back to therapy, aside from this: that I felt that I was removed from my life in some way, and needed some assistance to help me get back on the right track and be the best I can be again. In complete honesty, I had a moment recently where I was actually considering stealing medication from someone, and even was holding a pill in my hand with the bottle in the other, when I told myself, “No, because it won’t ultimately help, and it will lead to more pills, and more problems.” I put it back, and haven’t had the urge again. But it wasn’t the fact that I had the urge that made me really consider getting back into therapy, as I was able to resist while on the brink of a royal mess; it was the fact that my mental state had gotten to the point where I was so serious about escaping myself that I was holding it in my hand. If that isn’t alarming, I don’t know what is. But, thankfully, there are things that a person can do which do not include taking pills, and which do include therapy. So I scheduled an appointment.

Even though I have only just started it again, I immediately felt so much better after my first session. It was akin to the experience of giving a parched plant water and watching the wilted and drooping leaves spring back into life and greenery. However, I knew that my feeling better was not a symptom of being better, but a symptom of having made the right decision in getting myself back into therapy. It was the feeling of taking the right step in caring for myself and, ultimately, caring for the people I care about by improving my own health.

Not even just as mamis, but as people, even those without little sweeties, modern life can include lots of ups and downs that give blows to our stability and sanity. It doesn’t have to be anything that seems heavy or difficult; it can come sneaking in the form of being on the edge under too many burdens and then the slightest breeze topples us over. However, as parents and mamis, we have the added stresses of caring completely for another human being or few, as well as trying to care for ourselves, and that can become overwhelming and unhealthy. I believe that it is extremely beneficial to address these issues as we can feel them creating toxicity in our lives and to move forward and onward as better people and parents.

Just know: no matter what you are going through, you do not have to go through it alone. Please consider therapy as a possible tool to help light the way if the times in your life have become hard or lackluster. It will benefit everyone involved.

Do you have any experience with therapy? Would you recommend it to another person who isn’t happy in their life? Please leave a comment in the space; we would love to hear from you, and encourage support of one another! Thanks for reading!

 

Encouraging Empowered Mamis Everywhere To Do What They Do

Mami

Mami is an artist, aspiring entrepreneur, and first-time, full-time mother. She enjoys long walks with Mr. Sweetie, good food and cooking, her family and dear friends, writing, arting and crafting. She doesn't know everything, but wants to learn, and loves to do research and share what she finds. She thinks life is like a box of puzzle pieces: you keep trying until it fits, because every piece has its place. She owns and operates whatever she sets her mind to, and knows that the sky is only the limit if you haven't left the ground yet.

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