Gender & Identity, Wellness, Life

I didn’t want to go to therapy – until I was finally forced to

On the day of my first appointment, I dreaded going. I almost cancelled.

I’ve had a multitude of mental health issues that, throughout my life, I was never able to properly address.

My anxiety and depression came to a boiling point over the summer and I was finally forced to seek the help I needed. I tried different antidepressants and mood stabilizers, many of them giving me unbearable side effects such as vomiting, sleeping for 12 hours, and raging migraines.

I finally found a medication that I could tolerate, so that was a relief. But I knew that medication alone was not going to solve all my problems; I had deeper issues relating to my family and childhood that I needed to address.

Despite struggling with mental illness for a large portion of my life, I had never seriously considered seeing a therapist. I never seemed to have the time and I wasn’t sure how much good a therapy session could do. I thought it might be awkward. I didn’t know if I would trust the professional I would be meeting with.

I found plenty of excuses to never explore therapy and looking back, I paid the price for it.

After getting my medicine on track, I decided to try seeing a therapist. I was at a crisis point in my life and I knew I should be receiving all the help I could get. I found a psychologist who focuses on women, children, and the family unit, and I scheduled an appointment. I was feeling low and realized I needed more resources than just the pills my psychiatrist could provide me.

But the day of my first appointment, I dreaded going. I was nervous and didn’t know if it was going to benefit me or be a waste of time. I had no idea what to expect. Since my emotions were all over the place, I had little hope for the first meeting.

I walked into the therapist’s office and sat down. I looked at her dully and asked, “How do I start?”

She responded, “Anyway you want.”

I proceeded to rattle off my recent overdose attempts, my depression and anxiety that I now understood had plagued me for years but I had been able to mask, my dysfunctional family, my strained relationship with my father, my frustration with the job search, and my heightened anxiety from living in the current political climate in America. She wrote furiously on a pad of paper.

In my first session, I removed so many burdens from my shoulders. My therapist validated and addressed my anger, my fears, and my frustrations. It felt amazing.

It was gratifying to have a non-biased party give me advice and walk me through my problems. It was so refreshing to talk through issues with a professional who has 20 years of experience, as opposed to venting to my mother and getting the same unhelpful feedback. I found a space where I would be validated and encouraged. I knew my concerns would not be diminished or ignored.

When I left her office, I felt like I could breathe again.

I felt like I had some amount of control over my life, whereas a few weeks prior, I had been spiraling. As cheesy as this sounds, I couldn’t wait to see my therapist again the following week. I had found my first interaction with her to be so insightful that I knew future meetings with her would only help me get my life back together.

I had finally had the resources to deal with my heavy emotions surrounding my family and childhood. In the midst of my stressful and abysmal family situation, I found a safe space.

I continue to see my therapist on a regular basis, and I would encourage anyone who has the means and is thinking about scheduling an appointment to do so. Seeing a therapist does not make you “weak” or “crazy.” Mental health is important, and it should be treated like any other disease or injury.

If you break your leg, you see a doctor immediately to put a cast on it. When your mental health is at stake, you seek out mental health professionals as soon as possible.

When I became open to the possibility of a therapist helping me, my life changed direction for the better.