Mental Health Mondays are our way of breaking the stigma, spreading awareness and sharing stories of those who are battling with their mental health. Read more from this series here.
Trigger Warning: Mentions depression and anxiety
I signed up for therapy by mistake. I was living in isolation and at the peak of a depressive episode. I don’t know what came over me (probably the wine I drank), but I sent a long e-mail explaining why I needed help and how I was ready to do the work. I woke up the next day and regretted my actions. Unfortunately, the administrator had already processed my request, and I had an official slot.
I had an anxiety attack during the lead-up to my first virtual therapy session. I was worried about what the therapist would think of me and if she could help me at all. I never considered myself vulnerable or open, so I thought therapy would never work for me.
Fortunately, my therapist was a lovely young woman to who I could easily relate. She was young, black, and had braids just like mine! I felt seen, and I felt like I was in a space where I could honestly share my thoughts. When she asked me why I decided to come for therapy, I told her that I felt like I was driving towards the cliff’s edge and quickly running out of space before I was pushed over.
As life would have it, I started looking forward to therapy. That hour after lunch every Wednesday became my favorite time of the week. It was the only time that I could unburden myself without worrying about how it may look. I had someone who I could completely trust not to share my stories with anyone else. I also enjoyed how she was genuinely interested in what I had to say and how she offered practical solutions. Even though I hated doing the homework, I could see how it helped me in the long run.
After I started getting into the groove of things and getting used to having her around, she gave me the terrible news. Our time together had to come to an end.
She announced it a fortnight before so that we could come up with an exit strategy. I got the “It’s not me, it’s you” speech. She explained how the point of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy was to prepare me for the real world and how I was finally ready. She explained how all the work we did and the progress I made led up to the big moment. It was time for me to stand on my two feet and face my anxiety head-on.
I was scared of leaving therapy. I went back to the months before I got help, and I did not want to live like that again. I did not want to know who I was without therapy. It felt like therapy is what was holding me together, and I would fall apart without it. Yes, I knew that I had to take life one day at a time and forgive myself for not knowing better.
I knew that vulnerability wasn’t a weakness and that perfection was a pipe dream. I had all my breathing exercises down, and I could meditate for at least 15 minutes. Even with all this knowledge, I still didn’t feel ready.
I attended my exit session without realizing it. Life was so busy that I didn’t keep track of the time, and I thought it would be any other Wednesday. I was surprised when she mentioned how it was our last time together, and we were over halfway through the session.
The longer our discussion went, the more I realized that she was right. I was ready. If I used all of the coping mechanisms she taught me, I could survive without her.
It has been four months since our last session. I have had terrible days, but I have also had great ones. There are times where I am tempted to go back into therapy, but I ask myself if I have exhausted all of my other options first.
I’ll never forget how she used my cliff analogy from our first session together. She explained that I’ll always move toward the cliff, but it is up to me to decide whether I fall or take the leap. If I choose to take the leap, I can always rely on the tools I’ve learned in therapy to hold me up like a parachute.
If you or someone you know is in emotional distress, check out the resources below:
* Text TALK to 741741 for 24/7, anonymous, free counseling.
* People who are deaf or hard of hearing can reach Lifeline via TTY by dialing 1-800-799-4889 or use the Lifeline Live Chat service online.
* Call the SAMHSA Treatment Referral Hotline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), for free, confidential support for substance abuse treatment.
* Call the RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline, 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), for confidential crisis support.
Looking for more content like this? Follow our brand new Instagram account!
Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter.
As The Tempest editors, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll love, too. Just so you know, The Tempest may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Heads up — prices are accurate and items in stock as of the time of publication.