I started seeing a therapist regularly my junior year of college, which was two whole years after I probably should have started seeing one. I think what took me so long to finally recognize that I needed help was the stigma around seeing a professional. Going to therapy is not something that’s spoken about lightly in casual conversation with an acquaintance…it’s something you quietly confess to a close friend, and hope they don’t view you as crazy.
This notion is so strange to me. Everyone has their problems, their struggles, their dirty laundry. And I’ve gotten my fair share of crappy advice and attempts at comfort from friends who just can’t empathize with dealing with depression or anxiety. So why not talk to someone who has the capability to help you feel better? You go to a doctor to keep your body healthy, why not go to a therapist to keep your mind healthy?
This being said, therapy isn’t for everyone, and you aren’t going to click with every therapist you see. I went through three therapists before I finally found one who actually helped me, but I am glad that I stuck it out and continued looking. As someone who isn’t quick to open up verbally to either family or friends, it helped to have someone unconnected from my daily life to confide in. I would much rather listen to other people’s problems than face my own, but from what I’ve come to realize, pushing back your emotions isn’t healthy. They aren’t going to disappear, and eventually, they will demand to be felt.
Seeing a therapist has helped me to become a more emotionally intelligent individual. If something bothers me that shouldn’t, I can say, “I’m feeling irritable, why?” and either come to a conclusion, or try to do something that will elevate my mood. I have learned that it is okay to vocalize my feelings, and not worry that I am boring someone or making myself seem whiney. It is better to be honest than to project a false image of indestructibility.
Despite all this, I still find it hard to express my emotions to others. I still, often, feel trapped by my depression and anxiety. However all I can do is try to help myself overcome the obstacles to the best of my ability. At the end of the day, I am my strongest ally.