Therapy is terrifying.
When we’ve been sick, scared, apathetic, mixed up, confused, anxious, depressed and whatever else for years, the idea of actually addressing the root cause is frightening. Why? Because we got used to the struggles we face daily. We have come to accept the trauma as part of who we are and the inner-demons have become familiar. In fact, they may have become integrated with our personality at some point. We identify with our demons and become identified by our demons- so much so that we begin to normalize them.
Our struggles aren’t lesser just because we are used to them.
No. There isn’t anything easy about long-term depression, anxiety, OCD, Bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or any other of the hundreds of mental illness we may have. Just because we’ve been surviving with an illness doesn’t mean its been easy. Just because we haven’t fallen to our illness yet doesn’t make it any less real- and admitting we need to heal does’t make us any weaker. When we are physically unwell, we go to a doctor. When we are mentally unwell, we should do the same. Our minds house our thoughts, memories, hopes, dreams, fears, and personality. Our minds are what make us who we are and that’s why it’s important to keep them healthy. Ironically, it’s because our minds are so important to who we are that therapy is so daunting.
Therapy is terrifying because your mind is the very essence of your humanity.
Opening up our mind to someone is the same as bearing our soul. We are exposing the very root of who we are to another human being- and that takes amazing courage in and of itself. It’s even harder to do when we know something is wrong. Admitting to ourselves that we are struggling is difficult. Admitting it to someone else, then asking for help is strenuous. Bearing our innermost being to ourselves and someone else is incredible. Remember that we are not “broken” and we don’t need to be “fixed”. We are human with a complex human minds. Whether we just need a friend, traditional therapy, medication, specialized treatment, or anything in-between, it takes a truly admirable bravery to reach out.
Therapy forces us to examine ourselves.
One of the hardest parts about therapy is evaluating ourselves. We aren’t created in a vacuum: there are many factors that determine who we are and why we think and act the way we do. Some factors are in our control, and some are not. We can control our own thoughts, actions, and reactions- and learning how to do so in a healthy manner is a life-long process. Examining why we are the way we are and why we do the things we do requires us to acknowledge both the controllable and uncontrollable. It requires us to analyze ourselves on increasingly deeper levels, and even to criticize our own negative tendencies. We don’t have to do this alone, however. Therapists are our guides through our healing process.
Therapy is about learning to be ourselves, from ourselves.
When you’ve struggled for years, you may forget who you are without your mental illness. Your identity may have become so wrapped-up in your struggle, that you have lost yourself along the way. In a twisted way, we become attached to our struggles because they shape us and consume us. It’s easy to bury ourselves underneath our mental illness, than wear a mask to fool the outside world- but then we miss out on our greatest teachers: ourselves. Therapists help us reacquaint our healing selves to our true selves, or in some cases, introduce our healing selves to our true self. It’s only after we learn who we truly are that we can learn to be that person. No one else can tell you how to be you, but with help you may learn who you are.
Therapy is never fully done.
No matter how healthy, well-adjusted, and happy a person it they will stumble. We are messy, we are flawed, and we are imperfect. While you may not always need to see a professional therapist- you will always need some form of support and self-evaluation. We are never done learning and growing. We will slip and stumble and fall- but that doesn’t mean that we’ve failed. It means that we are human.
Therapy is terrifying, but it’s worth it.
Therapy comes in many varieties and forms, and so do therapists. We all have different needs and preferences and that’s okay. Whether we choose to go to group sessions, a psychiatrist, a councilor, a self-directed treatment, or talk to a good friend- remember that our health and our minds are what matter. Therapy is difficult, but we all deserve to be happy.