Well, hi there. Remember me? I haven’t been here in a while, and I don’t know if I’ll make a habit of being back. But I didn’t feel like doing a Twitter thread on this, so here we are.
For various reasons that I am not going to go into here, my family is going to therapy (individual and group). One of my family members grouses about this saying, “Nothing is going to change.”
And it’s true. Nothing is going to change, not materially. But one doesn’t go to therapy to change or fix things, necessarily. I’ve been thinking a lot about my own experiences with therapy, and I wanted to talk about them.
I have been in and out of therapy since I was about 15. At that time, I was compelled by my parents to attend therapy sessions because my father had come across one of my journals, and had read it thinking it was something from school. What he found worried him enough to confront me, and I ended up in front of a psychologist.
I only went for about six weeks. What I was told during those sessions was, “You’re not the only one who feels like this.” Which, since I was a teenager, was deeply offensive of course, but also (I admitted grudgingly) reassuring. I came out of therapy knowing how to better communicate with my friends when I felt they were creating drama or using me to dump out their problems.
When I was in my later 20s, I had a bad breakup, and I started having nightmares. Graphic, rather terrifying nightmare about being chased and eaten by monsters. Now, I had always been anxious — I can trace the start of my catastrophic thinking to when I was about 12. But this was a new level of anxiety, even for me.
I spent about two years in therapy. I came out of that experience finally realizing that not only was I worthy of love, but I deserved to be loved, just as I was, flaws and all. If it were for this round in therapy, I never would have gotten married.
I went to therapy after Gabriel died. I have gone on and off a few times since. It’s a space that is wholly for me to talk, say whatever, free of judgement, to cry if I needed to — after Gabriel died, I spent more than one therapy session just crying for 45 minutes. I didn’t have to talk and I didn’t have to comfort anyone. Pure grief.
I didn’t go to get fixed. I didn’t go to change my life (although in some ways, my life did change as a result of therapy). I went to explore and process, to learn about myself without interruption, to listen to someone help me talk through my feelings and thoughts, to get feedback and reassurance that I was okay and not losing my mind. (Anxiety is a bitch, my friends.)
My last therapist was kind of a bust. It made me feel better to talk, but at the end of our last session she said, “It’s always entertaining!” to see me. And I am not pleased about that. I started Prozac in December, as well, which has helped mitigate my anxiety by a whole lot.
Talk therapy isn’t a “fix”; neither is medication by itself. I always advocate seeking and finding support, whether within your circle or with a professional.
We’re not in this alone. It’s good to remember that.
What’s your experience with therapy?