By Daniel Tihn
Before delving into the article, I should first make it clear that I will be touching on some personal experiences regarding therapy and how it has helped me both in the past and the present. While I will not be going into great detail regarding past traumas, I will be relating my own experiences to make it easier to explain but, more importantly, so that you, the reader, can know that you are not alone.
Therapy is, as defined by the American Psychological Association, a way that helps people of all ages live happier, healthier, and more productive lives. Yet, therapy still has quite a large stigma surrounding it to this day, but why? If a friend came up to you and offered some life advice, wouldn’t you want to take it? Or what if the person was someone you respected, an elder such as a parent, uncle, or guardian? Most of the time, you are going to accept the wisdom of those around you as maybe they can offer some brand-new perspective on the current situation; maybe they are part of a different generation or have simply more experience in that specific area.
But none of them are qualified. Therapy is conducted by trained professionals who have studied cases similar to whatever you are going through, so no matter whatever is going on in your life, no matter how big it may be or how alone you may feel, therapy is there to help you through it all. For example…
The first time I went to therapy was when I was around 13. At the time I was experiencing trauma that had sent me reeling back into my shell. I didn’t want to go to school, I didn’t want to go out, I didn’t even want to leave my bed to go to the bathroom; everything feeling like it was the worst thing in the world. Not only was my teen anxiety amplified but every day I was beginning to spiral deeper and deeper into a depressive state as everything felt grey and bland.
I was terrified to talk to anyone about what I was feeling, to explain things that I had locked up, dug deep, and long since thrown away the key. I had fallen into a depression and at some point, I finally had to face the facts. I could no longer go on like that so after much introspective debate, I decided to attend therapy. It wasn’t an easy decision, but eventually I found myself anxiously biting my nails and looking down at my shoes.
I was young and had no idea what to say. Because I had become so introverted, the first few sessions weren’t easy as I gave one word answers to every question and “I don’t know”s to anything else. But after several sessions, I started to open up. I began talking about myself, about what I was feeling and why I thought the way I did, about why I was so scared to simply talk to other people, about why I had begun to dread leaving my bed every morning. Soon after that, I started talking about my past trauma and began working on the sources of my emotions now that I was receptive to the sessions.
The point is this: I gave it a try. Yes, therapy may not be what you need right now but giving it a try is the only way to rule it out. When I was younger, I felt anxious and depressed all the time but what pushed me was that I remembered what I used to feel. I remembered that the world was full of colour and every day was an exciting new adventure into the world, so I wanted to feel that way again. I sought professional help and will proudly say that I did, because doing so is not a weakness. To be able to face your fears and try to better yourself is the best thing any of us can do as there is always room for improvement.
And therapy isn’t just for those like me. Whether you have been through trauma or simply feeling any negative emotions (such as frustration, anger, lack of motivation, or loneliness to name a few), therapy isn’t there to label you as defective but to help guide you forward into a better person. Yes, starting is tough as not only do you need to speak about how you feel but you need to reopen wounds that you might be denying exist yourself, but it is freeing. It is an accomplishment to be able to sit there and discuss yourself to anyone, let alone the worry of being analysed always at the back of your mind.
But you aren’t. Therapists are human beings and are not there to mock or judge, they are there to help you. Maybe your emotions have been running hot lately or you feel like it is tough keep motivated, or you are trying to get over a traumatic experience; you are not alone.
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