Day 23: What is your opinion on therapy? (It can be any type, some examples are: group therapy, talk therapy, social skills training, exposure therapy, ERP, DBT, CBT, ACT, marital counseling, and many more)
“Therapy”. The word itself is soothing. Usually, I associate it with anything that makes me feel better; running, a massage, a warm bath, Ben & Jerry’s Blueberry Graham Cracker Greek Yogurt. The act of going into therapy had a slightly different meaning for me last year. I had been in therapy before but it was always for someone else or to try to save and repair my marriage. Those were helpful and beneficial, but they did not ‘fix’ or save the crisis. The broken did not get repaired. My husband did not stay away from drugs and stop bringing illegal substances into our home where the children slept; my marriage did not go back to the time when I felt we were a team as opposed to opponents; I did not get my dream of ‘happy ever after’ back but at least I did get the chance to speak my concerns in a neutral environment and he didn’t call me a “bitch” in front of other people so this was the safe space in which to also hear him voice his concerns without the name calling and yelling. I was too hard on him… So I did get something out of therapy then. I had positive feelings about it.
Going to therapy to work on my specific challenges was a hurdle for me. What was I going to have to talk about? How far back would I have to go? How deep would the therapist probe? Was I going to have to cry?! I didn’t want to cry anymore. I was so tired. But this was a part of what I was told would heal me. And my parents desperately wanted me to go. My mother was asking me daily, “Did you make your appointment yet? I really think you should go soon.” So I asked an aquantence of mine who was a therapist for a recommendation and made the appointment.
I made sure I was on time and found myself sitting across from a lady in her mid-fourties with long grey hair and a kind face. She reminded me of a hippy from the 60’s. I felt comfortable with her right away. I was still afraid of what she would ask me. I felt like I was sitting in the principal’s office, although I had never been called to the principal’s office when I was in school. Not for anything bad, anyway. The first thing she asked me was what had brought me to make an appointment with her. I still had trouble forming the words. I still do, so I just rolled up my sleeves and showed her my arms. “oh wow, you must have been in a lot of pain!” She said. “No, not at all. 50 stiches and I don’t recall any pain at all!” I said matter-of-factly. “I meant before this happened. You must have been carrying around so much pain for so long.” She said this with so much empathy and understanding that I didn’t know what to say next. I just nodded. And then the tears came. There was…so much pain.
My therapy with her continued for a few months. She added her own suggested diagnosis to the ones I was given in the hospital; PTSD and a phobia disorder. I am literally terrified of guns. Shortly after that I found a reason to not make the next week’s appointment. And the next. A few months later, in spite of my continuing medication regimen and that I never missed a visit with my psychiatrist I started to feel that darkness seeping in again. The pain was increasing. So I found a new therapist that took my new insurance and that was closer to my work place and began going weekly again. I researched myself this time and found a therapist who was studying forensic psychology and had written his dissertation about how intelligence affects symptoms in incarcerated mental health patients. So I chose him to spill my guys to. I figure if he can handle treating the criminally ill; nothing I could tell him would be shocking.
Therapy: difficult to begin (and not at all like a day at the spa) but healing once I gave in to the process of telling this story I had. There was a tale of pain and disappointment in the world I had to express. I may not be entirely unbroken in this process but I am finding a certain acceptance of myself.
My opinion of therapy: life saving.