Why I Go To Therapy
Hi, my name is Meghan, and I go to therapy. Proudly.
I have to say that I do feel like therapy is becoming a little less stigmatized. Now, there is still ground to cover and myths to debunk, but I think most people are coming to terms with the fact that not every therapist is an older man in a tweed suit sitting behind a desk asking you: "and how does that make you feel?".
I have been in therapy ever since I was diagnosed with anorexia, which was in the fall of 2008. I've gone through therapists in both the public and private sectors, and have switched therapists within both. I've had my file closed and my file re-opened, I've taken breaks from scheduling appointments, and have experienced moments of pure joy and extreme sadness all in the span of one session.
The point is, even after all of these years, I still highly value therapy as a tool.
A lot of the work I am currently doing in therapy involves eating disorder-related topics. I mean, that is the nature of my illness! I won't go into specifics, but weight and body image and food and anxiety always make their way into the discussion somehow. However, my sessions are in no way limited by the eating disorder. Nothing is off limits - family, friends, work, relationships, friendships - it all gets discussed at various points. That's what I love about therapy; it really helps me deal with issues in all spheres of my life.
I celebrate victories with my therapist, too. I am always eager to share good news, or progress I have made; successes in relation to beating my eating disorder, and successes at work and in life. What is amazing about finding a good therapist is that they are there to listen to the good stuff just as much as the hard stuff.
Now that it's 2018, I have reached a point where I tell absolutely everything to my therapist. I share topics from A to Z and everything in between. There is no holding back... okay, well 99% no holding back. Some things are just too difficult to share at the moment, but that 1% will surely find it's way to the surface soon. All in good time, right?
The truth is, it does not do me any good to lie to my therapist. Time is precious, and I have adopted the "all in" attitude. When I get to my session, I lay everything out on the table. I make sure all my feelings and emotions get talked about, and I ensure that all my fears (rational or irrational) are discussed. I do this because it always, ALWAYS feels better afterwards. You would be surprised at how many thoughts and emotions we repress throughout the week: situations at work, arguments with partners or family members, life stressors... Repression is never constructive, and although it feels okay in the moment, it is not a long-term solution.
I, though, am guilty of repressing A LOT during the week. I basically get up, shower and get ready for work, go to work, come home, relax for a bit, and go to bed. Repeat X 5 days of the week. There isn't much time to challenge ED-related thoughts, and when feelings come on a little too strong, I usually pushing them down. "I'll deal with them later".
Therapy serves as a release for me. I get to release all of the tension and emotions and pain that have accumulated throughout the week. I have learned to be "raw" in therapy. I am raw and open and truthful. The way I see it is: "what do I have to lose?". And let me tell you, releasing everything feels DAMN good.
Therapy isn't accompanied by immediate changes on my part. Many times, my therapist and I will discuss a plan of action for me to put into place. And a lot of times, I don't follow through. It's not that I don't care, or don't value what she says - it's just that my eating disorder is THAT strong. Strong enough to disregard useful and constructive advice and simply abide by anorexia's rules. But I think my therapist and I would both agree that my sessions are not wasted time. The mere act of talking over some of my most anxiety-ridden thoughts is tremendously helpful. Releasing stress is another benefit, and having someone to rely on when life gets a little too overwhelming is more than a blessing.
My wish for you is to see therapy as a regular part of people's lives. Therapy is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of strength. It is emotionally demanding and when people subject themselves to voluntarily experiencing the highs and lows of life with someone... that should be admired and never judged.
Therapy has been incredibly helpful for me over the past 10 years. I have learned so much about myself and I honestly wouldn't have it any other way. Thank you to all of the therapists I have worked with over the years. If you're reading this - first of all, that's so cool! And second of all, please know that you have made a difference in my life and for that I am grateful.
Do you go to therapy? Do you have any strong opinions towards it? Let me know in the comments, or drop me a line by Instagram, Facebook, or email (email@example.com).