Because today is Bell Lets Talk Day, I wanted to share with everyone my recent experience with going to therapy. This was my first time going consistently, and I’m glad I stuck it out. It was a really great experience and it helped me realize a few different things. I am not ashamed to admit that I will likely go back.
Before talking about my experience I want to acknowledge that I am lucky that my therapy is covered under insurance. Not everyone has that luxury and that is why raising money for mental health inititatives is so important. Everyone who is struggling should have access to these resources. I also want to acknowledge that the way I experience anxiety has allowed me to be quite high functioning and I know this is not the case for everyone.
I went in to my first session wanting to talk with a professional about some big fears of mine that are made worse because of my anxiety. Due to the fact that I have an upcoming trip, we talked a lot about my fear of flying. Ever since I was a kid I have not liked flying, and although I do get quite motion sick that is not the biggest reason why. When I fly, I often can’t shake this feeling that something bad is going to happen, like the plane crashing. These thoughts take over my mind until I have landed at my destination, and they make flying quite unpleasant.
When I brought this up with my therapist, she listened and then we talked about how a lot of people get these types of aggressive thoughts that are often made worse by stressful situations.
To conclude we talked about strategies to implement when these irrational thoughts appear, and I can apply these to many things, not just to my fear of flying.
I went in to a therapy session once when I had a panic attack after being locked out of my house. It’s a long story, but things spiralled out of control and I can’t even really explain why I was upset at the end of it. However, my therapist kept the same approach. She told me it was fine to have reacted the way I did, and made sure I left knowing my feelings were valid. I found this to be extremely helpful.
Validation I think can be one of the most helpful things to those of us who struggle with anxiety, but we have to learn along the way that it is not realistic to seek it from everyone. Having someone who is a respected professional tell me my feelings are valid makes me feel so much better than having my feelings validated by a friend ever could. I think this was why I had a good experience with therapy. I have faith in my therapists education.
Returning to my fear of flying example, my friends and family help me work through the fear logically, which is actually the first step my therapist told me to take when assessing a new situation that makes me anxious. They remind me about how unlikely a disaster is, but I know they are often confused about why I am so worried about the plane crashing when the statistics say the chances are so small. In the past this sometimes made me feel a little crazy and I would keep these feelings bottled in. My therapist helped me look at the situation from different perspectives and makes me feel ok about being (what I can admit is) a bit irrational.
Yet another thing I learned in therapy is that it is valid to be irrational sometimes. No matter how much we try to manage our thoughts, sometimes we can’t and that is okay. I strongly believe that with the help from therapy my anxiety surrounding flying is going to get more manageable.
Therapists give us a unique perspective and can offer a sense of comfort sometimes we don’t even know we need. I believe therapy is not only a great way to learn about yourself, but ultimately leads to your relationships being stronger because friends can play more of a friend role and less of a therapist role.
I want to conclude by remininding everyone that yes my experience was ultimately positive but therapy is not for everyone. If something like therapy does not work for you, you are in no way a failure. Even if your progress feels slow remember you are still making progress.
If anyone has any questions about my experiences or my opinions, let me know in the comments below and I’m more than happy to answer. Lets keep the conversation about mental health going.