In 2016 I went through a life-changing experience that completely turned my world upside down. I won’t go into detail about it, as I’m saving that for an entire post that may take some time to write.
But, for the first time in my life, the situation left me feeling confused and alone.
Because of a choice I wanted to make, people were telling me I was crazy. Unfortunately, both friends and family were concerned that I was about to make a bad choice.
It hurt. I’d never been one to make poor choices before, so their lack of understanding cut me deeply, and because of them, I began to question my own mind.
Doubt seeped in, and as I felt like I had no-one to turn to, I decided to seek the council of a therapist.
This isn’t something we often do here in the UK, but I desperately needed someone I could talk to that wasn’t emotionally involved or connected to my life and what I was going through.
For six months I attended sessions with an incredible woman called Zoe, and we talked about everything. Not just what was going on then, but other things that were bothering from the past.
I know many people may never consider seeing a therapist thanks to the stigma we seem to have developed around it, but what I learned from those sessions was beyond what I thought I would walk away with.
Below I’ve shared exactly what I took away, in the hope that it might remove the fear of talking to someone, and that if you are going through any kind of situation, that help is always possible.
Find Your Cheerleaders in Life
If there’s one revelation that came about in my therapy, it’s that I had chosen the wrong people to speak to about my situation.
I wasn’t suffering from any mental illness; I had a situation that was a melting pot of emotions because I had spoken to so many people about it and had all sorts of conflicting advice.
Unfortunately, not everyone in our circle of friends and family always has your best interests at heart, and they can perhaps judge far harsher than those that don’t even know you.
Luckily for me, I now know who I can speak to and have found people who know me for who I am and what I believe in.
Just like kissing a few frogs to find your prince, you have to go through a storm to find your saviours.
Don’t Change Yourself
That being said, it would be easy for you to stop being authentic and feel like you have to lock your life away from prying eyes that can judge. But this hibernation strategy can only make you resent others and cause you to act differently.
Being unauthentic is not healthy. Remain who you are, but just be cautious to who you share your woes with.
You Know What You Want – You’re Just Seeking Permission
When you’re stuck in a situation that has you caught up in a mess, sometimes you just want someone to tell you what to do, even though deep down in your heart you know exactly what you want to do.
It’s the fear of doing it that holds us back, and we seek permission because then we can put the blame on someone else and leave all responsibility for our actions behind us.
As much as we would love to all still be parented in that way, it’s not what life is about.
A therapist will not give you permission to do anything and will not make any decisions on your behalf. Their magic is guiding you to find the bravery to face what you really want to do.
It’s Not a Sign of Weakness
Therapy is not something we openly discuss here in the UK. While the stigma surrounding mental health is continuously battled, therapy has helped myself and many of my family members to live life again.
If accepting your fears and confronting your experiences is a weakness, I must be alien.
Bottling up anything that’s taking over your mental capacity is unhealthy. Wouldn’t we all be better off shedding the weight and moving forward?
It’s Expensive but Worth It
I’m not going to lie that the bank balance took a bit of battering for a few months. But comparing a tight purse strings with a mind that felt like it was going to explode, I knew which one was the more important.
For what I’ve spent on clothes and shoes, and other frivolous items in the past, therapy was the by far my best ever investment.
Investing in myself is something I take seriously. We only get one go at this life, and I certainly don’t want to be held back and stuck because I don’t value my mental health.
Instead, I walked away from therapy not only feeling empowered and confident in my own mind, but with an entire arsenal of tools I can use whenever I’m faced with a difficult situation again.
I hope in some small way my experience with therapy has opened your eyes to what you can learn. And that it’s not all sobbing on sofas.
If you’ve had a great therapy experience please comment below and share what you learned. The more we encourage each other to open-up, the happier and healthier we can all be.