“Just how many times do I have to come back again?” I tried to not sound skeptical but realized it was too late.
“It is important to understand that a therapy doesn’t really have a time limit… it depends on the patient”
She ended her sentence with a cocky smile that to me meant more like: “Bitch your ass is going to be sitting in that chair until I say you’re good”. And at that point I was far from “good”.
That was it, the promising remedy: forty-five minutes, once per week, quick maths. Me talking. Her listening. Some take therapy too seriously, me on the contrary, I thought it’d be the best shortcut to mental quietness. I’m often wrong…
Welcome to the “Therapy Tales” series
PART ONE: THE BEFORE
This is not the first time I am talking openly about therapy, but it’s the first time I am writing it down and sharing it publicly. Some people may find this odd, because unfortunately there’s still a huge taboo weighing down on these topics. Self-guilt, embarrassment, shame and so many other factors could explain this phenomenon.
Each year, 25% of the population suffer from depression or anxiety. Neuropsychiatric disorders account for 19.5% of the burden of disease in the European Region, and 26% in European Union (EU) countries. These disorders account for up to 40% of years lived with disability, with depression as the main cause. (Source: World Health Organisation)
Long story short: too many people are suffering from different kinds of mental illnesses
It wasn’t an easy road until I finally sat in that chair once a week for about two years. First I had to go through the painful reality and admit I needed professional help in order to get my mental health under control. This process can last months, in some cases even years. I rejected the idea of ending up in therapy not because I was embarrassed of it, but because I thought about it as being a sign of weakness. The following issues popped-up once I understood depression had little to do with strength or weakness:
“Where can I even find a therapist?”
“Will I be able to pay for it?”
“What if my parents find out? … Should I tell them?”
“What if the rest of the family finds out…”
“What if I don’t like him/her?”
Anything seemed easier BUT going to therapy. Even spending two whole weeks closed-up in my tiny student apartment, chain-smoking and sipping on cold coffee appeared way better. I was also convinced it’d be an excellent idea to self-medicate with some shady weed and expensive herbal meds to calm down my anxiety attacks rather than proceeding with healthier and more effective solutions. The time I spent self-medicating dragged me even further away from the perspective of professional help. My comfort zone became an impenetrable solid block of concrete.
Here’s a gentle advice if you’re going through a similar experience: please do not postpone the necessity of professional help. The longer you take to confront this issue, the longer it’ll take you to overcome/heal it. And I’m not saying this for you to start panicking about “it” becoming worse. I’m pointing this out because those bad habits, deeply incorporated in my routine, ended up interfering with my therapy. To this day I’m still fighting some of those symptoms: lack of appetite, motivation, sleepless nights and unhealthy overthinking. However, considering what I had to deal with before, this seems now like a piece of cake. And it is so thanks to those weekly forty-five minutes.
Here’s another gentle advice: Forgive yourself. Be patient with yourself.
Like my wise therapist said “It depends on the patient”. On this note, I would say that it is preferable to find a solution that’s suitable to you and most of all, if you get your brave ass to therapy, be sure to have a good relationship with your therapist.
My high school psychologist once told me: “A therapist is like a shoe. You cannot walk in shoes that don’t fit you, it’ll hurt you” (also funny story: after she said that I never showed up again. Sorry not sorry, the shoe didn’t fit.)
This procedure takes longer than it should, so here goes advice number three: talk to someone about your concerns. Choose wisely and remember you don’t need any superficial judgement at this point. Give yourself time to get familiar to the idea of getting professional help. Rushing things does not lead to helpful solutions (advice number four).
therapy tales…to be continued…