There are various misconceptions regarding the role of therapy in one’s life, especially those who suffer from various mental disorders like anxiety, depression, OCD and others. There is always an idea that a therapist is either someone who gives you an addictive medicine, someone who deals with people who are of less mental capacity or someone who controls your life. All these assumptions are completely wrong and have nothing to do with the role of a therapist in one’s life.
After years of suffering from anxiety and having no idea what it really was, my family encouraged me to start going to a therapist. Maybe these “weird episodes” had to do with my psychological well-being. And so I did and these are the reasons why I would do it again and again and again.
1- I got to know exactly what I am going through:
Before going to a therapist I was completely unaware of what is happening to me. During my anxiety attacks, I thought I was going to die or that something is physically wrong with me and not knowing was the worst part.
In my very first session when I explained to my therapist what I go through she simply put it into two words, “anxiety attacks.” And at this moment I felt that all the stories and different versions of what this could be completely faded into just two words, anxiety attack. And this was one of the most helpful steps of the journey.
2- I got to understand the way my body works during an anxiety attack:
The other worst part of not knowing is being unaware of how your body works. She explained that during an attack your body goes into a fight or flight mode, which is the same instinct that it goes to when you are about to be hit by a car. Your blood moves to your muscles to fight a dangerous situation and because you are not running away you feel this movement and it makes you have the heart races and the breath shortage and all the other symptoms. Knowing this helped me remind myself during an attack to be more aware, I’m not dying and I’m not having a heart attack. I am just dealing with an overreaction.
3- I got to know my self much better.
The next step is trying to understand the reason you have anxiety in the first place and you start doubting that speaking about your life is going to be of any help. But I went with it because I was desperate to make it stop. I talked about everything, my childhood, my father’s death and the details of every experience that scarred me. I started realizing that there are many memories that affected me and I buried it in my unconscious mind and convinced myself they weren’t insignificant. Your therapist gets the deepest thoughts and emotions out in front of you, makes you realize them, deal with them and accept them. You start seeing your self from a much clearer perspective.
4- I got to realize that my mental disorder is not part of who I am.
Dealing with anxiety made me convince myself that it is something that has been added to my character that I needed to deal with and accept. The true part of this statement is that I needed to deal with and accept. But what is wrong is that it is not a part of me and it is not who I am. My anxiety was something that is outside of my personality; it is a disorder, an illness and it should be treated. As simple as that, accepting it only means I am trying to get better but dealing with it does not mean I have to believe that it is whom I am. And without a therapist I would have never realized that.
5- I got to choose me.
Thinking about it I could have chosen not to go to a therapist for a million reasons. But what I got to do was choose me. I could’ve been afraid to open up to someone I don’t know, but I chose me. I could’ve been afraid of the various stereotypes that came with it, but I chose me. I could’ve denied the problem and acted like nothing was wrong and that I could deal with it on my own, but I chose me.