Therapy, for the most part sounds – scary as hell. Trust me, I spent a long time contemplating the notion of therapy, wondering if I needed it and if I did, how I could ask for it without feeling utterly embarrassed.
For the longest time I thought having therapy was a bad thing. A last result for people not strong enough to work their own stuff out, a dumping ground for people who have failed at life and in need of rescuing, a place you go to find out how messed up you are – a place you call ‘the dentist’ to those who don’t know you are going.
How ridiculous. An amalgamation of views acquired from years of observing how others were spoken of when in therapy whether that be on the TV or at a friendly gathering. Wherever those ideas came from, they were damaging, untrue and meant that it took me years to finally get the help I needed, even if it did come when I was at absolute breaking point.
Therapy is actually a place I like to call the ‘School of Self’. I love my hour sessions each week and honestly feel we should all be assigned these guardian angel type life guides (therapists) from birth. The world is not an easy place to navigate at the best of times and our learned behaviours from young children inevitably shape the adults we become. Oftentimes, the patterns embedded in our adult selves need altering, re-wiring and looking into. To most, this sounds scary, like something we should avoid at all costs – but honestly, there is nothing more fascinating and soul-warming about learning who you truly are, and this can ALL unfold in therapy.
Therapy can come in many forms and often you will have some sort of introductory session that will help discover which is the best therapy for you. There is a therapist or counsellor for everything, so don’t ever feel that you don’t have a serious enough problem to be considered for help. Whatever your concern, you will be taken seriously. If you need extra reassurance on what to expect, there are lots of videos on YouTube that are helpful along with the regular google searches. If you want to see who is available in your local area, ‘It’s good to talk‘ is a good place to start and if you aren’t quite ready for real human interaction (and that is completely normal) then ‘7 cups’ free online support might just be for you.
If I haven’t quite convinced you to see a therapist or engage with therapy – here are 9 further reasons that might just give you the nudge you need.
You want to love and accept yourself
There are often lots of things we perceive to be wrong with us, from the way we look, feel and act. Not truly loving ourselves can get us into situations that we find hard to get out of, it can mean we aren’t completely fulfilling our potential and cause us to lack confidence and self-esteem. These all have huge knock on effects and over time can be incredibly draining and time consuming. At worst, the small things can become huge, unmanageable and painful. Therapy helps you to address these things and find a place of acceptance, understanding and balance. You may even discover deeper reasons behind the way you perceive yourself or how you feel in certain situations. Once you are in this place, growth happens and growth is the precursor to living a more fulfilled and happy life. You are an incredible human being with so much to offer this world, if you seek therapy, you’ll find out how wonderful you really are and learn to love yourself harder for it.
Do you have relationships you’d like to improve? Do you have triggers that result in the same outcomes every time? Perhaps you have a reoccurring way you deal with money, health or people. Self-improvement in any of these areas require change. If what you are doing right now isn’t giving you the results you require then something might need to change. Therapy can help you understand where your patterns and behaviours may be coming from and uncover the reasons why you feel compelled to repeat them. With the right techniques in place you can actually create new, healthier patterns of behaviour and thought that enable new, more positive outcomes. It takes time, but it’s more than possible. Once you are ready to commit yourself to the idea that you can achieve positive change, you’ll start to see big differences in the way you live your life.
Not only is anxiety an energy sucking vampire, it’s extremely hard to continue living life when it starts popping up at the most inconvenient times. Anxiety, if left untreated, can be completely disabling and lead to social isolation, withdrawal and depression. CBT and exposure therapy are common therapies used to treat people suffering from anxiety related problems and can be very helpful in doing so. Again, therapy for anxiety can help to discover where the feeling of unease or fear may be stemming from and help put in place coping strategies and techniques in order to combat them. You can learn to challenge the thoughts that trigger your anxiety and get back to enjoying your life once you know exactly how to deal with it. It’s worth speaking to your GP if you are suffering from Anxiety – you will likely have options including anti-anxiety medication, talking and group therapies. There are also many mindfulness apps that can help you take note of your triggers or help you to breathe your way out of a panic attack.
Trauma and past experiences
Lots of people struggle and sometimes this is unconscious – sometimes stemming from things that may have happened to them in their past. Psychodynamic therapists can help you to address these issues and the uncomfortable feelings of shame and regret. People who have experienced traumatising incidents can live for years without recognising what they have gone through in other cases emotions and trauma surface quickly after a stressful event. Everyone is different. What’s important here is you take the time to recognise something has happened to you and know that it is completely OK to talk about it. You are worthy of therapy and you deserve to find your inner peace. Specific therapies such as EMDR (eye movement desensitisation reprocessing) are best suited for people suffering from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).
Withdrawing from things you once loved
Whether you are withdrawing from your friends and families or your love of sports – withdrawal can be an underlying symptom of Depression. If you are struggling to enjoy your life, feel underwhelmed by things that once excited you and feel powerless or alone – talking to your GP is a good place to start. If you are having thoughts of suicide, you can always phone or text Samaritans – whatever you do, please talk to someone. Therapy will be a good strong base for you to focus on yourself each session and build you back up to a place where you can find joy in life once again. Don’t give up. The change is waiting for you and you will get through this – don’t make the mistake of thinking you can do it all alone – we are super human but not that super human. Seeking help doesn’t make you weak – it makes you strong!
Disorganised Sleeping Patterns
You could be sleeping all day and all night and not feeling any more energised than when your head hit the pillow. In contrast, you might be awake for days, over excited and nearing a complete burnout. There are lots of ways our sleep patterns can be disrupted by our mental health. Our sleep (or lack of) has the ability to affect our mood, energy and overall health. Sleeping medication isn’t always a great way to go and a last resort for many, but CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) can help you to place healthier daytime habits and adjust your sleep patterns. You might be given homework such as keeping a sleep diary and detailing times you felt refreshed or exhausted. This will help your therapist tailor the correct treatment plan to help you move forward.
A place to feel empowered
There are lots of reasons why people feel compelled to seek therapy and often they relate to uncomfortable patterns they might want to change. But there are other reasons therapy might be good for you including, coping with stress, learning preventative techniques to put in place for moments of sudden change or distress. The best thing we can is load ourselves with the skills we need to build resilience and affect positive change. You don’t have to be suffering from anxiety or depression to seek therapy, you might want someone to listen to how you feel about a member of your family or simply how to deal with a difficult person in your workplace. Perhaps you have a fitness goal or want to learn how to forgive someone. Whatever it is, therapy is a space for you to learn about yourself, grow and feel empowered by taking time out to love yourself. It’s often 50 minutes long and it’s dedicated to you – a space for you to talk about everything and anything, even if at the time it might not feel relevant, there will be a reason why you’ve chosen to talk about it. Growth happens here, as does change and together those things can feel hugely empowering. Why wouldn’t you want to feel like that?
Ditch the self-medicating
Self-medicating to “deal” with psychological stuff is incredibly common. But it usually does more harm than good. Picking up that glass of wine every time you feel stressed or taking extra cigarette breaks to avoid the situation at hand will only mask a problem. This is always temporary and it doesn’t come without its consequences. These cycles can be highly addictive and really hard to get out of. Recognising the pattern is your first step. Realising you are avoidant or masking true emotions with a fake happiness/high can exacerbate the underlying problem. Therapy will help you take note of this and offer suggestions for change. There are so many ways to cope, your therapist will help you discover what ways will likely help you the most and from there, you’ll begin to discover healthier ways of coping.
You are worth working it out
You’ve reached my final point. This already tells me that you are ready to take the next step and seek the help you truly deserve! There a so many ways to find help and even with long waits for therapy on the NHS, there are lots of private practices and charities that will be able to help you. Take time to write down a few things you know you want to work on, look deeper into and remind yourself that you are not the only one in the world feeling the way you do. We all have moments where life can become overwhelmingly difficult and it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but the light is there and you are worth that journey. I truly hope this post has inspired you to go and get the support you need and deserve because I can hand on heart tell you, it will be the best decision you ever made.