Talk Therapy- Gems from the Past Ten Years

Talk Therapy- Gems from the Past Ten Years

I know, ten years is a long time to be doing anything, especially doing something as tedious as soul-searching with a relative stranger. In my mid-twenties, I was in a bad place and my struggles became apparent to anyone that knew me.

After a priority referral from my doctor, I was ‘on the couch’ and expected to vent. Naturally, it was difficult to be vulnerable and give name to the emotions. I did it though, and a decade later, I’ve learned six major things.

1. Take your meds

No brainer, right? Though, I realize not everyone that engages with a therapist is taking psych medication, but in my experience, I’d already been on anti-depressants for a year or two. Despite prescription and dose changes, I seemed to be getting worse. It wasn’t until I saw my second psychiatrist that we seemed to make headway.

To this day, it’s a struggle to adhere to a daily regimen, though I know skipping is equivalent to shooting myself in the foot. It’ll have me taking steps backward and undoing the progress I’ve made. It has helped to have alarms, pill boxes, and an accountability partner.

2. Do the work

During or near the end of every session, I’d be assigned ‘homework.’ It would seem like a waste of time to write five things that I liked about myself, or to practice mindfulness, when all I wanted to do was sleep.

What I found was that doing it anyway, repetitively, helped negative self-talk and built character. Journaling was a great way to express the angst and get into the routine of writing.

3. Push yourself

We’ve all had days when it’s difficult to get started on a new project or finish assignments before a deadline, but I’m not talking about that. I’m referring to those days when getting out of bed takes every ounce of strength. When I would rather hide in my hole than go to work and gladly accept the fallout.

I learned to do one thing at a time.

“Self, all you have to do is get out of this bed and use the restroom. Since you’re up, you can brush your teeth,” and so on.

Knowing it works makes the first step easier to take and I’ve employed this countless times.

4. “In Case of Emergency” tool kit

My therapist closes nearly every session by reminding me that I have the tools I need, but I may reach out if I need to. If a significant life event occurs like the death of a family member, a job change, or a rejection, I just have to recall what I‘ve already learned.

Do the meditation and mindfulness to quell anxiety.

Don’t isolate if I’m feeling down.

Take time to care for myself if I’ve been working too much.

Don’t wait to seek help. Call someone! I’ve been blessed to have a good support system, but I’ve been in places where I could see nothing but darkness. Lifeline can be an asset.

5. Help Yourself by Helping Others

Nothing takes my mind off my own struggles like caring for someone else. I love helping others to feel better or inspired. Routinely I do not readily share that I have treatment resistant depression which has crippled me for years. I do not boast of having anxiety that has led to panic attacks, neither am I proud of having borderline personality disorder which has led to rapid mood swings and a fear of abandonment.

However, with the statistics of mental illness being what they are, I am happy to be open with my experiences if they can help someone else.

6. Celebrate the Small Things

The days when all I manage to do is shower and eat, I count it a win. When I stick to taking my meds for several days in a row without forgetting, I’m patting myself on the back. I began to see a pattern in this self-reward system.

Even if the accomplishment was miniscule in the grand scheme, seeing that I could actually do it, regardless of how bad I felt, caused me to develop a strength I didn’t have before.

In conclusion, my journey has birthed much self-discovery. When I get discouraged, I only need to look back at where I was years or even months ago. Full resolution may or may not be in the cards, but I am grateful for the strength I’ve built, the skills I’ve learned, and the patience I’ve gained.

Photo by Drif Riadh on Unsplash

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