“I don’t really have a big problem. It’s just that…”
“I don’t really have a big problem. It’s just that…” Those were my first words yesterday. I almost felt guilty for going to therapy when many other people were suffering from far more difficult situations than I was.
Except that therapy is not a judgmental space. Anyone can (should) go.
I hesitated to do so for years. Maybe I was afraid of what might happen. Maybe I didn’t bother because I was feeling good. But yesterday I went to my very first session, and I’m glad I did.
Even though I went home feeling like I’d been punched in the face.
I tried not to cry but I still cried.
I felt tears welling up in my eyes a few times. My chin started to tremble. But I managed not to let the doors open. Until we talked about school bullying. I didn’t expect to cry about it. I really didn’t. I didn’t think I cared anymore. Except that’s when the gate opened.
The therapist stood up, picked up the box of tissues, and gently placed it next to me. I felt a little ashamed. “I’m sorry,” I told her. She replied that it was okay.
Crying is apparently part of the process. Many people I know who go to therapy regularly tell me that they sometimes cry a lot, sometimes not at all. Therapy is about digging up things that are peacefully stuck deep inside. When you make waves, it comes to the surface. So it’s perfectly normal — and okay — to cry.
I walked out feeling dazed but lighter.
We talked about the emptiness of life. The meaning of existence. The question that comes up every time I feel energy, joy, and inspiration to start a new project, “What for?”. We talked about time, and how we are supposed to use it. All of these questions reached long-buried things about the excellence I was raised in, about my relationship with my loved ones, about this eternal quest for more and better.
I barely felt like myself when I stumbled out of the room. I felt like I had been punched in the face.
But at the same time, I felt lighter. Because I had let things out of myself. I could feel how much of a mess I was, but the discouragement this could cause was overtaken by the feeling that I was on the right track, and that only positive results could happen from then on.
I felt lighter because, even after just one session, I had a better understanding of myself and the patterns that govern my behaviors. I had started to unravel things. I felt lighter because the therapist, through her words, gave me permission to stop trying to be perfect. To rest. To stop feeling guilty for not working all the time or not doing something productive.
The Bottom Line
I was already convinced that everyone should go to therapy at least once in their lives. Now I’m thinking that every person on Earth should see a therapist regularly throughout their life. Honestly, this thing is real. It’s powerful.
“Talking to a qualified mental health professional is an experience like no other,” clinical psychologist Dr. Josh Klapow, host of The Web Radio Show, tells Bustle. “It is a time for you to be vulnerable, be expressive, explore your inner challenges and deal with problems that many of us keep to ourselves. All with a trained professional guiding you through. If you are suffering you need to talk to a qualified mental health professional. It could change your life.”
They will not provide answers. They will not judge you. They won’t minimize your sadness.
They will bring about self-understanding, which is the only thing that can induce genuine change.
It’s a bit of a budget, for sure, but it’s worth it. I went in thinking my problem was work-related. I came out realizing that it was something else entirely and that it stemmed from several weaknesses that I had been carrying around with me for a while.
If you have ever thought about going to therapy, I encourage you to take the step. The decision is, and always should be, yours. But from the experience I had yesterday, I can tell you:
It’s necessary, and it’s helpful. And there’s no reason to be afraid of it.