A year of therapy reflections

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Reflection of therapy

The following may have trigger warnings.
I’ve found it’s possible to lie to the therapist, to social media, or even in the deepest one on one holy moment with a close best friend. By lying, I mean to edit and omit and dance around our stuff, to be completely dishonest to
avoid being a burden. But I can see why it happens: the hiding. The hard work is hard. Being aware is
painful.

A year of therapy reflections
A year of therapy reflections

Digging deep into trauma and grief and old memories is painful. Especially if it’s reoccurring. Sign me up for pineapple on pizza instead please *ultimate gag*. Scheduling vulnerability is a weird proposition. No therapist is perfect an hour is not always enough; the logistics of making time when living with illnesses and disabilities and praying that you don’t get traumatized, in the process of dodging medical racism.

Want the right therapist but hands tied due to the consequences of waiting lists & a lottery system. It’s a lot of
barriers that feel impossible when you’re already drained and hopeless. Therapy is also not a fix-it where the therapist says a magical combination of words to unlock your stuff. It requires a willingness. To at least meet ten
percent of the way. It’s to be still under a scalpel that you know is pressing in. Therapy is also not a fix-it where the therapist says a magical combination of words to unlock your stuff. It requires a willingness. To at least meet ten percent of the way.

It’s to be still under a scalpel that you know is pressing in. And it was difficult to open up at first. This came, due to the experiences of being suicidal and trying to engage, trial and error of either being denied treatment from a few well-meaning charities, because they do not provide counseling for severe and lengthy mental health issues that I have. Or not having the resources to keep me long-term.

When I try to imagine where I’d be today without therapy, I imagine a completely different person. A year ago, I was barely surviving I had relapsed in self-harming, failing academically, and was on so little sleep I had
hallucinations. I went to that windowless place again, always wanting to end it all, where I imagined my funeral every minute and wanted no one there. I wondered if I was too far gone, too damaged, a waste of space.

It’s very common for people to question whether the therapy works in the first place. I questioned it at times. The thing about therapy is, it doesn’t work the way, say, a medication might, where when you have symptoms, you take a drug targeting those symptoms, and hopefully, after some amount of time, those symptoms go away. Oh, how I wish it was that straightforward! I found that therapy is more about taking the time to look for and treat the source of the wound. And I have a lot.

In between it all, I started antidepressants again. Met with trusting but selective people, one on one as safely as I could, who don’t gaslight or cause me further harm. The importance of community. Held onto my deconstructing faith. To finish up on this, what I would say to anyone reading this in therapy or considering is: Therapy is one more tool in our mental health ”toolbox” – the way we use it depends on us. It’s important to look and/or talk to your therapist about what you expect to gain from therapy to figure out a suitable path for your therapy journey.

Some people might benefit from just having a couple of sessions, others, on the other hand, may have long-term therapy for months or years, or they might choose to go to therapy intermittently whenever they feel like they want or need it. All is so valid. Therapy stigma is still incredibly pervasive, and it often shows up in relatively
subtle ways; it’s not always about flat-out demonizing therapy. If you feel like you’ve been guilty of contributing to therapy stigma, it’s totally understandable.

Stigma is often spoon-fed to us through culture and media, and it requires a lot of self-awareness to break these patterns. What matters is that we choose to learn, develop, and do better in the future. When you do not actively engage in healing work to address a traumatic experience, time does not heal the invisible wounds. Time disguises the symptoms which can show up as problematic attachment patterns in relationships, unhealthy parenting styles, and negative beliefs about yourself to name a few.

With all that being said, I want to leave a reminder that: Therapists, mental health workers, “healers” all have a responsibility to acknowledge that therapy or healing work alone isn’t justice, liberation, or a replacement for systematic change. Healing from systemic pain requires systemic change and as vital individuals in such systems, need to acknowledge this and be part of the change.

Despite living with suicidal ideation, a year later I am still alive. I am here. I know too many who don’t have the resources, struggle to accept help or who try everything and still don’t make it. None of it was their fault. Depression and other forms of mental illnesses are cruel, that costly. I wonder often if the next one will win. I wonder how long. Working with a therapist has given me the language that I need to articulate my struggles and the freedom to name the issues that I have internalized over the years.

I am still here. Still working through it all. And that’s all I can try to do.

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