A story: “Why therapy changed my life”
September 29, 2017
I remember the day that I decided to start personal therapy. I already made some attempts in the past, but if I am being 100% honest, I never saw it as a real help in the past. It just seemed like the thing to do.
But this time, I was broken inside. That’s the only word I can think of to explain how I felt. Broken. As if I were a vase that someone dropped from the tenth floor of a building. I felt like there was no way I could ever be fixed.
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It wasn’t my first breakup, it probably wouldn’t be my last one, plus we’d only been together a few months… After the break up, I found myself waking up in the mornings with anxiety (at the time, I didn’t know it was called that), and I would cry myself to sleep. I felt the walls of my house falling on top of me, but no one knew. I put on a mask in front of all of my friends and family.
That day that I couldn’t go to work, I couldn’t stop crying. When I called in sick, I could barely pronounce the word because they choked back the pain in my throat. I couldn’t disguise it anymore…
I was physically, mentally, and emotionally drained. I had reached my limit.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I was aware of where these problems were coming from, but I never wanted to face them. I refused to look at my past. I knew I had to do something, but I didn’t know what. It was time to change things. I couldn’t, or rather, I didn’t want to keep making the same mistakes. Every breakup hurt more.
That’s how I decided to take the next step and ask for professional help, because I wanted to change my life but I didn’t know where to start. I was afraid; I felt fear and shame. How could I tell the people around me that I needed a psychologist? I didn’t want them to think I was crazy, and although I have a different perspective now, I recognize that it took a lot to tell my family.
I remember it wasn’t easy, especially at the beginning. The hardest part was opening the door of my feelings to Paul, my therapist. How could I tell anyone about all the things I had done and what I regretted? How could I let him see all the ways that I was hurting myself? I, who seemed “so strong” to the eyes of others… Good thing I let it all out with my therapist, because I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t gotten my true feelings out.
There were many moments when I thought about throwing in the towel, because it was hard to keep acknowledging my vulnerabilities. Sometimes I was really sad or angry, and other days I thought that the therapy was useless because Paul wasn’t telling me all of the things I wanted to hear. Then, when I calmed down, I realized all of the progress I was making, and I decided to keep going with the therapy.
It takes courage to look in the mirror and accept all the different dimensions that make us who we are. That’s when I understood why some people quit therapy, because it’s not easy and it deals with a lot, especially when you realize that some behaviors you’ve always had are toxic (as was in my case).
I guess therapy helped me with just that: it helped me accept and respect who I was, including my demons… and that made everything seem a little clearer around me. It’s like all your life you’ve seen the world just through a pair of sunglasses, and then all of a sudden, you take them off and see the light in a different way.
I was beginning to be aware of what I wanted and deserved, and what I didn’t. My criteria changed and my way of relating to others, which positively affected my relationships. It wasn’t easy, but it did me good, and I felt it within myself.
I was no longer willing to put up with the same things as usual. Not everyone liked that, but I felt better.
I was beginning to care more about what I thought about myself than what others thought, and that led to significantly less suffering.
Now, and especially with my new partner, I don’t blow things out of proportion. I feel like for the first time, I’m with someone who I can sit down and talk with. I have learned to forgive my mother for things in the past, and I learned how to speak about things differently when I’m mad or frustrated. I’m more relaxed, I feel better about myself, and that allows me to be more comfortable with others.
For all that and more, doing therapy changed my life, and that’s why I decided to tell this story today. I want to be able to help change someone else’s life and give them the push that I would have needed at the time. In case someone is reading this and identifies with what I’m saying, here’s what I want to tell you: you don’t have to reach your limit to talk to a psychologist.
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