I had just turned 17 when I began therapy. I was scared for many reasons. The biggest one was that I didn't know the answers to the questions I would be asked. I stuck it out with this therapist, perhaps longer than I should have. I left every session crying, hating myself more. I felt judged. I felt like a "difficult" client. I knew I needed help, because my anxiety was not normal, but I don't think this person knew how to help me either. She was knowledgable about the laws, and the legal aspect of things. Maybe she would've been a great lawyer, too. What I needed at that point in my life was for someone to validate my feelings, to make the embarrassing things less uncomfortable for me, to be patient with me, and to meet me where I was at.
I never got that. I only got worse. I don't remember my time with her very much. The only thing I took away was a comment she told my worried mother. "Haley doesn't want to die. She just doesn't want to feel like this anymore."
When I decided after a couple months of seeing her that things were not working with her, I let that relationship go, without feeling as though I lost a thing.
That was my first experience with therapy. That very much summed it up for me as to how therapy is, and how all therapists are. You would think I had thrown the therapy idea out the window, but I didn't. I held on to what everyone was telling me. There are other fish (therapists) in the sea. You may have to try around a few times, until you find one you can connect with.
In January of 2016 I reached out to a therapist I had found on Psychology Today.
Maybe it was because I needed someone to talk to.
Maybe it was because I felt misunderstood in my household.
Maybe it was because my doctor continued to recommend Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for me, and I felt guilty each time I walked in having yet contacted one.
I just sent an email out, asking if she was taking new clients. She was. I had my first appointment with her that same week.
I remember leaving that same appointment, feeling hopeful. Feeling understood. Feeling as though I finally found someone I could open up to. Some people have therapist preferences that stand out to them when they are searching. For me, I wanted a female, and for her to be younger. I was afraid of being treated as though my problems were "teenage issues" and my feelings being minimized by someone of an older generation. I wanted to feel comfortable, and for me that meant working with someone around their 30's.
I turn 19 the end of this month. I have been seeing this same therapist for almost 2 years now. She saw me at the worst time in my life, and she was there with me to celebrate the best.
Leaving a therapist can be just as hard as a breakup. You have this person that knows just about everything in your past, your fears for the future, your triggers, your dreams, all of it. How do you know when to let go? Or when you will no longer need them?
These questions had been weighing on me.
I am not that 17 year old girl anymore. In fact, it is work for me to find things to talk about in our sessions now. I am truly in a "life is good" mindset. That should be a great thing! But instead..I found my sessions have been weighing me down, or leaving me feeling more empty than when I had walked in. I no longer felt the spark. I no longer had questions, insights. Not even a worry. Perhaps this is me after all of my hard work finally accepting things as they are. But, I no longer felt empowered by my sessions. I continued to go back, knowing I have "stuff" I mean, we all do.. but none that had been keeping me up at night, or creating overwhelming emotions. I would leave my appointments and almost feel..disappointed. I felt disappointed in myself, that maybe I wasn't using this time as I could be. It felt like energy has been sucked out of me. I had to ask myself, "what am I even doing anymore?"
Instead of beating myself up for these seemingly "blah" sessions. I decided to search for another outlook. Maybe this "time" in session I am not using to the best of my ability, isn't about therapy at all. Could I possibly be doing OK on my own? Is it time for a break?
I held back from telling my therapist I had been considering stopping therapy. I was scared. This "I don't know what I'm doing" turned into "I don't know if I'm doing the right thing."
I have been working on my personal growth, beside some amazing spiritual beings. In our group, we often talk about the negative energies we hold onto in our lives. The energies that do not, or no longer serve us. A *ding* sound, and a bright light bulb when off above my head. I was facing the fact that these appointments I had been dragging myself to weekly, were no longer serving me. I felt obligated to go, to become the best me I could be. I was no longer empowered by talk therapy, and that doesn't mean it is because I am healed. At all. It means there are other options for me, that will empower me, that will also help me heal.
After having an anxious stomach all last weekend, preparing for this official realization, on Tuesday 8/8 I told my therapist what I had been thinking.
Like most things, it did not end up being what I was worried for. She was so understanding, and supportive. It didn't feel like an "ending" it just felt like a break. And I felt confident, and safe enough to take that break.
Her door is always open for me. So if something were to come up, I needed her again, I have that. We talked about my progress. My emotions are easier to manage, as I now know how to best manage them. I have found ways to ground myself with my anxiety. I have improved immensely with knowing my needs, and feeling confident enough to enforce them. I have improved at communicating my needs and my feelings. It is still a challenge for me. Everyone has something, and that is just how it is for me. It is something I improve at each time I work at it. I didn't leave in tears, or question if I was doing the right thing. I felt believed in. By her, and most importantly, myself. I can always go back. There is nothing tying me down. But for now, I left that session feeling like a free bird.
I have a crystal in my pocket. I've started going to yoga classes again around home. (including yoga with cats and kittens!) I finished the last of my 2 summer courses. I have been spending more time outside this summer than I ever have. And it feels cheesy to add this, but I am oh so happy.
Something as simple as "what makes you happy?" "how do you spend your days?" and comparing the two lists can really get your life into gear. Honestly, I was afraid to trust myself. It is this fear in the back of my head that there is a chance I could end up where I once was. Excuse me, but I'm telling that fear to "F off" and to look at all I have done on my own. I listened to the signs, I trusted my instinct, and I followed it. I am ready to see where I am guided now.
A Boston social work student, using writing for healing. Sharing the peaks and valleys of an empath's mental health journey.