It was a time in my life when I had hit an all-time low. I was constantly upset and angry, and there was nothing that I could do to combat the inner feeling of rage and angst. I could no longer identify the cause or get to the root. It was just second nature to go into these full-blown rage episodes.
They were growing in intensity as the years passed, to the point that they were so intense I would blackout during it. I could never re-call the damage done during these episodes. My rage episodes were bad, especially if you were with me during one of them. Whoever I was with go rained on. I did this not because the person had any fault, but because I was so tired of being mad at myself all the time I had to take it out on someone else. Just to deflect the pain and anger for a bit.
I decided last December that it was time — so I googled some therapists in the area and found one. I remember making the call for a quick phone meet and greet.
Nothing could have prepared me for this phone call. While I was playing it out in my mind, it was so much easier. When I heard the therapists’ voice on the other side of the phone, I instantly froze in fear. It was the most humiliating feeling in my life. It was like the walk of shame only tenfold. I felt as though I had cracked and all I could see were my flaws.
I remember the phone call so vividly. I was in this lightly dimmed grocery store parking lot, it was freezing while I was sitting in my car taking this call (it was the middle of December). She asked me what my reasons were for seeking out therapy. I remember thinking to myself, What were my reasons? Ironically that was something that I never ever considered to think — the why?(I think I automatically thought that a therapist would know why I was seeking them out?). When asking me the questions, I literally had no clue why I called and was so close to hanging up and bailing, I mean I knew why. It was the first time that I had been put in front of myself. To point out MY flaws. Something I’ve tried my whole life to hide from the world. So when it came to vocalize these thing I froze all over. Breathing life into the things I worked so hard to push down.
What I learned during one year:
- Therapy is a journey not a “quick fix”
You need to be in this for the long haul. Like everything in your life you need to work at things to see the results. Think of therapy like the gym, practising a new skill or whatever you like to do that involves consistency and pushing yourself. Like that famous line from “Shrek” about the onions. You are like an onion with many layers, it takes time to go through all the layers of yourself. Peeling them back is the hardest part. It’s that vulnerability, the fear of the unknown, the judgement, being exposed… all those thoughts are what makes it harder. Just keep your eyes on the road ahead, enjoy your journey there because the process is what life is about. It’s about the good, bad and ugly. You’ll get to your end designation eventually, but stop and smell the roses on your way there.
2. There’s going to be tears, lots of them.
I cried, and cried and continued to cry. I think the first 6 months of my therapy sessions were just me in tears. I broke down the wall that I had put up for most of my life, and if you are someone who needs to be in control all the time about everything this just puts your body into great deals of shock. I was so numb from all the walls I put up around myself, shoving all my sadness and trauma so deep down inside me that when I started to rip the walls down and let it all out I was just a mess. But that’s ok!
Sometimes you will also feel that you are not making progress and slipping back into the hole you were initially trying to get out of. You will never fall back into that hole, as much as I thought so too — you never do. Like Pandora’s box, once opened it is hard to close. Everything is out in the open and you have seen it all.
3. Be patient, gentle and consistent — like all things in life good things take time!
For some of us, the walls we’ve built around ourselves are so sturdy because we’ve been building them up for years and years that to tear them down takes some time. You need to commit a hundred percent for therapy to work. Some sessions are harder than others. But if you stay consistent with your appointments, do the work, be patient with the fact that you will see changes in yourself over time. Keep in mind the work you have put in, and the skills learned that have equipped you with the knowledge you have now to never allow it to hurt you again. You now know the pattern or the trends. I say to be gentle with yourself because self-talk sets the tone and what we think of ourselves. If that voice inside tells you negative things, you eventually believe it, even though it is untrue. Remember that this is a journey, long, tiring and, you will feel like giving up during it. Trust me, stick with it, give it 12 months as that is a fair amount of time to be an indicator to see the changes.
As always, good luck on your mental health journey. You are taking steps to be a better you. The first steps are always the hardest but note that you are stepping forward not, backward. Anything you do to benefit yourself is the ultimate form of self-care.