I have been in & out of therapy a lot. I mean, A LOT. At any time of my life since I was 18 I have used therapy as a constant corner stone of my life any time I have needed additional support. Full disclosure (if it wasn't self evident already): I am a huge advocate of all kinds of therapy. I believe that having an impartial & dedicated time & space to give your life attention is as essential to self care & recovery as anything else you can do for your mental wellbeing.
Pretty bold statement right? Well it is true. I attribute a large part of the person I am today to being a 'child of therapy.' I talk about it openly & with no shame. I will drop it into sentences as candidly as saying I have an appointment to get my hair cut, because I believe that it should be considered as much a part of our basic maintenance as a trim.
And here is why:
Life is exceptionally hard. It is cruel, complicated, isolating & bewildering. It can be filled with the intensity of grief, the coldness of loneliness & the force of societal pressures & that is even before you throw in the complications of any mental health conditions. We are not built to deal with these things alone. We all need & deserve support.
Ok, so many this touchy feely thing does not appeal to you. I can understand that. Well, let me put it another way: our brains at their most basic are like computers - overload them with too much information & too many simultaneous processes & they will eventually slow down & even stop if we do not maintain them. Switching off is an essential first step, but sometimes we need a deeper debug.
Despite my strong advocacy, therapy is not always, in fact, hardly ever is an easy process. Invariably the things that bring about the most change never are. I have sat in silence for an entire session because I wasn't ready to answer a questions; I have told my therapist that I was paying her to listen to me so she obviously didn't really care; I have left a session & walked around for hours because I wasn't ready to stand still with my thoughts yet. It has been so utterly devastating in places that I have never wanted to go back. But, I always do exactly for that reason.
For me, sitting awkwardly in a therapy session for an hour is now significantly easier than sitting awkwardly with a feeling for days, months or even years. I know the dangers of suppressing my emotions & can feel when it is time to talk to someone. I recognise my triggers & understand what generates my anxieties. In short, I know myself significantly better & understand how to make myself contented & keep myself well.
I have been told many times that therapy is hugely self indulgent & perhaps it is. But honestly, what is wrong with that? Therapy allows you the time to step away from all the other draws on your energy & attention & focus on what you feel & need. It is the only time I can think of where I am not considering someone else's feelings & focus entirely only myself. You are going to call me selfish again, but by doing this It has made me a better daughter, friend & partner exactly because I take time to understand myself.
And if that makes me selfish, well, I think I can learn to be ok with that.