The benefits of therapy
I’ve been in therapy for nearly four years now and during my last therapy session I suddenly opened up on how much therapy has been life changing for me. Something I was just a little bit aware of, but not completely. It ended up in a liberated and ‘feel good’ conversation with my therapist.
I’ve been mentioning a lot of my issues on previous blog posts, but to make a long story short, I will try to inform you briefly about why I’m in therapy. In the end of 2009 I basically lost my groove, became depressed, lost my well paid job of seven years because of it, dealing with debts and other financial issues, which also caused a lot of stress, suffering from psychosis – hearing and seeing things that aren’t there. It wasn’t until June 2010 that I really needed help. If I think about it today, I wouldn’t have known where to start back then. If it wasn’t for my dad dragging me out of my apartment to go see a doctor, who then referred me to see a psychiatrist, I would probably still be in a dark hole of nothing. And with having occasional suicidal thoughts back then as well, it might have been something that would have killed me.
Before I was in therapy, and I’m refering to myself a couple of years before I got sick, I was pretty much a closeted person. I was living life, going to work, having drinks with friends, traveling the world and just having fun. I felt comfortable being surrounded by co-workers who I also considered as friends. I didn’t worry much about feelings and emotions. I was in my so-called “comfort zone”. My feelings and emotions wasn’t really what I was thinking about. Also memories about my teenage years when I was bullied and also about my sexuality. It was all bottled up inside. I did came to terms that I was gay, but it wasn’t a topic that I spoke freely about, unless it’s with someone who I trust and felt comfortable with. I had no worries at all back then. Just work and living life the fullest.
About six months or so before I got the sack, I became depressed. I didn’t know what was happening and why I suddenly felt down all the time. It had a huge impact on my performance at work. I also suffered from migraines, so I called in sick a lot. And at one point I was just done with everything. So, I had a mutual agreement at work with human resources, to just let me go. My mind was all over the place and at that time I didn’t care for anything anymore. It also felt like the whole world was against me and that I was the only one who was dealing with bad things and everyone else didn’t. Today I think that’s something that any person who is depressed would think like. The feeling like you are all alone!
A lot of people are skeptical about therapy. Opening up about their personal life, dealing with their problems, thoughts and emotions. It’s something that I can totally understand. It’s a stereotypical view that people have and a lot of people don’t know how to deal with “imperfection”, so they choose to go into another direction and not deal with it. Because it makes them feel safe and universally accepted. Even I was like that before I started therapy. How could a total stranger help me with what I am dealing with? That perspective totally changed for me today.
What I have learned now is that running away from your problems is a race you’ll never win.
I want to share with you what the benefits of therapy are for myself. It also might be something that you will find useful or helpful too.
Getting to know yourself better, on a deeper level. Now that’s a challenge! At least for me it was. I learned so much about myself, things I wasn’t even aware of! Now, how could that be possible? I learned to ask and answer questions like “why do I think like that?”, “why do I behave like that?” and “why do I feel like that?”. It pushed me to deeper questions of personal experience and deep feelings. In the four years that I’m in therapy I went back and forth to the core of my being, many times. And still ’til this day it feels like I’ve only learned and understand just a little bit about myself. I’m sure there’s plenty more to learn and understand.
When you dive into your own issues, thoughts and feelings, you will also discover insight that can help you understand what other people are going through or dealing with, like your partner, a family member, a friend or maybe even a co-worker or your boss. It allowed me to have deeper understanding of others and show more empathy.
Healing the wounds
I’ve learned that the wounds from the past caused my depression. It’s interesting that it took a toll on my well being fifteen years later. I came to understand the fact that the wounds were never really healed. I did a good job bottling it all up, but the bottle got so full it exploded.
I learned that acknowledging is the first step to healing. Acknowledge the truth! In the past I have been bullied, ridiculed and tormented. I have been bullied, ridiculed and tormented. I have been bullied, ridiculed and tormented.
It took me a long time to let it all out with my therapist, having several EMDR treatments as well. The big challenge for me was to think and go back to that specific moment, when I was about 15 years old, just outside of school. I tried to avoid the group of bullies who were waiting for me at my bicycle. The feelings and thoughts when I noticed they were outside waiting for me while I was waiting inside for them to leave. Trying to analyze the fear, the thoughts and the feelings I felt of being powerless and fragile. Thoughts that went through my head when I eventually decided to try and suck it up and just go get my bicycle and go home. The feelings that went through my body, the feelings of fear when a group of bullies called me names like “homo” and “faggot”, pushed me around, punched me in the stomach, smeared a peanutbutter sandwich in my hair and kicked the wheel of my bicycle so it was all bent.
I kept it all inside. I didn’t even tell my parents about it. Not until I started therapy four years ago. Again, I acknowledge. I have been bullied, ridiculed and tormented.
Thanks to therapy and EMDR I have put the past behind me. Am I completely healed? I think I am. I mean, I still think about it sometimes, but I’ve learned to give it a special place and I also learned to feel and think differently about it. I don’t feel depressed or sad anymore when I think back about being bullied. The only thing I’m dealing with right now is the sudden social anxiety it caused. But that is the issue I am currently working on together with my therapist. And it’s a work in progress. Slowly, maybe, but I’m getting there.
Recognizing the pattern
Another thing I learned from therapy is to be aware and understand what the past gave to me. To recognize the pattern of how I think and what I do in the present time. In order to move forward and not to be stuck, it is important to look at yourself first and see the pattern.
Look at what you do!
When I was bullied in the past, it caused me to feel insecure today. Having fear of being denied, fear of being judged, fear of failing and the fear of meeting new people and being around people. The pattern that I currently try hard to overcome is avoidance. Avoiding social contact, because I’m scared. That’s biggest pattern I have to overcome. It’s a work in progress. But recognizing the pattern makes it easier to be aware of my actions.
It took me a while to get used to it, talking to a stranger about my problems. But in the end it feels so good to have someone to talk to and who listens to you with full attention and focus. It’s different than when you talk to a friend or a family member. It’s like a therapist really understands you.
Another thing that I like is that a therapist never, ever judges you. When I started therapy it was hard for me to open up. It maybe took me about a year to really get out of my shell. In the beginning when the topic of my sexuality came up, it was hard for me to talk about it. Even when I accepted myself for being gay, it was still a subject that I had trouble opening up about. At some point I also explained why I had trouble talking about it. Because I was bullied and most of society is having a big issue with it. But right now it’s not even an issue anymore to talk about it with my therapist.
Having the attention and listening ear from my therapist, I also learned to be more open towards others and what they have to say, to provide a listening ear to someone else in need and reach out and help. Because I know that it’s hard to have someone like that in your life, someone who really listens and understand. And in the past four years I’ve learned a lot of great tools from my therapist, so it would be good to use some of the things I learned to help someone else. And maybe try to have someone seek a therapist too. Because you know, it is okay to see a therapist!
Truth will set you free
If I would compare the person I am today with the person I was four years ago, I’ve changed so much! In a good way. I guess I feel more free and liberated in a way, by getting a lot of things out of my system. Being open and honest with myself and with others. To be able to talk about my issues and not feeling ashamed by it. Being able to understand the problems I sometimes have. Being aware of my emotions and thoughts and understanding where they are coming from. Recognizing the pattern of how I deal with negative things, and then try to change that. Learning more and more about myself. It’s all been really good so far.
Also, the relationship with my parents and I have gotten stronger too. They have joined me three times during a session and I’m so glad that they have. I used to have trouble expressing myself towards my parents, but therapy also gave them clear insight on my well being and they understand me more today. To me personally, I find it very important that they do. They are my parents, I love them with all my heart and they have always been there for me. And they still are today.
To my parents I am still their little boy, no matter how old I am. And trutfully, I won’t have it any other way. I can be truthful to them and it really feels good!
So now what?
These are the few benefits that therapy has given me. While I am writing this blog and reading it back, I really came to notice that I have changed a lot. I just cannot say it enough. And I’m sure there is so much more to learn about myself as I grow older. And truthfully, I am ready for whatever comes my way.
I am still in therapy and I will continue my sessions every week. I also have other plans that I kinda look forward to, together with my therapist and a support organization. They will help me overcome my social anxiety. That will happen within a couple of weeks. It’s scary, but I will give it my all. And I have to focus on not to try it, but do it.
Thanks for reading my blog. Hopefully my positive experience with therapy is helpful to you. If you feel like your life is falling down or you are wounded by something from the past, or anything else that makes you feel like your stuck, just take a moment, pause, and look at yourself and recognize your pattern. Understand it, acknowledge the truth and be willing to open up! When you do, then it all starts from there. Whatever the bad thing is that you’re dealing with in your life, you are not to blame. That’s also something I learned. It’s not my fault that life turned out differently for me. But I acknowledged it and I am willing to work on it and grow.
I feel I can go on about this subject, but I will save the rest for another time. Have a great day, everyone!