This one is dedicated to my therapist… A person that I had the luck and privilege to meet when I was in great need. A person that helped me through crucial times. A person that still helps and guides me, so I can become a better person.
This post is about my experience with psychotherapy. Being treated for a mental health issue is a big and complicated deal, so I prefer talking about what I really know and have been through.
I had reached a critical point for my mental health when I finally decided it was time to ask for help. This was almost two years ago.
In the past, I went through a couple of opinions about therapists, some positive, some more on the negative side. But, if you ask me now I will tell you “do it!!”, “you will do yourself a great favor”, “everyone should go to therapy, it changes the way you see things”, etc, etc.
What happened in the space in between then and now? Years of untreated OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, an anxiety disorder), which eventually led to depression and climaxed in suicidal thoughts.
The untreated OCD was like being in a cage. The depression was like being on a desert. The suicidal thoughts can sum up in the moment that I went through, when my mind told me how I could kill myself.
So, I did the wise thing to ask for help. And I’m getting this help, until this day, when I have managed to become some kind of friends with my disorder and being not simply myself, but a continually better version of myself!
In the beginning I had to survive the hard times. I was feeling helpless most of the time, and therapy was the most important thing in doing better! Baby steps first. It was like I was inside a cave, I knew there was light in the end of it, but I couldn’t see it. It took some time and lots of hard work, always under the guidance from my therapist. In my case, some help from medication was needed.
I actually always make a joke about how in the first session, she told me that she was happy that I started my treatment with therapy and not medication. In the fifth session, she told me that “I might also see a psychiatrist (they’re the ones that can prescribe medication) , so I don’t suffer”. Well…
Where was I…?! Oh, yeah! So, medication helps a lot, but I believe that therapy, personal work and the determination to get better are more important. Psychotherapy changes your way of thinking, a lot! It did it for me. The first few months were about overcoming the really difficult situations.
Then, the way I was thinking about things, and the way I was reacting started to change. It didn’t become totally different, but it did impove, always under the basic idea of feeling good and having a good everyday life.
During my therapy, getting rid of my OCD was never a plan, we were aiming on keeping some aspects of it that had to do with my functioning. At some point (while life was happening, and I had to deal with my mother’s cancer and her care), I started working towards making my OCD my friend and cooperating with it. I thought “since I’m living with it, why not cooperating with it as well?!”.
As more time was passing, I realized that I was dealing with life in a much better way, calmer and more mature. I was becoming a real friend to myself, more than ever! I was correcting things I didn’t like, maybe leaving some behind.
In the same time I was working with all these in therapy (and on my own, I keep saying it, but it’s so crucial to work with yourself), I decided to become friends with my body. When you start to feel peaceful inside your mind, you want to go all the way I guess.
And these procedures continue until the moments I’m writing this post actually.
Taking care of your mental health and improving as a person is an ongoing process, it’s a type of growth that never really ends. But I believe psychotherapy is the key, the main door to that world!