Therapy and what it was like: an update

by - June 23, 2023

The original post on therapy was written when I had just started therapy. Having finished therapy in January 2022, I have had time to reflect on the overall experience. I wanted to document what it was like, what I have learned and my overall takeaways from the experience. 

What I learnt from being in therapy:

Therapy is not a magic fixer - you also need to put in the work. 

At some points, I think I felt a little disappointed that I did not feel like I had made more progress or that I did not feel massively better.  I think a part of me had almost thought that simply the act of going to therapy would make a huge difference. Especially since the whole process of trying to access therapy and obtain a referral was difficult and longwinded, I think I expected a lot from it. However, therapy gives you tools to work out how you feel or how to better engage with emotions and manage them. It is not so much about seeing a radical change and more about what you learn that you can apply in the future. 

You need to feel your emotions. 

Running away from your emotions or distracting yourself constantly will only delay what you feel. When you do this a lot, there comes a point where you will reach a breaking point and burn out or become incredibly overwhelmed with lots of unprocessed emotions. Distracting yourself from negative emotions sometimes is okay and important, but you also need to allow yourself the space and time to acknowledge they are there and work through them. 

You will still have bad days. 

I still have bad days. I still have moments where my emotions feel really intense and I am feeling many things at once. The difference is I feel therapy helped me learn to manage them better or at least gave me a tool kit to deal with them better. 

The key to overcoming difficult experiences and rough times is learning to live with them. 

One of the most important things I have taken from therapy is acceptance. I think for a long time, I just wanted to completely change the situation and circumstances I found myself in. I hated how it all made me feel and so all I could do on some level was wish it had never happened to me and wonder why it had happened to me. We cannot change what has happened and what we have lived through. However, we can learn to live with it and rebuild our lives so that our negative experiences do not dominate our lives.

Progress is not linear.  

I have said on my blog before that your path most likely will not be linear and whilst scary, that is okay. Turns out mental health is no different. Honestly, some days you will feel like you have taken two steps forward and one step back. Whilst that is demoralising and sometimes made me question whether there was even a point to it all, setbacks do not mean you have not made some progress. Setbacks are a part of the process. 

The most useful sessions will be your hardest ones. 

Therapy is not meant to be easy. My most useful sessions were also my hardest sessions. The most progress will likely come from difficult conversations you probably would rather not have. It will force you to remember and recount things you do not want to because they are painful. 

Experience and learning how you react to situations is worth so much. 

Sometimes as well as engaging in therapy, you just have to live through difficult experiences a few times to learn how to cope. At points, I felt frustrated that therapy did not drastically seem to change my anxiety. Where therapy was helpful was in helping me place a label on what I was experiencing, which helped me understand what I was going through. In terms of learning to live with anxiety and cope with it, ultimately, that has come from having experienced it many times and slowly working out what helps me. 

Help keep me caffeinated 🤍 ☕️

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