The Positive Effect of Therapy

It hit me yesterday how much therapy is positively impacting my life since I began it almost exactly two months ago. I haven’t felt miserable in at least a month, probably more. Don’t get me wrong, I have had plenty of bad days and more than plenty bad moments since December, but as for the dangerous levels of misery I reached in November? I haven’t even come close. Even looking back to this time last month, when I was on the edge of a panic attack at work due to anxiety over something that hadn’t even happened yet (and ended up  not happening at all), I can’t believe how far I’ve come.

At first, I thought that maybe this happier life has nothing to do with therapy; maybe I just wasn’t going through the same things I went through in November. But that’s not true. In November, though I saw my friends and texted them and Facebooked with them, I felt friendless and incredibly alone. To be honest, I felt entirely unloved by everyone. I was stressed out about work. I felt talentless because I didn’t have a show. I was completely freaking out about my personal life.

Now, I’d say I talk and see my friends about the same amount, but I don’t feel unloved. I voluntarily text them and tell them I want to get together and then I ACTUALLY DO IT. While texting my friends with a request to get together has always stressed me out and still does (and probably always will), I just do it (though not nearly as much as I want to or should) because I want to see them, instead of laying in my bed crying about how I’m not seeing my friends. I’m still stressed out about work. Actually, I’ve been MORE stressed out about work, considering that I just quit a job that hasn’t paid me in months. I did get cast in a show, and while that always brings its own set of  stress and insecurities, I had a great time doing the show and my confidence level ended up being boosted. Regarding my personal life, I’m still freaking out about it almost as much, but the point is that, in all of this, there’s a marked difference in that I’m actually HANDLING it. There are still days that I’ve been so stressed out that I’ve cried and times when I’ve just wanted to throw in the towel on certain things, and I’ve made some bad decisions in these last two months. But in November, I was self-destructive. I really didn’t care what happened to me. My unhappiness was at dangerous levels. Now, it’s being managed.

It’s unbelievable to me that this change can come about by sitting on a couch belonging to someone who is basically a stranger, crying and laughing and whatevering for fifty minutes a week. It’s still hard, but it was harder in the beginning, when I had to constantly remind myself that refusing to talk or clamming up when things got emotional was not going to help me. I still find myself at points in conversations with my therapist where I want to say, “I’m done for the day,” but instead of not talking, I try to push through it.

I still have a ways to go: Recently, I’ve developed the inability to sleep through the night, only falling asleep “for good” around four or five in the morning; this is not good for a myriad of reasons. And, being the incredibly emotional person that I am, I still take very tiny things very hard and harp on them for days. I still have social anxieties. But I do feel like, now that I’ve seen positive things come of this therapy, I believe in it, and I don’t feel ashamed of myself for going.

And besides being happy that that’s the case, I also realize how lucky I am. While it was ultimately my decision to go to therapy, I let myself get to ’empty’ before making that decision. I had to be scared into going by my own mind, which seemed to be out of my control, and I was also told- not suggested or wheedled with- to go by several caring friends, and my parents, too, have been incredibly supportive. I’m getting teary right now thinking of how lucky I am to have gotten as far as I have. If you’re one of the people who helped me, thank you. I’ll need you down the road, so stick around. I’ll do the same.

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