Therapy is the best decision I made in 2017, aside from starting my blog.
I started therapy in March. I originally thought it was going to help get me through my breakup, but there were some unaddressed issues hidden deep in my psyche that were beginning to manifest and pop up on me in my vulnerable state.
Going into therapy, I already knew I had some form of anxiety. A week or two before making the call to sign up, I had the largest panic/anxiety attack of my life. I was on the floor, in a ball, crying. I couldn’t breathe. Initially, the attack was caused by the breakup and then, in true Jamilah, fashion, it persisted because I was freaking out about not being able to calm myself down. In smaller panic or anxiety attacks, I usually tense up, my heart races and I zone out or even blackout (in the sense that I am no longer aware of where I am).
I’ve had attacks like this since my sophomore year of college. I tried therapy before but stopped going because the attacks became less frequent and I thought, “problem solved.” Clearly, the problem was not solved.
So here I am. I walked into my first session thinking I was going to unload everything about my breakup and walk away feeling fine.
We talked in depth about the relationship. My therapist (bonus points to her because she’s a black woman who understands things a lot better) asked me why I stayed for so long and ignored obvious red flags. I honestly didn’t have an answer and it made me question a lot of things about myself. She could see I was confused so she moved on to my past and family history.
Turns out, I’ve had anxiety all my life and some of my family might have it too. I also enable behavior that is toxic to me (i.e lying, manipulation, general mistreatment). AND…I’m trash at communication, which is odd because my degree is in communication and I communicate with people for a living!
Sis read me my Miranda Rights all in the first session. She made me realize that my coping mechanism is scrolling through social media and deflection (can't you tell by the excessive use of gifs)! I really thought I was going to walk in sad and walk away cured. That was not the case.
I’ve been consistently going to sessions since then and it’s challenging as f*ck! My idea of therapy was me talking about how I’m feeling and my therapist sitting across from me just listening. Well, that ain’t the case. I usually come in and give her a synopsis of what’s going on in my life and then the rest of the time is spent going through each situation to help me identify triggers, work through conversations or coping tools for stress. I usually leave sessions exhausted from all the unpacking and challenging of negative thoughts.
Therapy has taught me that ignoring the anxiety isn’t the answer. I can’t wish away my anxiety no matter how badly I want it to disappear. Instead, recognizing that my brain operates a little differently goes a long way when I’m feeling anxious. Accepting the feeling and then recognizing what is causing it has helped cut down on the time it takes to calm down.
I think a lot of us deny what’s going on internally because we don’t want to seem weak or vulnerable, but I think the stigma surrounding that is changing. Once I began talking about my therapy journey, I realized just how many people were going through the same thing.
I still have my days where anxiety gets the best of me and I have to take a step back from life, but for the most part, I’m not afraid to talk about it anymore. This is something I don’t have to go through alone and in talking about it with my family and friends I’ve found healing. I’ve strengthened relationships and began to build new ones the RIGHT way!
Therapy isn’t what I expected at all, but it’s everything I need! I think so many of us assume therapy is a quick fix, but it’s far from that. My anxiety is never going away. It’s a fact that I’ve had to come to terms with. Although anxiety can’t be cured, it can be managed and that’s what therapy is for. Therapy isn’t like going to the doctor to get medicine for the common cold. Therapy gives you the tools to help you not be consumed by whatever is affecting you mentally. It’s all about rewiring the way you think and blocking negative thoughts that try to control you. There is no end goal for therapy. The goal is to make every day better than the last. I’m proud to say that since I’ve started, I’ve been a happier and healthier me!
The Nomadic Blogger is The Blog About Nothing. Created on the idea of networking and promotion through sisterhood, The Nomadic Blogger makes her home on the platforms of other established bloggers. Through guest blogging, The Nomadic Blogger hopes to spread her world views and messages while bringing attention to her #SisterBloggers. Follow #TheNomadicBlogger's journey on Facebook and Instagram.