It just continues to surprise me.
I started my therapy sessions on the 1st of July and I’ve had a session every week since then.
In my previous experiences with therapy, I would either go to therapy every other week, then at least once a month. And overall, it would last 2-3 months.
There has been a big difference between my three experiences of therapy.
My first therapy experience was when I was 21. Fresh out of a breakup, I went to therapy after falling into a deep depression. With it being my first experience, I didn’t have any knowledge of: depression, anxiety or therapy. I don’t know what I wanted to accomplish in therapy and I didn’t think of any specific goals.
After my therapist immediately diagnosed me with Major Depressive Disorder. I also began seeing a psychiatrist and was prescribed antidepressants. It was overwhelming. The world of mental health was new to me and then being hit with therapy appointments/psychiatrist appointments weekly and taking medicine daily was too much for me. Since I didn’t have the knowledge of mental health and understanding my own struggles, I thought it was normal for my therapist to give me “advice” like friends and family do. “Oh you just need to stop thinking about it”. My psychiatrist was more understanding of my feelings, but the medication that I was prescribed made me physically feel worse.
After having two different types of appointments weekly and getting a prescription, it took a toll on me financially. During that time, I was working less because I was going to school. And then it was December and I was struggling financially. I was going to community college and I had to register and PAY for my classes for the next semester. I was buying Christmas presents. Also, I was going to the Philippines for 3 weeks, which meant not working for 3 weeks. So I made the decision to stop going to therapy because I couldn’t afford it anymore. PLUS why pay for someone to tell me to “stop thinking about it”, when I get it for free from family and friends.
My second experience with therapy was last year, before I turned 30. I was stuck in the phase of working with one job and waiting for my new job. Which took 6 months. I had a lot of anxiety and frustration with my previous job. And I began having anxiety which was something that I didn’t know how to cope with.
I decided to start trying therapy again. It was very difficult during that time to find a therapist that either had: online/evening/weekend sessions. Also, trying to find a therapist that took my insurance. So after months of searching, I was finally able to find ONE. That therapist worked with children as well. So a majority of our sessions, I was talking about work and the behavior of some students that I had. Our sessions felt like I was venting to a friend. Which was kinda nice, because I didn’t really have anyone to talk to. However, I felt like I wasn’t able to find coping mechanisms for my anxiety and panic attacks.
Then I finally got the call that I was going to start the new (aka my current job). Additionally, I was in between health insurances with one ending and waiting for the new one to process. These therapy sessions was way more than I could afford. After going every other week, I had to go every 3 weeks. When I was in between health insurance, the therapist didn’t accept my new one. And gave me a “discounted rate” which was still way over my budget. So I had to end therapy sessions with her too.
Then 2020 happened….
What a f*cking year. And it’s only October.
After all the stress that occurred since COVID began, I decided that I NEED to go back to therapy. I began looking in June. The only good thing about COVID is that more therapists had flexible appointments and had a great affordable rate.
The one thing that kept me from going to therapy was the cost. With the past experiences of not being able to afford it, it pushed me away. But with all the sh*t that I went through at the beginning of the pandemic, I prioritized my mental health and included it in my financial plans.
After those past experiences, I knew exactly what I wanted to accomplish in therapy. I wanted to have someone to talk to with experiences that I haven’t shared with anyone else such as: dating apps, the end of a friendship, being isolated from family members, and more.
From my first session with my therapist, I could tell immediately that she was listening to me. She wasn’t judging me and made sure to let me know that my feelings were valid. Which was an amazing feeling.
In our first month of sessions, I talked about all the stress and anxiety that I was feeling with work and my one student with challenging behaviors. She was able to listen to me. We dug down deep into my feelings and find out the reason why I’m feeling those ways. With the situation at work, I talked about my one student a lot and how it was affecting me. And we talked about how I was letting that one student determine my self-worth.
This therapy experience is different because we don’t just talk about situations and feelings, we find out the reasons why I have those feelings. I’ve never shared those deep feelings with anyone before. And it’s the first time where I feel mentally exhausted after therapy. I spend an hour after my sessions just laying on my bed because I’m so tired. She incorporates my self-care practices into what we talk about during therapy. Since I journal and keep track of habits, symptoms, etc. I began journaling more about my thoughts and feelings.
I don’t think I would have survived these past couple of months if I didn’t have therapy. And I am so thankful that I am able to afford to go to therapy every week. We’ve gotten to a point where I stopped talking about my struggles at work and started to talk about topics that I haven’t been able to share before. And some weeks, we talk about coping mechanisms.
Even though, it’s been a rough year. I am glad that I made my mental health a priority and am able to get the help that I need.