My Journey Back to Therapy
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”-Maya Angelou
One random Tuesday in September of 2014, I was heading to work in downtown Boston. The weather was warm and it was sunny outside. I commuted to the city by train and then had a 20 minute walk from the station to work. At the time, I was working as a Compliance Officer for the state, where I would analyze company performance and financial standing. It was a typical day at work. I was sitting at my desk plugging away, when I suddenly began to think of these random worrisome thoughts. I started thinking about my health, my life, my career, my family. I remember thinking, “where is my life going? What am I doing with my career? What if I got sick and died young? What if I lost my family, what would I do?” I had no basis for these thoughts, but I just started worrying about anything and everything that came to mind. I was spiraling and I thought to myself, “I need to get out of here.” I sent an email out to my office saying I was sick and needed to go home. I went home curled up in bed and felt lifeless and depressed. I called out the next day too, and I couldn’t shake this feeling of pure dread, like I was expecting something to go wrong in my life.
This would happen several times again over the course of a few months. First it started happening every other month, then every month, then every other week. I was working full time, going to school full time, while maintaining my life at home with my (now) husband and stepson. I thought to myself, “I need to do something, I am tired of feeling this way” and thus, came to the realization that I needed to get help and go back to therapy.
Flashback to 2006
Flashback to 2006: I was a junior in high school suffering with depression and hating my life at home. At this point my dad was remarried again, and I was on my second stepmom. I had three additional step-siblings now living in my house who I barely knew, none of whom I related to at all. I somehow managed to get into myself into therapy. I went for a few months, but never felt comfortable speaking candidly. I even tried a different therapist and still felt the same way. I would eventually learn to suppress my feelings, and bury them deep down inside of me, so I could start lying to myself, believing everything was fine. This would last for 8 years, until everything came rushing back.
Back to 2014
Going back to 2014: I decided this time with therapy I was going to do it right. I was an adult and I could pick whomever I wanted, and I was going to be specific in what I was looking for. I needed someone who specialized in anxiety and depression. The two therapists I had seen in the past were counselors who saw various individuals, and may not have been the right fit for an angry and depressed teen. This time around, I was in control, and was going to make sure I chose the right person. I called a few different people, and received a call back from the person who would become “my therapist.”
Dr A., (as I will refer to him) had all the credentials I was looking for; he graduated from two top Ivy League schools and specialized in trauma, anxiety and depression (I’m sold). We spoke briefly over the phone about why I was looking to get back into therapy, and I told him about my panic attacks, that I had past trauma, and that it was now disrupting my life. My first session was like a waterfall of words. I somehow managed to briefly describe 26 years in under an hour. It felt so good, like I was freeing myself. I went back that same week for a second session. I spoke about my mother’s alcoholism, my dad’s multiple marriages, the feeling that I was looked down upon by extended family members, my life with a man who has been married before, and life as a stepmother. I spoke about how scared I was to lose everything in my life that made me happy.
It has been 5 years since I started therapy up again and I no longer have panic attacks. My therapist doesn’t just listen and take notes. He helps me re-shape the way I think about things, how to calm my mind, and work through my complicated past. I went from twice a week, to once a week, and eventually down to twice a month. I look forward to each and every session. There isn’t anything I won’t discuss and it is truly liberating.
My personal feeling about therapy is that it can be for everyone, and because it has been so highly stigmatized, I decided to share my journey back into it. I hope this post helps anyone who has been thinking about going or is looking into it for their child, spouse, etc. If you have tried it in the past and stopped because you were not happy with who you were seeing, I encourage you to try again with a new person. No two therapists are the same and sometimes it takes seeing a few before you find the right person that fits your needs.