It’s been almost a year since I stopped going to therapy. The fact that that much time has already passed, shocked me to my core yesterday when I realised it. Which is funny because I think of it often and then for weeks I don’t think of it at all. Most of all I’m surprised I’ve been able to survive this long without it.
Seven years ago I started therapy for the first time and I was terrified. I had made my peace with going into therapy a long time before that, especially once I had decided to embark on becoming a therapist myself, but I was completely clueless about what it would involve. Would I need to talk for the whole hour? Would my repressed feelings of shame and anger finally burst forth and destroy me? Would I have to look my therapist in the eye?
All of my questions were eventually answered and none of my worst fears came true. Suddenly it was five years later and therapy was second nature to me; both giving and receiving it. I could happily see myself remaining in therapy for what was then the foreseeable future. That was two years ago.
Moving into my sixth year of therapy, everything seemed to change. I was questioning my career prospects as a therapist, I was writing more and giving into the creativity I had been afraid of for so long, and the long term impacts of being a trauma therapist were resulting in cracks in my persona.
And therapy did help me through these difficulties, but it also shone a light on an alternative path; one where I didn’t need to be in therapy anymore.
Once it ended, I felt good, whole and ready to face stuff, and although life still had the ability to knock me down, the lessons I had learnt from therapy helped me get back up again.
But somehow, remembering that it had been 12 months since I had given someone permission to shrink my head, felt like a rude awakening. It was as if the time I was supposed to spend easing myself out of the mind set of being in therapy had been stolen from me and instead had run at its own pace. Which is typical of time really, isn’t it?
I miss therapy for sure, but I no longer feel desperate for it. If I’m honest, I have been missing it more than usual of late. Life has moved on, I am more comfortable with my decision not to continue being a therapist, but the alternative career line I left it for, the creative one, is being pushed aside again, and I am desperately trying to stop that from happening.
If I was in therapy now, would this problem be solved? Well, I don’t know. But I do know that it would take some time to work through, which isn’t that different to what I’m doing now, without therapy. Still though, it always allowed me the time to process and think through conundrums, providing a space which often seems to escape me in everyday life.
It also taught me some other things, like how to remove the word “can’t” from my vocabulary, how to take better care of my mental health, and how to question the kind of person I am and what I would like to become. It was like a friendly conscience on my shoulder, helping me to help steer myself in the right direction, or the direction that was most appropriate at the time.
So why don’t I go back? I ask myself this regularly too. The answer is that I know there’s more I need to learn on my own, and one of the best ways I can do that is by using what I have learnt from my six years in therapy.
For anyone going through a hard time who has never tried it, I highly recommend therapy. For me, I know that it’s something I can go back to anytime I want, and even if I never go back to it, knowing that it’s there still brings me comfort.
Image credit: psychotherapy by Olena Panasovska from the Noun Project