Saturday (12/9) marked the 1-year anniversary of my first appointment with my therapist. I’ve been reflecting on this past year quite a bit lately, and I want to write out some of the thoughts I’ve been having.
I used to be extraordinarily averse to seeking treatment for my depression, anxiety, and PTSD. I saw it as a major weakness. How could a “normal” person need such a thing?
After my trauma, I did see a counselor at Georgia Tech, but my experience with her was less than desirable. She was judgmental of my disabilities and didn’t seem to possess an ounce of empathy for others. I saw a psychiatrist there who gave me my diagnoses and then pumped me full of Prozac until the side effect of increased suicidal thoughts led me to overdose for the first time in 2015.
My second therapist was a man who only nodded and asked, “How do you feel about that?” I’m not even kidding. That was it. He was straight out of the movies. My stint with him lasted about four sessions before I called it quits.
After all that, I gave up. I absolutely tossed self-care out the window. I leaned on my friends too much, threatened suicide almost every night, spent my free time wallowing in my dorm alone, and refused to look for other ways of coping.
It wasn’t until a particularly sour string of nights that a well-connected adult friend of mine texted me, “You have an appointment with a therapist tomorrow. You have to go.” She had called in a favor with one of her psychiatrist friends at a well-to-do therapy/psychiatry group in Buckhead and gotten me an emergency appointment.
At first, I was angry because the appointment (I kid you not) cost $400. Then, I was simply curious. Who would I be seeing? Would I like them? Would they like me?
I walked into that office without the faintest idea of what to expect. The therapist who saw me asked probably a hundred questions about my psychosocial history. It was a very long, arduous appointment. Yet, I left feeling protected in a new way. I had my hearing at Georgia Tech that week, and I felt like I had somebody new in my corner to help me recover from it. The therapist called me the day after my hearing, and that was when I knew I had made a positive connection.
It’s been a year now, and I appreciate my therapist more and more every single day.
Once a week, I make the trek to Buckhead to bleed emotion for an hour. It’s cathartic, joyful, heavy, meaningful, and hopeful all at the same time. Sometimes, it brings me down, and other times, it lifts me up higher than I ever thought possible. It’s incredibly important to me. Therapy is the one commitment I refuse to miss.
My therapist and I are a team, and a great one at that. With her help, I have grown to recognize when things are getting rough and then promptly take care of the problem instead of wallowing in it. I’ve learned to see the brighter sides of myself instead of fixating on the negatives. I’ve made huge strides in my concentration, willpower, and ability to maintain relationships. I’m a completely different person than who I was a year ago, and happily so.
I’m a work in progress. Don’t get me wrong. A lot still needs to change. I was hospitalized recently, though I walked right into that one instead of being hauled in by an ambulance, which is progress. I still forget about or discard self-care sometimes when things are getting too hard. I also have some priorities I still need to sort out before I get to grad school.
That said, I am twenty times better off than I was a year ago, and I can, in part, thank my therapist for that. I’m actually looking forward to Christmas break instead of dreading it because I have confidence in my ability to sit with myself and appreciate free time. Things are on the upswing.
Something else that has taken a major turn since I began therapeutic treatment is my career path. I previously wanted to become a filmmaker… or a writer… or a teacher… or whatever idea popped into my head at any given moment. Now, I am so inspired by my therapist’s work that I have decided to become a therapist myself. I’ve applied to grad school already and everything. My course is set, and I couldn’t be more excited.
This year has been quite the journey. I know that I won’t be with this therapist forever, but I’m going to continue to cherish the time we do have while we have it. Therapy has saved my life, and I’m so blessed.
So, to my therapist, though I know you’ll never read this, thank you so much for everything you’ve done for me. You’ve gone above and beyond this past year, and I’m still on this earth because of it. Keep being awesome.