The first time I went to therapy I was in 18 or 19. My mom wanted me to go with her and talk about our “issues.” I went to make her happy and listened. I was not there willingly thus got not one thing from that visit. I hated every second I was in that office.
Other people that went to therapy. It always seemed like something for the rich to navel gaze thus it was not for me. I did not have the time nor the money.
My return to therapy was not by choice. It was court ordered. Yes, it was ordered by a judge as a condition of my court supervision. I had to attend and complete a therapy program. Why did I have court supervision? I was arrested for shoplifting. Yes, shoplifting. That is another story for another day but it was one of the best/worst things to happen to me.
Once again, I did not want to be there. However, I did not want to go to jail so I took the opportunity to participate and learn. The therapist told me I had anxiety that needed medication which meant another, different doctor in order to get the prescriptions. So, I went, met the new doctor and got the meds. I took the medication but was not sure it was working as I did not like how I was feeling. I was trying to hold it all together and keep everything all a secret from my kids and everyone else. I didn’t know if my anxiety was from keeping the secret, the shame of it all or from something else.
Continued appointments with the therapist led to her diagnosing the source of my anxiety and depression. It was my marriage.
Nope…..I was not talking about that. She did not have to go home and live in my house….I did. Thus, I was not discussing my marriage. I was in serious denial, terrified she would see right through me. Once I completed the program, I stopped taking the meds and going to therapy all together. None of it was working and being called “crazy” at home was making it worse. I went to back to court with certificate of completion and then moved on with my life….or so I thought.
My anxiety did not get better…it got worse. Much worse. I really thought I was going crazy. I was forgetting things and having to write down everything. The panic attacks in stores had only gotten worse. The mere thought of shopping and stores caused me to hyperventilate.
I secretly took a day off work and drove to an inpatient facility. I went though all the intake steps and met with 3 different doctors. I had wanted them to tell me that I was fine and overreacting. That did not happen. All suggested inpatient care. Nope….not happening. I was a mom and had a job. I could not do it. I drove away knowing I really needed help but was not courageous enough to get it…yet. I was so filled with shame and falling deeper into the rabbit hole of denial, shame and depression.
For the next few years, I used running to try to manage my ever growing anxiety and depression. I was literally trying to outrun my mental health issues. After filing for divorce, I was sinking fast. I was really falling apart. My lawyer told me that therapy was a non-negotiable. So I called 4 or 5 different therapists that specialized in divorce and anxiety, leaving messages for each one. Truth be told, I cried while leaving each message. I must have sounded like such a prize! Who wouldn’t want to take me on as a patient?!
One therapist called back. Funny enough, she had also been recommended by a friend. During that call, she talked me off the first ledge and we scheduled an appointment for later in the week.
I started meeting with her bi weekly. Yes, I sat on her couch 2 times a week and just cried most of the time. With her help I started to open up. I was literally coming apart at the seams, falling apart all over her office. I apologized at every appointment. It was a mess. I was a mess.
For each appointment I would show up with my boatload of emotional baggage that she would slowly help me unpack it. It was NOT fun. As a matter of fact, it sucked. I left each appointment feeling like I had run another marathon…just emotionally (instead of physically) worn out. I also left with homework I never wanted to do because it was WORK! However, this time I was ready to really do the work. This time I needed to do the work. My life depended on me doing the work.
I was finally ready to face the source of my anxiety and depression head on. She, just as the therapists before, told me what I had not wanted to hear before……the source of anxiety and depression was my marriage.
I learned the terms narcissism, narcissistic abuse, gaslighting, emotional abuse and how it all took a toll on my mental heath over the years. It is still work to overcome the triggers to regulate my anxiety and depression, but that is why I continue to attend therapy and do the work.
I am a huge advocate of therapy for anyone of any age. It takes time to find the right therapist and you have to be ready to do the work. You have to be ready to own your life and your choices but it is so worth it. Invest the time and energy in yourself and your mental health. You are worth it.