Why everyone should see a therapist
“Don’t send me a nude - show me an invoice from your therapy appointment so I know you’re working on yourself.”
This is one of my favourite memes floating around on the internet, because it was SO me, walking out of my first session with a therapist I finally clicked with. For me, finding someone who worked well with me was a case of ‘third times a charm’, and the journey went a little something like this:
- First attempt: a university therapist, provided for free. Felt totally clunky and awkward, but did leave me with a useful metaphor for explaining why I was randomly bursting into tears. “You need to imagine your feelings like a bucket – if you don’t empty them from time to time, (ie: process them), your bucket gets full and will overflow.” They probably didn’t mean for me to internalise this as an 18 year old and decide “Fk it, I’m going to turn that bucket into a swimming pool.” Suddenly instead of drowning I was only ankle deep in water, and fine to continue on. That was my first and only session with uni therapist.
- Second attempt: Oops. Four years later, my swimming pool had somehow filled up. On top of the swirling dramas of every day life, I had a really confronting experience where I came home to my housemates boyfriend, who had overdosed in our sharehouse while everyone was at work. Theres lots more to the story as you can imagine, but out of respect for those involved I wont go into details. This event was big enough for me to think ‘Hold up, this emotion is definitely going somewhere… I should find some help.” I really wasn’t coping, and so when I went to seek help I found myself in the office of a psychiatrist, which was scary for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I didn’t like the idea of taking drugs to deal with my out of order mental state – I was sure it was more ‘organic’ a problem than chemical. (I know this is a total misunderstanding of certain mental conditions now, but this is just how I was thinking at the time), and the second issue was thus – HE WAS HOT. And looked kind of young? There’s no way I could work with an attractive male therapist in my dating age bracket. No no no.
- Third times a charm: A close friend of mine was studying psychology herself, and had picked up part time work at this beautiful boutique studio in the inner west. She was raving about a therapist who worked there one day, describing her as ‘incredible’ and ‘so smart.’ I was in desperate need of support at the time, so I jumped into an appointment with her – despite the increased price tag. She was, as described, incredible – and I have been seeing her ever since.
As you can see, I’ve had a mixed experience, so I can relate when people tell me they don’t like therapy or they find it a frustrating waste of time. Last week, I was driving with a friend down Bondi road. I hadn’t seen her in about 6 weeks or so, and we were just catching up. Since I started seeing a therapist fairly regularly around 3 years ago, I’ve become a bit more vocal about how necessary these kinds of support networks are, and how much I have benefitted from it. Although it took some time and energy to find a therapist I clicked with, once I had found the right fit for me, I remember walking out of the sessions mindblown just thinking ‘wow, EVERYONE MUST DO THIS!’ its almost like, you don’t know what you don’t know – and if you aren’t willing to take a little dive into your own mind, it can be really surprising what is waiting for you when you do.
Especially living in Sydney, when our attention is so in demand, and the fast-paced lifestyle, social media use, compulsive socialisation and general go go go of the city can keep us all a little distracted from ‘alone time with self.’
I’ve had such a great experience (albeit, challenging, emotional, confronting and all the fun painful things often associated with growth), so I was surprised when my friend told me that she was cancelling her therapist appointments indefinitely.
“I’d rather spend the $250.00 on a dress, or a bag.” She told me. “I mean really…” she continued, “Do you even think they “work”? I sit there and I just need her to TELL ME WHATS WRONG WITH ME?! Otherwise, what’s the point?!” I kind of laughed it off and agreed with her – “Yeah, if you don’t feel like you’re getting much out of it…”
It got me thinking though. And really, I so don’t think ‘whats wrong with you’, is the point. Its kind of like exercising, eating healthily to manage your weight, or brushing your teeth: prevention is easier than cure. A proactive approach to therapy can make a big difference to your unconscious patterns, and general life trajectory.
If you’ve been thinking about it, just do it. Google local therapists, talk to your friends who already seek help. If you’re curious about my personal experience, feel free to reach out. Here’s three things I want to share:
- You don’t have to be a train wreck to seek support. It can be preventative. Taking a proactive approach to ensuring continued good mental health is one of the best investments you can make in your future, and you may find a safe space to uncover some feelings and patterns you’ve been repressing.
- Although it can sound expensive at first (especially the good ones), Australia has made mental health support so accessible – a trip to your GP will see you cover most if not all of the costs of a session under a mental health care plan.
- Get organised, and start building the rest of your self care toolbox. There are so many little things we do to look after our bodies: Gyms, dentists, hairdressers, massages. It’s really important to look after your mind and mental wellbeing, because it determines your trajectory into the future.
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