Therapy hasn’t been a big part of my life, because even though I’d love to go to therapy more often, I can’t, solely because of my busy schedules and my therapist’s times that don’t mesh well with mine. (I rarely go these days, like once a month!) Therapy has been, however, a big help and supportive guideline for me.

I knew I needed therapy when I realised that self-help books are great and all, and they may be eye-opening, but the second I would learn something new or find helpful advice, I do the complete opposite of what I was supposed to do to improve and then that helpful advice somehow just vanishes. It’s forgotten, dropped it somewhere in the park. Like a pair of earphones that I misplaced somewhere in the apartment that I’ll never find again. Maybe one day, in two years or something.

I needed something consistent, a helpful hand guiding me and pushing me to stay on that path of improvement instead of self-destruction. I couldn’t do it on my own anymore and was frankly burnt out by my thoughts and doubts. My best friend knew this, and suggested I look for a therapist. Which I did.

I started Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in the winter months of 2016. I was severely depressed and anxious and was pushing my friends away. I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere. I had issues with my father that I had tried to suppress and avoid, rather than face. I was heartbroken by a boy who was uncertain of what he wanted. I felt like I was disappointing my family and friends. I barely ate or looked after myself. I felt numb and isolated myself in my one-room apartment. I came home late without turning the lights on. I cried myself to sleep. I lashed out on my beloved mother and sister, despite them being all-around supportive. I felt like someone else was in my body, or rather, I wasn’t actually there. I was floating, not in a good way. It was scary.

For those who don’t know, I pulled up a little explanation from Psychology Today:

CBT is a form of psychotherapy that treats problems and boosts happiness by modifying dysfunctional emotions, behaviors, and thoughts. CBT focuses on solutions, encouraging patients to challenge distorted cognitions and change destructive patterns of behavior.

CBT rests on the idea that thoughts and perceptions influence behavior. Feeling distressed, in some cases, may distort one’s perception of reality. CBT aims to identify harmful thoughts, assess whether they are an accurate depiction of reality, and if they are not, employ strategies to challenge and overcome them.

The tools deployed in CBT—which include learning to identify and dispute unrealistic or unhelpful thoughts and developing problem-solving skills—have been used to treat a broad range of mental health challenges. CBT is now considered among the most efficacious forms of talk therapy, especially when clients incorporate strategies into their daily life.

I have to be honest and say that I haven’t officially been diagnosed with any “condition” yet that I can mention. I haven’t been to therapy enough and I’ve been going through a lot of changes (in environment etc.) throughout my journey, and so has my mental wellbeing.Let’s just say that I go to therapy to improve myself. I tend to sabotage myself and my relationships with other people and I would like for that to stop. My anxiety and insecurities cloud my head still, most of the time. There are high ups where I feel infinite, and there are really low lows where I don’t want to talk to anyone and just wallow in self-pity. There are days when I feel like the most badass chick on the planet and there are days when I feel like pulling a paper bag over my head for the rest of my life.

Sound familiar? Well, I’ve gotten to know a lot of people who strangely think therapy is solely for the suicidal, depressed, manic, “crazy” people. But it’s also for the silently suffering, the okay-ish people who just want to improve and stop their irrational thinking.

Wherever I am on that spectrum, I’ll figure that out in some time. More underlying problems are harder to solve and I find that I am easily pulled “backwards” onto worse roads, like I’m not taking the advice that I urgently need. But then superficial problems, that seem to be solved more easily, I get better with them step by step. And I think that’s a good first step to take.

Baby steps. Always baby steps.

The most important thing I’ve learnt so far in therapy is that we can’t just tackle this big problem at once and expect it to be gone forever. I have to slowly but steadily tackle smaller problems, identify smaller things steering my mindset and then – step by step – face each obstacle at a time.

Being mindful. 

I rush through life like it’s a race from one anxiety to the next. Being in the moment and really focusing on the Now and embracing the moment while detaching myself from the past and future… it really helps gain some perspective.

Stopping and thinking of a solution before hitting the panic button. 

I tend to hit S.O.S. immediately whenever something bad would happen. Instead, I try to stop and breathe and accept the situation first. It doesn’t always help because I’m quite impulsive and quite a drama queen. But I try!

Actively doing things that make me happy. 

This also means to actively surround myself with people who make me happy. I made a happy list of everything I know will definitely put me in a better mood. And whenever I feel down, I actively force myself to see my Mum, or go read in my favourite coffee shop.

What are some of the most important and amazing things you have learnt in therapy? What are tips you can give to someone with anxiety, low self-esteem, depression? Have you gone to therapy before? Do you recommend it?