Thursday, October 9, 2008

How did you know you needed therapy?

Somebody asked me that at Enrichment the other night. We were all sitting there tying quilts for Project Linus and she asked me, "How did you know you needed therapy?"

I gave her a loooong answer about how I'd been on and off medication since the birth of my first child and that I really am a bit crazy (even though my therapist tells me not to use that word in reference to myself). When I finally stopped talking I wasn't sure I had given her the right answer. I've been mulling it over and I'm still not sure I've figured it out, but I want to give another try.

I recently went back to therapy. I don't usually cry when I'm there--I don't cry easily (weird for a depressed person, huh?)--but my first time back I cried because I was weary. I kept saying, "I can't believe this is my life! What if it never changes? What if I'm stuck like this?" After compassionately telling me to "just let it all out", which made me smile because that's so therapist-y, she also reminded me that there are always going to be ups and downs but that I also always have choices. There is always something I can do to change my circumstances and my feelings. It was nice to hear someone say that out loud.

I know that I need to go to therapy because I can't handle this illness on my own. It is so overwhelming that I need a reality check. I need someone who is outside all of it and has heard it all before, someone who can see the way out of the depressed maze me and my illness have created. And I need someone to help me replace all the bad habits that I've adopted to deal with stuff of depression. I need someone to help me change the script in my brain so that it doesn't keep going down the same dysfunctional pathways. I go to therapy because I need help. I need to not be alone.

So how 'bout you? Why do you go to therapy? Or, if you don't, why do you wish you could?


The Miz said...

I first went to therapy . . . uh . . . let's say it was state ordered therapy and leave it at that. Now I wish I could because it would be nice to have someone listen and understand me. Not to mention it would be a nice way to get a break from the kids every now and then. ;)

Laura said...

the miz--I sometimes wonder if part of the benefit of therapy is enough time away from my little ones to put a coherent thought together!

Strong and determined said...

I went to therapy to finally put the pieces of my past together, so that my past no longer controlled my present...and my future. My 'couch surfing' experience has been, painful, frustrating, scary, validating, peaceful, and necessary.

Elizabeth-W said...

I suppose my commenting is a lot like me going to the plastic surgeon and asking if I could use a little botox--it's not like he'd ever say "no".
With that context, I think if you're taking an antidepressant or antianxiety med, you could benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The research is clear that relapse is significantly less for those who engage in therapy vs people who do meds alone. What your therapist said, about ALWAYS having choices is pretty central to CBT.

Imagine trying to read a book with your nose a centimeter from the page. You can't do it. It's only when you move away from the book that you can focus. Therapy is getting some distance, some objectivity. When you're in the muck, it's hard to see clearly all that is going on.
I went to therapy when I was in college. I had some anxiety stuff going on, and I knew I needed someone to help me get it dealt with, someone who would 'make' me learn to deal with them more effectively.