My toes are twitching, my legs are bouncing, and I’m unsuccessfully attempting to distract myself with a book. I can feel the tears building up. My chest is heavy with so much stress, guilt, pain, and fear. I both look forward to and dread hearing my name called and walking to the room in the back.
Where am I? Therapy. And I am exactly where I need to be. Therapy is saving my life, one session at a time.
You see, I have a pattern of behavior and thinking. I spend weeks and months feeling positive and happy. Even if there are difficult moments, I can remain this way. I can power through anything and manage my panic disorder with relative ease. I think that I am fine.
But it never fails to amaze me how easily the anxiety and depression can and do return.
I tend to put my mental health last on the priority list. There are always more important things to do and worry about. The kids’ needs come first. I have a house and family to provide and care for. I have commitments, obligations, work, errands, practices, games . . . when can I fit in the time for some self-care? Why am I allowed to take time to see a professional to work on my issues when there are so many other things demanding my time and attention?
Yet when my mental health is at its worst, I cannot do any of the things above with success.
In the middle of a panic attack, I can barely breathe, let alone parent. When I’m so anxious that I am terrified to leave my house, those obligations and practices and appointments are missed. If my depression makes me cry all day, I am unable to be wholly present for my family. My mind and body are both suffering; I’m not well. And by ignoring all these symptoms and signs, I am only making it worse.
When we are sick, we go to a doctor; when my mental health is suffering, I should and need to go to therapy.
It is daunting and a bit scary. I am not used to talking all about myself; I do not love the vulnerability and brutal honesty required for successful therapy. I hate the obligation of it, whether I attend appointments weekly, monthly, or even once a year. I can think of a million others things I could be doing with my time.
But you know what? It works. IT ALWAYS WORKS.
It is not instantaneous. As the phrase goes: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time, mountains of effort, tears, and vigilance. But without it, where would I be? My mental health would be worse, and my life would suffer. I cannot always find a way out of the darkness and hopelessness on my own. In order to be a better woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend—I need therapy. I need the tools and help from my wonderful mental health professionals and doctors to guide me and maintain me. Without it, I may not even be here to write these words.
My guilt about therapy is my issue. Because therapy is saving my life, and anything that can do that is important.
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