This post is part of our #TherapyHelpedMe series for Mental Health Awareness Month. Talkspace shares stories of how therapy helps people of all backgrounds work through the daily challenges of modern life.
Teenage years can be some of the most difficult and stressful times of our lives. With exam deadlines and social pressures, it can leave many of us struggling to focus and see a life outside of the school halls. There are many who are made for education, flying through their school years with ease, but for some of us, our mental health can be compromised.
I found myself often confused and unable to make decisions. I was always worrying about rejection and causing problems. Stress was consuming me. Although I had friends, a boyfriend, and a family, I still could not tell them the truth, or at least not the full truth. Choosing to begin therapy was the first time I had put myself first in a long time. The term “it feels like a weight has been lifted” really resonates with me.
I was 16 years old when I first started therapy. I had been struggling with depression and anxiety for a very long time and struggled to let out my emotions in a healthy way. When I fell into substance abuse, my parents worked with my school to find me some help. One day a week, I would get a free “get out of jail free” pass from lessons and would make my way to this almost secret room to meet my therapist.
I remember how nice it felt to find privacy away from the prying ears of those I knew. The ability to be totally honest, and know that what we discussed would not leave these four walls, allowed me to breathe for the first time. Letting out your feelings, all those hidden thoughts and bricks that you have been lugging around for months, or even years, feels better than any other endorphin releasing activity.
It can be awkward to share your feelings with a stranger. There were worries that what I disclosed may come out as rude, nasty or even lead the therapist to report me as a danger to myself. However, the therapist was very good at breaking the ice each session and when I started to talk, I couldn’t stop. It was like a blocked pipe being released and drained — it needs to be looked after to function. I cannot explain how good it felt just to let myself rant and not stop my “verbal diarrhoea” — almost like using the loo after holding in a wee for hours, a release that just leaves you feeling relaxed and detoxed.
As time went on, I found myself more comfortable talking about what was going on in my mind. I learnt that I was not a problem, that my thoughts were valid, and I had every right to feel the way I did. It is so strange to hear these words but when someone reminds you that “it’s ok not to be ok,” it jogs you back into reality, and makes you think differently.
Why Therapy is Important
I am now back in therapy after putting it on hold for many years, but I am excited. I’ve only had a few sessions so far, and already I feel so much more refreshed and in control of my own body. It’s easier to fight a battle when you have someone to stand by your side. Talking is the first step and the key to defeating those demons that reside in your mind.
Therapy has not necessarily helped me with one particular issue that I have, it has generally helped me manage and cope with my thoughts and feelings. I feel so much more human, and I am truly grateful that I have access to therapy. I always recommend it to anyone. Sometimes we just need to vent so we can learn more about ourselves.
Therapy has been so important to my recovery. It has given me an outlet for my feelings, and its brief lessons help me unlock parts of myself that I have repressed. It’s exhausting and it’s hard, but I now know myself better than ever. I understand who I am and why my mind does what it does. Therapy is like a friend you can rely on, at least it has been to me.
Charlotte Underwood is a 22 year old from Norfolk, UK. She’s a mental health advocate and writer, with a passion to help those in need and create a stigma free world.