I recently asked on my instagram (@madisonleonardo_) what YOU guys wanted me to write about this week...so this post is gonna be all about my experience with therapy!
Disclaimer: I am not a licensed or medical professional and I should not be your only source of knowledge for this! This is purely my experience.
So I first started therapy probably around 6 years ago when I was in highschool, but I haven’t exactly been in therapy for a full 6 years! It all started when my teachers, parents, and I began noticing new struggles in school that I had never had before. Elementary school was always pretty “easy” for me but highschool was when we realized something was making life really difficult for me. I had a full psychological assessment done and learned through that assessment that I was dealing with an undiagnosed anxiety disorder and OCD. It was then recommended that I begin weekly talk therapy with a psychologist to help with my anxiety and OCD. I wanted to feel better of course so I tried my best every week to be really present and open minded in therapy. I now realize that as much as that was true, I’m also a huge people pleaser and wasn’t fully opening up in therapy because I wanted the woman to like me! Quite counterproductive but also extremely common. This is something that I’m working on even now in therapy, I have to consciously remind myself not to put on such a happy face and hold back. And let me tell you, it’s a process and a learning curve for us people pleasers.
The type of therapy I was doing with this first psychologist is called CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and it sounds really serious but it’s actually the most commonly used kind! It is focused on the relation between our thoughts and feelings, and how we can learn to restructure our negative thoughts. A big part of CBT is building your toolbox of positive skills and coping mechanisms that you can put to use on your own. Because I did this kind of therapy years ago and did it for a couple of years..I now have a very full and very useful collection of tools that I know work well for me and that I’ve been practicing for some time. After a few years of that, I was moving away for university, my issues became a bit more manageable and honestly the therapy got very very expensive, so I stopped.
So my first 2 years of university (when I REALLY needed it) I wasn’t in therapy. I obviously managed to get through it but it was really hard and I don’t intend to ever go without it again. Some people might think that’s super negative because they figure “you think you’ll never be okay enough without it?” and that’s just not the case. Therapy is also for maintenance of good mental health, not just for bad mental health, so even when I’m feeling really good, I make sure to continue at least bi-weekly. Therapy is also for self-reflection and self-improvement!! You don’t have to struggle with mental health to go to therapy, it’s such a positive resource for anyone and everyone.
I found my current therapist just a few months ago and i’m SO glad I started it again because I had no idea how much I really need it in my life! I look forward to having that one day a week to just release everything in a safe space and work on myself. Therapy helps me remain in control of my life, it helps me to be the best version of myself, it helps me to recognize toxic habits, behaviours, and people. Some weeks I’m doing really well and don’t have anything negative to talk about but somehow we still use up the full hour, because whether it’s positive or negative, it’s all about self-improvement.
I was super hesitant about re-starting therapy with someone new because you usually have to dedicate the first few sessions to introductory content such as your history, background, childhood, family, lifestyle, etc. I find myself often frustrated with this process because I feel like I’ve disclosed all that information to so many doctors, psychiatrists, and therapists, but it’s so important. It’s so important for your therapist to really understand your roots and everything you’re working with, but it can often be a difficult or uncomfortable process...and that’s okay!!
I love therapy and I believe everyone should experience it. The issue is that it’s not affordable/accessible to everyone (find resources at the end of this post). Starting therapy can feel like a really big step for most people, it can feel uncomfortable and weird and even scary...but these are all good signs. I call them mental growing pains! Like when you were little and you had growing pains in your legs but it was also a good thing cause you knew it meant you were growing. Ya, same thing...it’s hard but also good because you’re growing! If therapy is something you decide to do, you HAVE to remain open-minded and be really honest with your therapist, which can be hard. All in all, I highly recommend it and it’s definitely the most prominent factor in how I keep my mental health under control.
Thanks for reading...find some useful resources below if you might need em!
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I'm Maddi and Im a full time student (studying Child and Youth Work), and a self proclaimed content creator. Here I have my blog and my shop, I hope you enjoy!