I started seeing a therapist recently. It’s my first time to see one, not because I have negative attitudes about it, but I just never felt like I needed it. However, some time before the pandemic hit, I started to feel odd. I started having generalized anxiety and depression, I felt like I was falling apart at the seams, and there was no apparent reason for it. I couldn’t understand why, but I knew that I needed help. It took me another two and a half years of building up my courage to get in touch with a therapist. I consider myself open to the idea of therapy, and yet it took me that long to actually reach out to someone who could help. I can appreciate better now how a lot of people take a lifetime before taking that first step, and how some never do at all. During the course of our sessions, the therapist was asking me probing questions and some of my life traumas inevitably came to light.
I’ve always considered myself a strong and well-grounded person, I am generally open about the abuse I’ve experienced when I was young, but I never really talked about it in detail. Just hearing myself recount the details, and in the context of talking about them with somebody who is trying to understand how she can help me, it helped me realize that I’ve “moved on” from many of these traumatic events by merely leaving them in the past. I survived and that’s all that mattered. I never considered how these events shaped me and how I viewed myself and the world. I never considered how even my perception of how others look at me are still affected by past trauma.
One of the exercises my therapist asked me to do was to create “trauma narratives”, which is essentially processing the traumatic events in a medium that I am most comfortable with. I submitted a Word document. Then I thought that it felt insufficient, so I started a recovery journal about 2 weeks ago. It was a lot to go through, and there were new details that I remembered which I never recalled before. It was very enlightening, to say the least, and it is a lot of work. Work that I’ve put off for decades and are starting to take a toll on me. I gained a lot of insights just by working on a few pages in my recovery journal.
I know it’s going to be a long journey, but even at this early stage, I am starting to feel better and I think have begun to have a healthier understanding of myself. Maybe I can say that I’m starting to see myself a bit more clearly now. I decided to share this in order to encourage others who might be feeling like they need help but they don’t know if they should reach out to a professional or not. I’ve personally encountered evidence of the stigma seeking therapy still has in our culture, many from well-meaning people in my life. A lot of them have convoluted thoughts shaped by religion which only succeeds in nurturing maladaptive behavior to trauma instead of embracing the path that leads to freedom from it.