My guide to surviving therapy

The idea of telling a random person how you feel can be scary and daunting. But as research tells us, it works. Therapy is something I would advice anyone struggling to try, it helps you to understand your own emotions, it helps to release trauma, and it teaches you coping strategies for life.

I have studied therapy in the past, I’ve supported people who are having therapy and most importantly I’ve experienced it myself, so I know exactly what journey you are taken on.

It’s a tough journey and often feels like you have taken steps back. You work so hard to be brave enough to start the process and when it’s here it feels like things are worse. But I can assure you that this is all part of the process. Remember…having a splinter isn’t painful, its getting it out that’s painful.

Mental health and trauma is a funny thing (not literally funny). It makes us believe that we need it to survive, and that letting it all out will make things worse. But your mind is wrong, let go of this disorder/trauma that is holding you down.

I wanted to create a little survival guide for those starting their therapy journey. I hope this can help and support you on this tough but wonderfully, liberating rollercoaster.

1). Remember there’s never a good time to start therapy- If you’re like me, you put things like therapy off until it ‘feels right’. You’re too busy with work, you’re having a good day or you have a holiday planned and don’t need the stress right now. If your mindset is like this I can assure you you will never get to therapy, because there’s always something going on in our lives and there always will be. But you have to make the decision that today IS the day no matter what. Take the plunge and do it for YOU. You can’t help everyone else until you help yourself first.

2). You ARE worthy of therapy no matter what- One of the biggest put offs for me is always thinking I’m not ‘ill enough’ for therapy. I look okay, I work 9-5, I exercise and I eat. Surely there’s worse off people than me, I’m surviving so that will be enough. NO. Mental health affects us all in different ways. If it is affecting you just the slightest bit, you still deserve help. When we get a papercut we still put a plaster on. Also. Things grow. Trauma that is left untreated can turn into much more than a ‘paper cut’, so heal it before it gets too far. There are no requirements for therapy, no problem is too big or too small and you deserve to feel free.

3). When you do decide to start your journey, let someone know- This could be a family member, a friend or a work colleague. You will need support on this journey, even if its just a hug now and again. If you don’t know who to turn to, remember the Love Your Mind contact box is always open.

4). Be patient- Unfortunately the current mental health system is struggling. People are struggling more than ever and processes are taking a lot longer than usual. This doesn’t mean people have forgot about you. You WILL get the help you need, but please remain patient and try not to become too disheartened when hurdles arrive. People want to help you and you will get the help you need, it may just take a little longer than usual. In the mean time try to stay hopeful, keep reading my blogs, practice self love and try things that make you feel good like meditation, exercise and setting goals.

5). Take extra care of yourself before and after sessions- If you’ve had therapy yourself, you’ll know the emotional toll it can take on you, especially straight after a session. You may have opened some drawers in your brain you didn’t know existed, you may have opened up about something you’ve been keeping inside. That’s tough and you need to remember that you HAVE to take extra care of yourself. Try to plan therapy sessions for after work, this way you can take the rest of the day to relax. Try not to make any plans, just relax and try not be alone if possible.

6). Immerse yourself in everything- The more engaged you are, the more you will get out of therapy. Be honest. Carry out any homework given and keep on track. The more hard work you put into therapy, the more benefits you will get from it.

7). Enjoy the journey- It’s a tough journey but try to embrace the ups and downs. There will be times’ when you want to give up, times you feel relived and times when it seems too hard. But this is all part of the journey, and I can assure you, the end destination is worth it.

8). Give yourself a break- Like I said therapy can be tough, emotional, confusing and uplifting all at the same time. Just give yourself a break whilst you embark on this journey. If you need more sleep, that’s okay, if you need to take work a bit easier, do it, if you need more chill days, just give in. Look after yourself because your brain is going through a big change right now, but the it’s all good change.

9). Remember therapy is a jigsaw- There’s many different types of therapy…CBT, talking, ERP. Each one different, depending on the individual and what they need. If one kind of therapy isn’t for you, find a new one.. Find which works best for you, and remember that everyone is different. This is your journey and no one else’s.

10). Fight those demons harder than ever before- Like I said, mental disorders make us believe they are good. They make us feel like we are wrong and weak without them. Mine have always said ‘The therapist will just think you’re crazy’. Or ‘You’re not ill enough for this, how selfish’. At the beginning of therapy, these demons will most likely get worse. But this is part of it all. They will keep fighting for oxygen and room within your brain. Remember the therapist is the good, the freedom and the truth. Let those demons go, no matter how badly they want to stay.

11). NOT ALL THERAPISTS ARE GOOD- I’ve heard some sad stories about negative experiences with therapy, and they do happen. Unfortunately not every therapist is a good one. But just be mindful, if something seems off or if you feel what they are telling you is wrong/not right for you, follow your heart and find another therapist. Like I said, its a jigsaw puzzle, you just need to find the right fit for you.

I guess what I’m saying today is. Therapy is hard. But it works. Find what works for you, work hard, look after yourself and keep fighting against these terrible mental disorders. Because life is WORTH IT.

Sending love to you all, and if no one told you today…You are worthy and you deserve to get those dreams of yours : )

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