I’ve had a lot on my heart lately.
Actually, since 1996. I’ve been anxious for as long as I can remember. Don’t believe me?
Most 5 year-olds get some separation anxiety when they start full-day kindergarten, but for two months, I only went to school until noon every day before I panicked and had to go home. But I survived.
One day during elementary school, my teacher set up a hot oil popcorn maker so we could watch how popcorn was produced from kernels as they burst through the air into fluffy golden puffs. She warned that we should sit far enough from the popcorn maker to avoid any splattering oil. *Cue anxiety* I cried and pressed myself up against the furthest wall to avoid being scalded by hot cooking oil. But I survived.
In middle school, I was picked up for lunch every day simply to take a break and breathe before resuming my afternoon. I visited a neurologist and took ibuprofen every. single. day. to ease the tension headaches. But I survived.
During my freshman year of college, I couldn’t eat or sleep properly and went home every weekend just to get some rest. But I survived.
Surviving wasn’t enough for me, though. I didn’t want to just be “okay.” I didn’t want to painstakingly analyze every decision I made. I was tired of my overactive mind convincing me I shouldn’t do things or go places. I was done missing out on events because a dumb little serotonin imbalance in my brain told me it wouldn’t be a safe idea. OVER. IT.
So listen, I’ve tried therapy a few times before. By “tried,” I mean “didn’t put in the effort.” In 7th grade, I saw a therapist and cried my little eyes out every time because I still wasn’t “fixed” after a couple 60-minute sessions. In college, I went to campus counseling and could never fit an appointment into my schedule. Now, here we are. Three years into taking Lexapro every day (pssst…read about my experience with antidepressants here) and I’m doing better, but not my best. I’m ready to take the leap again.
I’ve recognized that a lot of my anxiety is heightened during big life transitions *cue kindergarten, middle school, then college.* Now, as I’m managing this young adulthood chaos, I feel like combining my daily meds with therapy could be really good for me. I decided to join Talkspace (this is not sponsored, but I wouldn’t be mad if it was…I just genuinely love it. You can follow this link for a free $150 for Talkspace. That’ll give you nearly a month’s worth of therapy if you want to try it. Woohoo free money for self care!)
I know what you’re thinking…
“Virtual therapy? I don’t think that’s as effective as seeing someone face to face.”
“Online therapy doesn’t feel very personal.”
“What if the therapist isn’t online or doesn’t respond when I need them to?”
I hear you! It’s not for everyone. At this point, I can’t afford to see someone in person, even with insurance (hi, affordable healthcare is a serious problem in the United States). I thought this alternative option would be super flexible, discreet, and I can message with my therapist EVERY DAY if I want to. I dig. We’re trying it.
Once I was matched to a therapist based on my concerns, the very first question she asked me was, “What brings you here?” The million dollar question.
Why am I here? Because I want to learn why I feel the way I do sometimes. I want to find out how I can manage my anxious thoughts and feelings appropriately. I want to discover strategies on how to cope in a healthy and effective way. Instead of asking myself the same questions and making excuses, I want to start taking action. I’m ready to live more freely and less anxiously. I want to improve my relationships with other people by being a better Jess first. That’s why I’m here.
So I started talking about it with my therapist. Over the past few weeks, she’s asked lots of questions that revealed some uncharted territory for me, things I’d never thought about before. She’s offered an unbiased, fresh perspective. She’s in my corner and she’s helping me come up with action plans to reach my personal goals — oof, my anxious organizer brain LOVES a meticulously mapped out plan. I video chat with her once a month and message with her multiple times per week. She keeps me accountable and calls me out on my B.S. We all need a little bit of that, right?
I feel like there’s still some stupid stigma around therapy. Like it’s something only “crazy, unstable people” do. WTF why??? Therapy is L-I-T-E-R-A-L-L-Y for anything. It’s there for you to talk about your career, relationships, goals you’re itching to reach, maybe even things like family life, grief, addictions, or past traumas. There are so many methods of therapy to explore, too. It’s not a one size fits all sort of dealio, and a good therapist will cater to you and what you’re hoping to accomplish. SO, if you’re feeling overwhelmed about some parts of your life but don’t think therapy can help you, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Sorry ’bout it.
No, therapy will not “fix” me, because I’m not broken. It will not “cure” my anxiety, but it WILL help me uncover new skills to better handle the parts of my life that I struggle with sometimes. SO, my sweet beautiful bloggy reading angels, here’s to self improvement and awareness. Here’s to less upsetti spaghetti and more cheesin’ and self-pleasin’. Here’s to mental health BABYYY! Take care of yourself, friends. Schedule an appointment with a therapist, and probably your dentist, too. It’s been a while, hasn’t it.