6 Pieces of Wisdom I’ve Collected During My Years in Therapy

I used to say I knew all the “tricks” that therapists use. You know the ones that get you to talk, and all of a sudden you catch yourself sharing “too much,” which causes you to retreat and curse them in your head and swear to yourself never to be fooled again.

Maybe this situation has only happened to me (probably not, though). Therapy can be hard and uncomfortable no matter how old you are or the circumstances surrounding it. I was 11 when I first saw a therapist. It was right after my dad died by suicide. My mom made me to go, but I avoided all topics related to my dad’s death and my eating disordered behaviors as much as possible.

I’ve now seen 11 different therapists. When I was 20, I started going to therapy on my own terms and realized therapists aren’t all bad. Their so-called “tricks” are therapeutic techniques, which I’m now learning about as I complete my masters in marriage and family therapy.

My therapists have actually provided me with many pieces of wisdom. I have collected them over the past few years in my journey of healing from the trauma of my dad’s death and various mental illness diagnoses.

I’d like to share the best blurbs of encouragement, wisdom and understanding I have received over the past few years, which I realize also attests to my own personal growth:

1. You aren’t stuck in the darkness. You don’t even realize it, but you’re already in the “gray area,” making progress towards being happy and healthy just by being in therapy.

2. You aren’t responsible for your mother’s (or anyone else’s) reactions. Only your own.

3. When things start to get overwhelming and you’re caught in the crossfire of drama or emotional abuse, sing circus music in your head and tell yourself on repeat: “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” (This isn’t a solution; it’s just an “in the moment” coping skill.)

4. When you fly on an airplane, the flight attendant instructs you to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others. You must always take care of yourself first, otherwise you will have no emotional or physical strength left to help others.

5. I often desperately ask my therapist, “How long will it take to get better?” Her answer always is “until.” Meaning that it takes as long as it takes. There is no timeline on recovery; you keep going however long it takes.

6. Here’s one mantra of sorts my therapist told me: “Move a muscle, change a thought.” (I later learned this is from Alcoholics Anonymous.) If you feel stuck, get up and do something about it. Don’t like the situation you’re in? Move. You aren’t a tree.

The Mighty is asking the following: What is a part of your or a loved one’s disease, disability or mental illness that no one is aware of? Why is it time to start talking about it? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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