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3 Things I've Learned From Therapy

For me, it has been a long hard road to find a therapist, but now that I have found the right one, it makes all the difference in the world. Because in each session, I learn something more about myself and I become more self-aware so I can tackle problems as they arise.

Here are three things I’ve learned:

1. “Should” is one of the most judgmental things you can say.

Should. We hear this word a lot. I hear it from my mother, my friends, my colleagues… and they don’t realize it, but it’s one of the meanest things they can say. I know it never comes from ill intention and they don’t mean to harm, but that doesn’t take the sting out of it.

When you say the word, “should,” this is what I hear:

Why didn’t you think of this earlier?

Why didn’t you do that?

If you had thought of it thoroughly, you would wouldn’t be missing these things.

I know better than you.

Listen to me. My feelings are valid and valuable.

2. Struggling is part of putting in the work.

I have goals for going to therapy. I go for a reason: I want to get better. I want to be treated for anxiety, depression, eating disorders and BPD.

It doesn’t feel like I’m doing any work — and it was getting to me because I need to know myself this is worth it. Because therapy is expensive and it’s time-consuming and I want to have something to show for it. I show up to every session, even though it’s hard, but it often just feels like talking. And I know that’s what Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is. But in between sessions, I’m still feeling empty. Anxious. I still get night terrors and I fall into depressive episodes. I fight emptiness and I let food control me, but this, apparently, is part of the process.

Learning to get struggle through these tough times, but more importantly — recognizing behaviors and finding triggers — is putting in the work. Every day I get out of bed, every day I go to work and eat and shower and do the things I don’t want to, but do in spite of my struggles — that is putting in the work. And it means I’m one step closer to recovery.

3. Being jealous or envious of my friends doesn’t make me a bad person or a bad friend.

This is one of the most important things I’ve learned so far — being envious or jealous of your friends does not make you a bad person. It just means there is something missing inside of you, something you want that you just don’t have right now. Not just yet.

What counts as being a good friend? For me it’s being there when they need you and being honest when your friend is being “too much” to handle. You can be happy for someone without having to pretend like it’s not hurtful for them to rub your face in their success, whether it’s a promotion, a new condo or moving their relationship to a next level. I’m happy for you the first time, but the 700th time you mention it just serves to remind me you have something I want… something I can’t have — at least not right now.

These things I’ve learned come from having a great therapist, but also from believing therapy works. For me, CBT is effective and is worth the effort. It also comes from finding the right fit and trusting my therapist to be an objective set of eyes to pull me out of a spiral when I am too close to see anything but the void inside myself. And this is why finding the right therapist matters.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Thinkstock photo via isaxar.

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