In times of great loss, stress or life changes, everyone works through it at their own pace. But what happens when you can’t get through it on your own? What do you do when talking to your spouse, friends or family aren’t enough? Sometimes, it is helpful (and maybe necessary) to turn to a professional.
What is therapy? It’s not just laying on a couch, staring at the ceiling, pulling out tissue after tissue. Psychotherapy is the practice of spending time with a trained therapist to help diagnose and treat mental and emotional problems. Therapy can take various forms—cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, psychodynamic therapy, or a combination of these—but at the center of each is the caring relationship between a mental health professional and a patient. (www.psychologytoday.com)
There is still much controversy about therapy and whether it works. I’m going to tell you about my experience and how it helped me.
After we lost Zoe, I had so much trouble coping. I was really angry with myself and I couldn’t seem to get around it. I felt so guilty. I felt that it was my fault, even though there was no cause that could be found. I felt like I was supposed to keep her safe and I couldn’t. I was her mother, I was supposed to be responsible, I did everything I was supposed to and I couldn’t get her safely into the world.
A few months after she was born, I was referred to a counselor surprisingly by my chiropractor. He gave me her information and I called to make an appointment. I didn’t feel the effects after my first visit, or even my second, but over time she made me face the feelings that I was having and process them in a safe, non-judgmental environment. I saw her pretty consistently for about 18 months. She didn’t tell me that my feelings were ridiculous, she didn’t try to tell me how to fix it. She listened.
My doctor suggested it again after losing Heath, but I really didn’t want to. I felt that it was so EXHAUSTING having to feel everything the first time, I couldn’t stomach the thought of talking about feeling it. It was just too much. That might change as time goes on, but for now, that’s where I stand.
I was leaving yoga one morning, and I overheard a lady talking. She said, “And I was telling my therapist….” I didn’t think less of her. Honestly, I thought, “Yes! It’s not just me!”
I’m not saying everyone should go to therapy. I don’t know that everyone would benefit from it. But why do people resist it so much? We all want to be happy, right? Here are some reasons why:
— Investing in “happiness” is expensive and frivolous
— We want a “quick fix”
— Facing our feelings is hard!
— We don’t think it will work
— We may be embarrassed that we need help coping
When might we need help from a professional:
— Death of a close family member (parent, spouse or child)
— Changing jobs or careers
— Adopting or having a new child
— Processing childhood trauma
Sometimes it is helpful just having someone on the outside listen to what’s going on in your life, someone to give an objective opinion. I’m not saying you need it. I’m just saying be open to the idea when you feel like you are struggling on your own.
May you have to consider what might happen if you don’t.