Therapy, also known as counseling, provides professional guidance in resolving personal or psychological problems. I have been in and out of therapy a fair number of times, usually through my educational institution, like school or university, but occasionally through the support of charities. I have taken part in mindfulness trial schemes, one on one counseling, and I even went to a weekend bereavement camp when I was ten that focused on creative outlets for grief. Therapy can take so many forms and it has probably been the most successful form of mental health treatment for me in the long term.
Just because an individual is mentally ill, it doesn’t mean they are not aware of how their mental health impacts the lives of themselves and those around them. Perhaps this Tumblr post phrased it best:”Being mentally ill is just being fed up with your own sh*t 24/7″. That being said, the process of choosing to take part in treatment and recovery is far from easy. You are battling against not only your own mind, but also society’s minimization of your condition that continually makes you believe therapy and/or medication would be an overreaction.
While most mental health studies indicate medication works best when combined with therapy, many choose not to confront their issues through counseling or other forms of therapy due to fear and anxiety. Sometimes is appears easier to sit in self-pity, that therapy would be too overwhelming. For me, part of being self-aware of my behavior means that I need to take responsibility for my actions and live my best life for myself, and for those closest to me.
I don’t have the words to accurately describe just how much mental illness sucks. It tarnishes how I experience almost every aspect of my life, and it also can’t be fun for for my friends or family who continue to support me. Both they and I deserve for me to attend therapy to continue to work on improving my mental health.
Confronting my mind is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but its makes it easier to live with myself. Self-care isn’t all meditation and cucumber water, it can get ugly. Sometimes I leave therapy crying, sometimes angry, sometimes numb – but always with the knowledge that I’m doing something that will empower and better myself in the long term.
As of right now I pay for my own sessions, after using up my university’s free sessions at the beginning of this academic year. Naturally, I understand this isn’t a viable option for everyone, due to the expense and time restraints within many people’s lives. However, there is a growing number of online therapy courses, both websites and apps. As well as one-on-one therapy. I use the NHS SilverCloud Programme – a free and flexible service, that uses CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) to give you the skills to be your own therapist. Medication can provide short term relief, improving your brain chemistry while you take it, and can be necessary for many who take it. Keep in mind, multiple forms of medication have negative side effects after long term use and don’t necessarily support you for the future. Therapy is a necessary partner to medication that services you for the future. As always, please do follow the advice of your doctor, and continue to take your medication – something that can be a difficult hurdle in its own right.
Photo Credit: Katarína Chovancová via Flickr