Musings: Therapy in the time of Mental Health
I was twenty-one years old when I was first introduced to therapy. I always knew about it, and I have even asked my mother to take me to counselling. Counselors had been an expensive lot and since growing up, we were a zero income family, we never could pursue it.
Nevertheless, at twenty-one, I had to go see a child psychologist. It was then that we found out that I had been born with depression. It had gone un-diagnosed for twenty-one years. There were too many reasons as to why I had depression: I worried too much, I didn't see the light at the end of the tunnel, my mother's mental health wasn't doing so well when she had me. I had, doubtlessly, inherited her mental state when I was born.
The child psychologist helped me feel comfortable in my own skin. Even though I was dating someone back then, who claimed to love me, I thought of myself as someone truly unlovable. In my head, I had painted pictures of myself with the ugliest versions of myself. No matter what anyone would tell me. I strongly believed that I was too ugly. I worried about never being able to make it ends meet… my mom nicknamed me her little worrier. Even with her assurances of things falling into place, I wasn't convinced. Going to the child psychologist helped me get a check on my life. The voice in my head grew kinder. But there was always something I couldn't really put my finger on.
And I wouldn't be able to trace until I moved to Mumbai in 2018.
I remember the incident as though it happened yesterday. It was a December afternoon when I completely broke down at work. I didn't want anyone to see me at my most vulnerable. I walked out of my office and found myself at the doctor's chambers I walked past for months! There was the number for a therapist written there. I asked the receptionist if it was possible to meet her. She told me to call and book an appointment.
I called me therapist in the middle of having a panic attack. She had the kindest voice I’d ever heard. She walked me through the attack, and asked me to meet her the following morning.
I remember one of the first things she ever said to me when I walked into her office. I was still reeling from the panic attack of the night before.
“We will figure out a way for you to deal with life on your own terms. You cannot be in therapy forever. The idea is to help you find a way to take charge of your own life.”
From December until May, I was in therapy. It started with seeing her twice a week, then once a week, and finally once in two weeks. Now, I go to therapy when I feel the need to check up on my mental health. But I could feel the change for myself from when I first went into therapy and right now, I when I am able to take a step back and look at the world objectively.
The primary reason for writing this blog post is because I am not ashamed of the fact that I went to therapy. I think given the lives we’ve come to live, it’s necessary for everyone to at least consider going to therapy. Yes, I did it because I needed to come to terms with a lot of things I thought about myself. But at the same time I’ve greatly benefited from it. I learned to walk myself through anxiety attacks.
In my years of dealing with mental health issues, I’ve come to learn that there’s no getting over anxiety or depression. There’s only learning to live with it in a healthy way.