Lessons I’ve Learned After a Year of Therapy


Lessons After a Year of TherapyI began my journey with regular therapy a little over a year ago. It has not always been smooth sailing. Getting to the root of the causes of my depression and anxiety meant digging deep and facing some uncomfortable truths about me, what I believed about myself and others, and how my interactions with others were either unhealthy or needed change. It was downright unpleasant at times, BUT once I was able to examine these things, I could move on to learning how to change behaviors and expectations. I’ve come to view therapy as a training ground. I don’t have the knowledge or skills to manage certain emotions. This lack of skills greatly contributes to bouts of anxiety and depression. I go to therapy to learn how to identify my areas of inexperience and learn techniques on how to work with them. There are many different types of therapy, and depending on your therapist’s area of concentration and your issues, it might look different for you. I chose cognitive behavior therapy and it has been a great benefit to me since it has helped me gain understanding and control over my issues. 

You can read here about where I started to get a feel for how far I’ve come on this journey. In the meantime, here are some lessons I’ve learned after a year of therapy:

1. Sometimes you have to ride it out. 

This was probably the hardest lesson to learn. Everyone has rough patches — moments and days in which you feel low and blue. If you have depression and anxiety, you can be sure you’ll have these days. I wanted there to be a magic cure — pop a pill, do some chants, and bam, feel that healing power. If only life worked like that, right? Once I recognized that rough patches were okay and even normal, I felt much better. I think of it like a wave in the ocean: one day, I’ll be in a calm sea just swimming along, and the next a huge wave sweeps me up. Sometimes I can see it coming and take steps to avoid it, but other times it comes out of nowhere and I just have to ride it out KNOWING that it won’t last forever. During these times, I give myself plenty of grace, loads and heaps of grace. My house might be dirty, my kids might watch too much TV and eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but that’s okay. I pick myself up and move on. I don’t dwell on the negative and I give myself grace instead. I am happy to say that now these waves get further and further away.Lessons I've Learned from a Year of Therapy

2. Know your triggers. 

This world is full of trauma junkies. We are witnesses to other people’s worst moments at all times. It’s splashed across our televisions, social media, newspapers, and talked about between friends. I am one of those people who simply can’t handle this constant barrage of pain and suffering that’s always available. I get sucked in and start devoting time to looking up more about the story, about the people, and reading the whys and hows. I devote my thoughts and time to thinking about the story, and it’s not healthy for me. I learned it’s okay to turn away. I’m not advocating that anyone live inside a bubble and ignore everything around them, but hear me out; too much of it is harmful and exhausting. I can’t change a single thing about that person’s situation. My thoughts and worries don’t do anything but add to my stress and anxiety. I limit my consumption of news and current events. I’ve found some sites that give a generic list of daily events without too much detail. I stay up to date, but I don’t go down the rabbit hole. You might have different triggers. Learn what they are and how you can work around them.

3. Find ways to relax and focus yourself.

This has been the single biggest help in my journey. In those moments in which I feel my anxiety creeping up, I take a few moments to step outside the situation and calm myself down. I have two apps on my phone that I use for relaxation purposes; one is a deep breathing app (Breathe Deep, free version), and the other is the app Calm (free version). These can be used anywhere and take just a few minutes to get through. Looking at pictures on my phone or playing a word game also help redirect my focus. If for some reason I’m without my phone, a trick my therapist taught me is to “ground” myself by concentrating on the feel of my feet touching the ground and then relaxing them, and doing this with each body part until I get to my head, followed by a few good deep breaths. The point is to redirect your focus from feelings of anxiety to something else that takes concentration. Once I’m not focused on that creeping feeling of anxiety, I find that I can easily move past those feelings and get on with what I was doing. 

If you’re suffering from anxiety or depression, there is HOPE. So much hope and so much support. You do not have to figure it out on your own or feel shame. I know not everyone has access to a counselor or therapist, so here is a resource I use often and with which I’ve had success. It was recommended to me by my therapist. There are TONS of articles, links, and guides on a myriad of issues, so spend some time sorting through it to see what applies to your situation. 

I no longer go to therapy regularly. I go every couple of months for maintenance purposes and just to check in. I’m not perfect and never will be, but anxiety does not rule my life like it did one year ago. There is hope out there, y’all. Search for it and then wrestle it to the ground for yourself. You’ve got this. 



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