Coming to Terms with Therapy

Words by: Akira Kerr

The dress I pull out of my wardrobe is black with little white daisies. It always reminds me of something I used to wear when I was little. It’s flowy and comfortable, with little straps. I find those cute socks with the cherries in my sock drawer, the ones with the scalloped cuffs. I’m going to wear this outfit with my worn black Converse. I think this will make my outfit cute, but in a way that’s not trying too hard.

Where am I going? A little bit of shopping in the city? Lunch with a friend? A date?

Nope. I’m off to therapy.

“Oh, are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m just an anxious girl.”

This was the short conversation I had with my manager when I turned down a morning shift because I had a psych appointment.

Of course, most people who go to therapy go because at one point they weren’t feeling okay. What—with the costs of seeing a psychologist, and the amount of time and work it can take to get a referral—would be the point of going through all that if I did feel okay?

I started seeing a therapist after I was feeling depressed because the rod in my arm threw my hormones out of whack (the doctors say that the rod is good, in my experience it is not). I worked through a lot of stuff. I was able to own that I inherited anxiety from my Dad (thanks Dad!), I had perfectionism issues, and I discovered I had an avoidant attachment style.

Going to therapy has been surrounded by a certain whispering of judgement and shame. This stigma lingers conversations as someone casually (or maybe with deliberate indifference) mentions that they go to therapy. Oftentimes, the conversation becomes confessionary, like a long- held secret is sombrely produced. Sometimes there’s an awkward silence until they admit why they go to therapy. But, I’m beginning to notice that over time—especially with our generation recognising their own family’s generational trau- ma—people fixing their emotional baggage isn’t something to bat an eye at.

In some ways it’s kind of weird that every three weeks I go to see a random lady and talk to her about my life for an hour and then leave. Yet, even if some weeks I come out thinking, ‘what were we even talking about?’, I still feel myself becoming a little bit more aware of the kind of person I am.

I am not a person who is used to taking time for myself. I’m sure many people would relate—there is a certain amount of guilt that comes with watching an episode of a favourite show rather than doing the reading for your 9am tutorial. “It’s fine, I’ll get to it later”. So, therapy has become time when I get to focus on myself. I am paying to give myself a little bit of the attention that I am not willing to normally, without a tinge of shame.

It feels like reopening a book you haven’t picked up in a while, turning back through the pages because you’d forgotten what happened, pouring over the words and trying to find more meaning than you had before. You realise new things, you learn about how this certain event led to what is happening now, and you take the time to develop an understanding of the story that lies before you.

Therapy gives you permission to be curious. It allows you the time to come to terms with your own personal history, discover the things that make you YOU, and if you need to, learn to change the things that have made you feel unhappy. You get to take the time to be unsure, a little confused, and tentative. You give yourself a chance to slow down and take everything in. So, every three weeks I sit on the plush grey couch, talking as my eyes drift around the spirals in the hemp rug on the floor, noticing the blue hues that fill the room sitting on the corner of a busy street. I take the obligatory deep, slow breaths as I recognise this time is just for me, my thoughts, my black daisy dress and the worn black Converse.

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