About a year ago, I wrote a post about my therapist and my experience with therapy (and to be blunt, it has been the shittest experience ever). If you don't know, I suffer from major depression and anxiety, and I have faced suicidal thoughts so many times that I don't think I could even tell you just how much those dark thoughts consume me. When I was 14, I tried to end my own life, and ever since then, I've been in a war with myself to keep going when I've just wanted to let go for good. I often say that I don't think I'm anyone special. Or that anyone who's in a similar situation can look to me for guidance or maybe even inspiration, but we often find strength in those who are open and honest about struggling, and perhaps by sharing more of what I'm going through it will help someone else who thinks that speaking to someone isn't going to help. Which brings me back to the 'T' word. I've bounced between so many places that I can't count the number of times I've broken down after going through yet another traumatic experience with a therapist who didn't seem to get that I was broken and desperately needed help. I often felt judged and felt like I couldn't be honest about the fact that I wanted to die. I can vividly remember a time when I came out of an appointment feeling more deflated than I did when I went in. I felt so judged, and like being honest had made the therapist think there was no way I could be helped. I finally decided enough was enough, and I needed to find the right therapist to help me because frankly, I was so close to the edge of death that it was worth trying again.
As you all know from my last post about this topic, I found the right therapist, and it has changed my life. I am so lucky and so thankful that I am in this position. Whenever I go into the clinic, I feel so welcome, and I'm always greeted with the friendliest face (and sometimes I'm greeted by my therapists mum, who is just as kind-hearted and welcoming as her daughter is). I know that finding a therapist is an extremely personal experience, and it can take years of going to different people to find the right one, but it's so worth going through a ridiculous amount of 'bad' (and I say bad in terms of them not being the right fit for me ) appointments.
Somehow over the last one and a half years that I've been going to therapy, I not only found a safe place to speak openly and honestly about the mess in my head, but I made a friend. Now I know most people probably think you shouldn't be friends with your therapist, but I believe that the word friend extends beyond spending time with someone and trusting them. We're friends in the sense that I can email her in between appointments when I'm struggling and lost in the dark tunnel without any shining light, and we're friends in the sense that when I attend appointments it isn't like I'm going to a therapist, it's like I'm going to have coffee with someone I've known all my life. I know that not every client gets the privilege to connect with their therapist in the way that I have, but I truly realise how lucky I've been in finding my therapist. She has gone above and beyond her duty of care to help me, and 'thank you' will never be enough to express how grateful I am. I'm no longer anxious driving to therapy, I no longer lie in my sessions, and I no longer cover up just how much I struggle. It takes a phenomenal person to be able to make someone else feel so comfortable that they can openly say the things that haunt and destroy them.
During my latest session, we had a little cry after we spoke about how thankful I was for everything T has done for me, and how much of an impact she has made on my life. I told her that she has played a role in saving me, in fact, I'd go as far as to say that she has single handily saved me. It's important to realise my family have tried so hard to keep me going, but I was at a point where I was just done. And seeing another therapist felt like I was doing it to please my family, but I was wrong. I needed therapy, I needed help, and I found the safe haven I didn't realise I was searching for.
Through the lowest of lows (and trust me, there have been multiple appointments where I've been hysterically saying I couldn't go on anymore), and the highest of highs I've been able to learn so many things that I needed to learn. Like not beating myself up all the time, and realising that I'm worthy as a person, and I would never have been able to carry on this long without T and her guidance.
And then Archie came along. Thanks to the support of T, I was able to adopt Archie, and he has played a role in saving my life too (which you can read about in my post 'Along Came Archie'). Archie now comes to my appointments with me, and he helps me work through being an emotional mess (fun fact, I am such an emotional person, and when I cry, I cry hard!). He offers me the same comfort that going to therapy does, and with the help of both T and Archie I've been able to continue taking steps forward when I've felt like I couldn't move anymore.
I guess the point of this post is to highlight how important it is to realise it is SO OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY. And in a world that's so judgemental having the right support system that will pick you up when you fall down has the power to save you. And it's important to realise that it's okay to go through several therapists before you find the right one (even if it is draining). But I know from experience, the right therapist does exist, and mine is so worth the 45-minute drive I make.
Carl Rogers once said "We think we listen, but very rarely do we listen with real understanding, true empathy. Yet listening, of this very special kind, is one of the most potent forces for change that I know." So T, Thank you for truly listening to all the crap that swirls through my head and thank you for never judging me or making me feel like I can't be saved. Thank you for continuing to be there for me when I feel like continuing is impossible. Thank you for encouraging me to get Archie and for reminding me how much I'm worth. Thank you for changing the world and showing people like me that having a mental illness (or mental illnesses) doesn't define you as a person, and thank you for showing me that dying is no longer my only option.
T, you are one of my heroes, and I hope you know how freaking amazing you are not only as a therapist but as a person too.
If you're struggling, please don't be afraid to reach out. It can often feel like no one cares or no one will truly listen to you, but we're never truly alone, and it's brave to get help when you feel like your world is crumbling around you.
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
*I haven't included my therapists name in order to protect her identity*
Below are a couple of photos I took from the therapy room and Archie (who was having a nap before my session started hehe).
The room overlooks the ocean (which is a bit difficult to see as it was a stormy day). I find it so comforting to be able to see the ocean and I love it when it rains!
The other side of the room, Archie loves this plant and he always tries to climb up to look out the window (sorry T! :P)