I Went to Therapy, Too

I get many beautiful, reassuring messages that all seem to topple onto one another. They make me glow; I’m so proud to be in a place that people take interest in, despite that many of my days are far from sunny. But, as my DMs climb with compliments and admiration, I feel guilty for leading people to believe that all things are rosy. Everything I do is intentional: I rarely wake up perfectly motivated or happy. The good things in my life are a result of one big battle that rocks my world.

I am the result of years of therapy, who hit the bandwagon before it was cool,

and it’s the sole reason you see a peppy mom-to-be and not the anxiety-ridden darling I once was.

Writing this brings back an ugly flood of feelings, but I see so many people who can benefit from making the choice to get help, so I want (nay, need) them to make it.

In my high teens and early twenties, I went to therapy after an unhealthy relationship triggered a year-long depression. It was coincidentally the year my parents cut me off, which, embarrassingly enough, I wasn’t prepared for. I couldn’t afford my living situation without working 8 hours a day at my call center job. I wouldn’t ask for money. I’d skip class to make ends meet. Just months before, I’d been floating through a carefree year at Utah State, fully funded with a pretty 4.0 GPA. I’d made plans for law school and had been published in two anthologies during my first semester. With my AP credits, I’d even come into college as a sophomore. Academia was my playground.

Now, I was nearly failing out of school. It was gut wrenching. Then, things fell south with my relationship, and after being cut off financially (I know, boo hoo, I don’t feel bad for me, either), I was riddled – truly, sickly riddled – with anxiety and depression.

My roommates were still riding their parents’ bank accounts and able to zero in on their educations. I envied them for getting so much out of school, things I had once had, but no longer qualified for. One of my roommates was planning for law school. I remember breaking down later in my room, realizing that she was going to make it there and I, very likely, would not. There were not enough hours in my day to do both my job and school efficiently, so I decided that surviving was more important, and threw myself into work.

I went to therapy because I felt I was out of options. This was true darkness. Thin, shy, unrecognizable by my parents. Feeling manipulated. Dragging my feet through a relationship. Failing everything. It was a meager $20 weekly session. No one knew my secret.

But therapy changed it all.

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My therapist was my only source of help in managing my heartache and anxiety. He wrote letters admitting me back into school, prompted me to find a new job, and offered ways to cope through the panic attacks and depressive episodes. It took nearly two years (two years!) for me to work myself out of my darkness. I had phases of joy and sorrow.

Thankfully, my new job blossomed into a full time career, one that valued my creativity and now puts food on our table. Despite that my school years have been slowly, painfully sinking by (after I thought I’d be through college in three years), I single-handedly afforded a comfortable living for my little family in Southern California. I was on phone calls with NBA stars and TV actors. I work for a Fortune 500 company, a job I nabbed before even getting my degree. Law school was a beautiful ambition, but my drive is certainly in marketing.

Slow and steady won the race.

I realize most of the anxiety and depression we talk about comes from feeling insufficient because of social media. Truthfully, I’ve never really had issues with jealousy or comparison; I was always making my own fun. But my heartache came from the same vein of self-deprecation: feeling as if I had failed, and failed the ugly way.

But I tell you, therapy changed it. Therapy has made me a better partner. I’ve taught Winston how to communicate well, and while our marriage is certainly not perfect, we have always been able to talk fluidly, confront our feelings, and fix what needs fixing. I cry as I write this, since I never thought I’d be able to get that from a partner. I’ve learned so many parenting hacks, I could write a book about it (but that book will be totally irrelevant because this baby girl is probably going to eat my plans for dinner). While the panic and anxiety still happens, I feel confidence in managing it. I am kinder to myself and my soul. I am in super control of my perspective and attitude about things, and have found that my joy is no longer just a front: it’s genuine.

We all need therapy.

This gym-going, healthy-diet superhero gal you see in me is not a naturally motivated early riser who smiles through her “to do” list. I am sad and lonely there, too, and I amble through my days with complaints and heartaches. I just have the tools to make my life and my mind a better place to be, and I love it there.

You should too.