Do you need therapy?
While that question might seem off-putting, especially since it is a personal question about your mental health, it is also a very important one to ask. In fact, with Covid-19 still battering much of the world, and millions of people once again on lockdown, it’s only rational to ask that question at this point. It might even play a large role in helping relieve some of the feelings you are having.
Whether that feeling is of anxiety, depression, or anger, you deserve the chance to work them out with a trained professional. Of course, some are going to feel uncomfortable with the idea of talking about their feelings, and that is a valid fear, but let’s look at it as an exchange. You reveal yourself emotionally to this person, and they in return help you find ways to work through the issues you face.
Again, it’s not going to be the most comfortable thing in the world the first few times. You might even find yourself sweating it out in the waiting room while you wait your turn. Or maybe you shiver as you first get on the phone with your new teledoctor, but that moment of pain could be worth it. It could open a door and allow you to live a much fuller life.
For example, when I was younger, I always had anxiety. I would literally sneak out of the house at night in middle school just to relieve the immense anxiety I was feeling. Sometimes I even walked for hours before returning home to get what little sleep I could. It was a very dark point in my life, where my world consisted of panic attacks, school, and that little bit of sleep.
My life was a literal hell, my self-confidence was on the floor and I was on the verge of just giving up completely. Of course, I didn’t let my parents or anyone else know that. Instead, I buried it down and released it into more panic attacks, missing days of school on end, and basically having the bare minimum of social life.
There were a few friends that were nice enough to hang out with me, but I was usually too scared out of my mind to even do that. I even walked around the entire perimeter of the school for several laps until the bell rung just because I couldn’t stay still. I would just walk with the same glassy-eyed look on my face while I sweated it out and coughed violently.
I did have a therapist at the time, but I made the mistake of not taking it seriously. That’s the second thing I want to talk about here due to it really being the most important of them all. No matter how many times you call and talk to your counselor, it’s only going to work if you take time to internalize the dialogues you are having and to make actionable changes in your life.
For example, one day I was doing a joint session with my psychologist and my mother. We were talking about ways to deal with anxiety and I remember being a Freshman in High school. Anyway, he was talking to me about the idea of concentration and how I could use it to direct my thoughts and feelings away from my anxiety.
I didn’t believe him at first, feeling very uncomfortable with the idea of me having control for some reason. It was almost like I felt stupid for not being able to control my body. After a moment of reflection on his words, he asked if we could try a concentration exercise. He asked me to think about a comfortable place and put myself there.
I think I chose the beach just to go along with it and started to think about the sun beating down on my body. I could smell a fresh breeze coming off the water at certain points and the doctor even turned on a wave machine to simulate an actual ocean. Interestingly enough, the more I thought about this peaceful place, the more my anxiety subsided. It was like a miracle.
It was peace. Genuine peace of mind where none existed before. I went from feeling like waves were crashing against my chest as I struggled to keep myself above water emotionally, to a clear mind. My mood was almost jovial at that point. For one moment, I finally had control of what had been bothering me for most of my life.
And then, my doctor did it. He broke back up the pain I had felt in my chest a few moments ago and like magic, they returned. The waves seemed to crash harder this time. Almost like I could hear them in my head. I got that same sour knot in my stomach that always bothered me and finally, I started coughing again for no reason.
What stunned me the most though is that he showed me right there how to control my emotions. Both how to get myself away from the pain and back to the pain. He was literally showing me that I had the power to control all of it. I could sit there and find ways to distract myself and ignore my anxiety.
The only problem with that is I didn’t listen that time. I just kept on focusing on the fact that the anxiety came back. I guess I seemed to think that the anxiety was over completely when he did that. Either that or I didn’t put much stock in my ability o breathe, bring myself to another place in my mind, and ultimately relieve my haunting anxiety.
I should have taken it more seriously. I should have been more open to working on myself and I should have focused some of my time on perfecting this coping mechanism. Instead, however, I spent forever and a day blaming everyone else and still stating I couldn’t control them. The worst part though is that I lost so much of my life in the process.
And that’s what I don’t want to happen to you. I want you to live a full and happy life with your problems reasonably behind you. I want you to be able to face your demons and talk them out with a trained professional. You deserve to feel that peace in your life, and you owe it to yourself to do so if you are struggling with mental health during this ongoing pandemic.
In the end, the world will one day be normal again. People will be back to work and the economy will be flourishing. Sure, mask-wearing might become a thing, and the need for sanitization might go up exponentially, but we are bound to return to some kind of normal soon. With that being said, wouldn’t you want to be the best version of yourself possible for when that time finally comes?