Love It or Hate It?: Therapy.

The other day I had a friend request to chat about what it is he should be looking to get from therapy and, really, that's a great question. I think there's a lot of false stigma around therapy on both the negative and positive spectrums and I'd like to give my two cents on it. Therapy is amazing. It really, really is. It's important to note, though, that therapy isn't a cure for most people. When coming in with long-term mental health issues, especially those that are literally chemical imbalances in the brain, it shouldn't be expected that therapy will have you clicking your heels on the way out the door with a sudden, miraculous new lease on life. Man, I wish, though. For the longest time, as both a teen and a young adult, I assumed that's what I was in for: a cure, a fix-all. It was understandable how disappointed I was time after time, new therapist after new therapist, that I wasn't cured of my ailments. It made me sad and I thought maybe I was broken beyond any repair. It made me angry and I thought who the hell were these so-called professionals who couldn't even fix me. I was frustrated by not being fixed. I wondered what the point was and why I was wasting my time. A lot of people give up on therapy because they don't get a quick-fix. I don't believe therapy is there to cure most people. I mean, they can do wonders with trauma and things like that but when you have lifelong mental illness, there's not much to do to just get rid of it. You know, the best we can do is have our medication and have our therapy, but I don't think it's a cure by any stretch. On the note of professionals: I'm not one of them! What I have to say about therapy and mental health in general is based on my own thoughts and beliefs, and my own experiences. Never take my words as medical or professional advice! I think of therapy as a bottle of NyQuil. It helps the symptoms of the common cold/flu, but it's not a cure for the sickness itself. It should be a safe space where you can speak about all of your thoughts and feelings where your therapist can assist in sorting through it- be it long-term issues from the past, or even something that happened the other day. What I find I is the most useful to me in therapy is having an outside perspective on my own thoughts/feelings, and on situations from someone neurotypical (or someone who can see things in the way neurotypical people do). It helps me to understand that sometimes the way I see/feel things or react to things are simply my brain being a trickster, and aren't necessarily correct. That, hey, maybe so-and-so who wasn't trying to be intentionally mean by saying this-and-that, that they could have been generalizing and I simply took it incredibly personally and that my reaction may have been inappropriate. I'm a huge believer in therapy- it's something that can help anyone! I even recommend therapy to those who don't suffer from a mental health illness; everyone could use someone to talk through their lives with. Give it a try. Have faith and, more importantly, patience. Shay xo.

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