• Emily Formea

My Experience with Therapy

When I in the seventh grade, I was hospitalized for an eating disorder.

I was under the impression that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me and that I did not deserve to be there.

In fact, I was angry at my family and friends who had ‘turned me in’ to the hospital for the terrible behaviors I had been inflicting upon myself.

I was totally fine and did not want nor need anyone’s help.


Especially the help of a therapist.


I remember going to at least three therapists over the course of about 7 years.


I absolutely hated it.

I hated talking about my problems.

I felt like I was complaining and had no reason to do so. See that’s the problem with therapy… you are allowed to complain.


For someone like me with a Type-A personality, complaining was always seen as a weakness. I had nothing to complain about. I did not need anyone’s help because I was always able to fix everything, accomplish everything, succeed at everything… by myself.


I didn’t want to be viewed as weak.

Not because I am a vain person, but because weak meant I had failed and failing meant I was not perfect (even though perfect does not exist, but this was my mind at its best work), and if I was not perfect than I was nothing.


Seems like a pretty crazy spiral.


So, going to therapy meant I had to open up about my problems and ask for advice, guidance, etc.

It meant that I couldn’t handle it.

And I always was able to handle it.


Or was I?


Was handling my eating disorder when I found myself hospitalized due to being so malnourished? Was handling it when I had frequent anxiety attacks in college because I was so overwhelmed with school, life, etc.? Was handling it when I constantly bullied myself mentally because I would compare and compare and compare myself to others online and in person?


Not really.


So, why did I refuse the therapist’s help?


Because I didn’t want to need it.


I didn’t want to admit that I was struggling.

Because I didn’t want to struggle.


But that’s not exactly how that works.

You see struggles do not go away when you ignore them; struggles do not disappear when you pretend that they don’t exist. No, no they get much bigger.


Struggles thrive off embarrassment, loathing, and denial.

If you don’t want to have problems, that does not mean you automatically don’t have problems.


I didn’t want to go to therapy because I didn’t want to have an eating disorder.

Sadly, that is not how it works.


But the second thing that does not work when it comes to therapy is going if you have this mindset.

I would still go to therapy and talk and chat. I would pretend I was doing fantastic. I would cry maybe once and they go home. Refusing to make a single change in my life according to what the therapist suggested. Refusing to even really listen when I or she spoke.

I was a robot going through the motions.

Because if the therapy worked that meant I had a problem and needed the therapist.

And I didn’t want that.


Fast forward about 4 years since I had seen a therapist, which brings me to today.


Let me shed some light on something, not going to therapy or not taking the therapy sessions seriously did not get rid of my problems.


Instead, I struggled alone. I struggled probably harder than I needed to struggle. I struggled probably longer than I needed to struggle.


Pretending you don’t have a problem doesn’t make it true.


I recently went back to therapy.

I got free therapy through my work and one random day decided to go, but to ‘really go.’ I was present, I was honest, I was going through a lot of changes in my life since I had just graduated college and moved across the country.


It was nice.


It was nice to admit that I was not doing alright.

It was nice to have someone to talk to and not judge me on things that I was already judging myself on.

It was nice, to be honest with someone, but also be honest and vulnerable with me.


It helped my struggle.


I now go about once every two weeks and I truly enjoy it.

It has become a sort of self-care practice for me. I allow my true emotions to show through; I respect myself enough to do something that is valuable to my well-being; I make myself vulnerable so that I am able to work on the cracks within myself that I don’t show to many others.


It makes me a better version of myself because it allows me to work on just that.

Becoming a better version of me for me.


If therapy is not for you then I encourage you to find someone in your life who can act as your therapist.

But if you view therapy the same way I used to do so than try again.

Give therapy the chance it deserves.


Your struggles are real.

Your problems are valid.

But once you realize they are just something you are dealing with, that they don’t define you, that they don’t change your worth, but also that they cannot and should not be ignored, therapy is much easier and much more beneficial.


I still go to therapy now.

Even when I think I have nothing to talk about, I find something to talk about.

Because we are so good at covering shit up and hiding it deep within ourselves.


Therapy made me realize the only true way to get better is to admit you have a struggle.

The only way to rid yourself of that struggle is to face it head-on.

The only way to face it head on is not alone.


Try therapy if you have ever thought you should. It has changed my life and I wish I had allowed it to change my life sooner.


Sincerely,

Emily


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