I remember the release of emotions like it was yesterday. The hallway was narrow, and I was nervous when I left my shoes outside the door. I wore skinny jeans, which I regretted as soon I sat down in the very corner of the big couch. I felt so small when she looked at me with motherly eyes and asked: “What brings you here today?”. I couldn’t hold them back anymore, so I cried, I cried all the tears I had kept from coming for years.
I promised to tell you about my experiences in therapy. It’s a bit difficult. Not because it’s personal, but because it’s difficult to remember all the facts. So, I called my mother. She remembers more and she is the reason why it has always felt so natural and easy to reach for help, talk and look at therapy as the most natural part of life. My mother brought us up in a way where asking for help and talking things out is as natural as following the vaccine program. Whenever someone felt or feels a bit low or struggles in life, my mother always suggested to go somewhere to sort out our own thoughts and head. She would always offer her support but respected our privacy enough to provide us with other options as well, and taught us to independently search for help.
My mother talks about therapy like it’s a luxury we all deserve to have. It’s self-care, repair and self-love. Like a massage for the soul. Having ups and downs are part of life and feeling weak is ok too. We all handle them differently and for me, sorting my thoughts with the help of somebody has been life changing and makes me feel safe.
“Always remember, that you’re just as good as everyone else, but never think you’re any better than anyone else” is also a message I’ve been brought up with. Therefore, I’m not afraid to be open and transparent and say, that I’ve had my struggles.
So, having an upbringing that encourages self-searching, self-development and working on oneself by talking, it was easy for me to reach out when I felt I needed someone outside the family to turn to. I think it’s very important to encourage children to be open minded towards therapy. I know I will.
Already in high school, I went to see the curator at school. My parents got a divorce, and although I didn’t necessarily suffer from it, I thought it would be good to have someone to talk to about it. It felt good to have the time and space to juggle my own thoughts and feelings. That’s when I realized, that talking to someone, doesn’t have to be scary or serious. It was developing, refreshing and helped me keep my focus on other things. It was good for my organized self to have a specific lot just for my own thoughts once a week. I did it in a precautionary way, which has served me later.
During my life, I’ve been through goods and bads like most of us. I don’t feel the need or interest to go into depth about each of these specifically, but I’m grateful for those first sessions at the curator. It has helped me react faster, both in crises and when I’ve felt lost. What I’ve learned, is not to be afraid to share even the heaviest feelings and thoughts. It’s just who I am and although not everyone struggles with similar thoughts, I’ve learned to accept that I sometimes do and that’s ok. We have the freedom to think limitlessly. Some of us analyze, think and question more than others. Don’t be afraid to let your thoughts come to you.
Since I have visited curators, psychotherapists and psychologists, I have to say, that finding the right person can’t be stressed enough. One of my best experiences was during the time I lived abroad. I only saw her for a couple of months, but she has had a huge impact on my life. I needed her right there and then. The psychologist was casual, easy going but very straight forward. She is the one I’m referring to in the beginning of this text. She gave me great advice I still use in my everyday life. But some people you click with and some you don’t. My intuition tells me right away if someone gets me or not and that’s of course crucial when it comes to therapy. My advice to you is to be critical. Don’ waste your time trying to be polite. If you don’t feel a connection- change. Search for your person you feel comfortable with to get the most out of your time, money and yourself.
I’ve also done group therapy, which I highly recommend. I was more of an observer and listener, but even that helped me a lot and I found a friend for life from that group. We still have a very special bound and a closeness I don’t have with anyone else. I highly recommend group therapy. It offers peer support and very strong and unique connections.
Many of you wrote that you recently started some form of therapy. I’m so happy to hear that and you inspired me to do the same. I promise myself to take better care of myself this year, mentally. The least I can do is to be more open and honest. Honesty is brave, but it’s also the first step for change to happen. I’m also going to search for a format that would help me with my anxiety. Because I promised my mum.
Pictures by Juuli Rönkä