“Did you know this is our 11th session?”
Is what my therapist said at our meeting today.
“That means we’re almost at the end.”
I immediately felt a pang of anxiety.
Therapy has helped me get out of a major depressive period, and for the past months challenged me to overcome my social anxiety in small steps.
My therapist has helped me take responsibility and held me accountable to my own mental health. I’m worried about how easy it is to fall into old patterns. I’m worried something I can’t control, like getting physically sick again, will make me slide right back under the comforting dark covers of depression.
Then he said something that surprised me:
“I’m not worried about you. Not because you won’t face difficult times, but because I’m certain you’re able to recognise if you’re going down a bad road and turn yourself around.”
He asked me if I felt like I’ve made progress.
My answer was that I still feel like I have a long way to go, and maybe some things will always be more challenging for me than others. But an example of something I’d recently done, that I wouldn’t even have considered earlier, is helping out at a sporting event for kids a month ago.
Because that meant I had to:
- Talk to a stranger to be added to the team of helpers
- Show up at a new place with lots of people I don’t know
- Be responsible for the kids and holding the activity
- Collaborate and be social around all these people
- Then show up again the next day, so I couldn’t just run and hide if I embarrass myself
Writing these things out make them sound so trivial, so silly. And logically speaking, it’s probably going to be just fine 99% of the times I do something like this. But anxiety isn’t logical. It’s primal, and it’s very intense. This is the reality of mental health struggles.
That’s why I’d never even consider something like this before. But I want to challenge myself. Like I’ve challenged my body-confidence.
And then my therapist surprised me again. And made me feel a little bit uncomfortable, because accepting compliments is still hard for me.
He praised me for my courage to challenge myself, to face my fears however painful. How he had known from day 1 that I was willing to step out of my comfort zone, and that unlike some patients he see, I’ve worked hard.
And this is where I’d usually think he was just saying that to make me feel better about myself so it would come true – but only because I believe in it and the added confidence that comes from that. So it’s a paradox. Or – hang on, this will be mind-blowing – it’s simply true and he wants to be sure I see it too. The fact that I still struggle with accepting compliments just shows there’s still work to be done.
And then we set a deadline for a goal I’ve been trying to accomplish for months. By the next session (in two weeks), I have to reach out to at least one old friend.
I have a handful of old friends that I miss so I much it makes me cry. But that I’ve lost contact with when my mind was telling me I was worthless and people were better off without me (glad I know better by now!).
Yet it’s still something I’ve been putting off…
.. I just need to build up a little more courage.
What’s something anxiety or worries has made you put of indefinitely? Or when was the last time you did something that scared you? Let me know in the comments (and if you could send a little courage my way, I’ll be grateful)!
Thoughts from Therapy is a series where I talk honestly about my struggle with and recovery from depression and anxiety. My hope is to promote mental health awareness and to let anyone else struggling know they’re not alone. Read previous posts.