THERAPY IS essentially an exercise that facilitates self-love and self-care. It teaches you acceptance of your here and now. It makes you mindful of who you are and how you can get along well with yourself. In your therapist’s presence, you can be yourself without fearing judgment, ridicule, rejection and neglect. You will be helped out of difficult emotional states, so you can function better in your day to day. However, it is important to know what not to expect from therapy.
THERAPY IS NOT like outsourcing your troubles to someone who understands them better, so they can solve them for you, rewire your brain for optimal functioning and you can be good to go out into the bitter world outside. It is simply a treatment like any other. You have to engage with it, just like your body engages with antibiotics. The fewer unrealistic expectations we attach to this process, the better.
THERAPY IS NOT a replacement for family and/or friends. The relationship with a therapist can be comforting but it can also trick you into believing that you don’t need anybody else in life because you have someone who understands you one hundred percent. Like I had shared in a previous blog post, depression came with a sense of victimhood. The victimhood also played out in my relationship with the therapist. At first, I would dial them every time I felt I was spiralling. A good therapist never encourages dependence; their training and experience teach them how to make patients independent. I accepted over time that therapy could not be my answer to every trigger; I had to develop a secondary mechanism to help myself.
THERAPY IS NOT a substitute for medication, a healthy lifestyle, proper diet and sleep. When I started therapy, it felt like discovering the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle that was holding my happiness at ransom. Well, a few months into therapy made me get over this feeling. Therapy did not take away my need for mood stabilisers, Vitamin B and D, and definitely did not provide all the exercise and sleep my body needed.
THERAPY IS NOT like reading the encyclopedia of your life. Don’t give up on your awareness of yourself, thinking you have it all wrong and only a psychotherapist can make sense of who you really are. I bombarded my therapist with questions about myself, demanded answers on why I was wired the way I was, why I was thinking/feeling/behaving the way I was. Chase awareness, not answers. Awareness is hard to stay with. You have to keep circling back to it and try to stay near it; it takes a lot of practice.
Disclaimer: Psychotherapy is extremely unique to every individual and CAN NOT be generalised. This blog post is merely intended to convey that if it helped me in some way, I recommend you consider it for yourself if you need to. Do not read into it with a personal checklist and think, oh this is exactly what I needed and this is how it will pan out for me as well. It doesn’t work that way. That is also why you should give it a shot. Discover your unique journey with it; your journey of healing will be so much richer with therapy.
Written by Nishtha Singhal