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People often think therapy is an immediate, easy solution. You lie on a couch and dictate your feelings to a doctor writing on a notepad. After a few sessions, your life is back on track. But that image is no longer the case in modern therapy – and the simplicity of it never was. Therapy today is diverse, highly individualized and, for me, one of the hardest experiences I’ve ever undergone. Yes, it’s immensely helpful. But it’s not all rainbows and butterflies.
To be honest, the first year wasn’t bad. I was a 14-year-old who didn’t really understand what was going on. The sessions were more like an after-school program, where the therapist and I would talk and work on different activities. After a year, my anxiety became manageable and I stopped going. It wasn’t until a couple years later that it resurfaced in a much more painful form.
I waited until my last year of college to start going back to therapy, for reasons that could fill up a post of its own. Instead of the casual experience I remembered from my youth, it was intense; I felt incredibly vulnerable and, per a long process, had to uncover layers of myself to work through the issues I was facing.
It involved bringing up memories from childhood onward; experiences and feelings I had tried to hide away, but were subconsciously affecting my schoolwork, relationships and overall health. There were many, many tears, and tough decisions I had to make to prioritize my self-care.
I say this not to deter anyone from going to therapy, but to understand that it takes real work. Just like treating any other medical condition, there can be multiple rounds of trial and error, and effort needed on your part. And trust me, it’s well worth it.