Let’s talk about therapy. Not the physical kind. The talking kind. The emotional kind. Seeing a counselor, therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist often comes with a stigma attached to it. We grow up in a society that believes if you need to “pay someone to listen to you talk about your feelings” that there clearly must be something wrong with you. Even that phrase, “something wrong with you” implies how we qualify emotions- how we label some emotions and the people who experience them as “good” and as “bad”.
I’ve been unpacking a lot of things with my therapist for about ten years now. Patterns of thinking that are unhealthy, trauma, old coping mechanisms that do more harm than good; the brain is smart and sneaky in the ways it helps us survive. However, if you can get out of the trenches, it’s important to achieve self-awareness. To figure out how to tell our brains when we are safe, and it’s time to not just survive, but to thrive.
Becoming emotionally and mentally healthy can be challenging. It becomes much more complicated when you add chronic illness to it. When I first started therapy, I would literally take the rest of the day off to recover physically from where I went emotionally. It was hard and scary and exhausting. And yet so incredibly invaluable. I understand my relationship with myself and those around me so much better. My relationships are authentic, with depth and trust. Despite a failing body, my emotional quality of life is the healthiest and most fruitful it’s ever been.
Knowing myself has been a significant tool in my emotional tool box when dealing with doctors and various kinds of boundaries. Physical and emotional medical trauma is real- and it never gets talked about. There are lots of things I can’t change about my body/physical health. But I give myself the gift of emotional health whenever possible, allowing myself to hold both the darkness and the light- and everything in between. Without judgment and with grace.