I hope you are well.
I never thought I would be glad to be writing a post about Therapy, but you know what that shows… growth! Earlier this year I got the point where I just had enough of feeling sorry myself, being overwhelmed with anxiety, and simply just not recognising myself. I had gotten to a place where I had so many insecurities that a simple journey to and from work would have my heart racing, comparing myself to every single woman I walked past, how draining.
Growing up like any other human being I had my challenges and insecurities, but through it, I was always bubbly, full of life and ALWAYS laughing. How I began to feel about myself in more recent years meant that I was deprived of simple moments I could just be happy in. I always knew self-love was valuable but this year I realised, it is CRUCIAL to love yourself in order to navigate life. It impacts your relationships, your career, your development, your social life, and skills… anything you can think of really. Through it all, it’s important you get to the place where you decide ENOUGH is ENOUGH. For me, that was when I decided to gift myself the greatest act of self-love. I simply decided I was going to stop crying (it’s okay to cry) and start trying.
Enough is enough but what next? I knew I needed to express how I was feeling and as much as I believe those around me love and care for me, people go through their own things and it was not their burden to carry. I needed to dig deep and really uproot these insecurities. So as a Christian one of the things that was weighing on me was the lack of relationship with God, so I felt I needed a shift. I decided I was going to move church… but as a “Pastor’s Child” that was a whole battle on its own and a whole other blog post too. Anyway, I began searching for a new church.
I knew God would guide me but I also knew I needed professional help. I had tried to get help through the NHS a few months back and had heard nothing and as much as I did not have the spare cash lying around I decided to go private. I began doing research on the type of therapy I thought would be best for me. I opted for a form of Psychotherapy called humanistic therapies – which encourages you to think about yourself more positively and aim to improve your self-awareness, whilst also being able to explore the triggers of the negative thinking. I used counselling-directory.org.uk to find a therapist that would be close to home. I knew I really wanted to speak to a black woman specifically, as I suspected they would better be able to understand myself and my life experiences.
I knew that in the hope of finding a church that fulfilled my needs and finding a good therapist, I would still need to do my own work from deep inside. So this was little things from, taking social media breaks, reading articles and blog posts online that would encourage me and teach new things about dealing with and changing how I was feeling.
After loads of trial and error and making an agreement with my parents to attend their church once a month, I have found a church that really makes me excited to go there and less than a 15-minute drive away from my house. One of the things I really wanted was a sense of community and even though I still don’t talk to many people at the church I feel a sense of belonging and focus. There is no familiarity, so when I go to church it’s just me and God and I can really go there to just have that me and God time. I have learned so much and I am excited about what is to come.
I found a therapist who was based less than a 10-minute walk away from my house. And guess what? A black woman! I remember going to my first session not knowing what to expect but determined not to cry. When she began asking me simple questions I welled up very quickly and began to cry. I knew this exactly what I needed. I needed to let all those tears out because it had been clogging my system for so long. I was in therapy for just under 5 months, after that first session I probably only cried in one other session. Sometimes I even questioned if it was working because there were still low lows while I was in therapy but something that remained consistent in the articles I was reading is that this is a journey and things can get better it’s just going to need a lot of being intentional. So when I would feel thoughts creeping up that would take me in the wrong direction, I would remind myself of something encouraging my therapist had said, slowly this began to transition into my own voice as I finally started believing good things about myself. Through my time in therapy my faith came up and I noticed my therapist would sometimes even quote me scriptures. Wow… she was a Christian too. It probably was not “best practice” for her to show me that but boy did this help. I knew I wanted someone who understood my struggles and she REALLY DID, and for that reason, she was able to ask me the RIGHT questions and say the right things. I did not always feel like spewing my guts so she was able to use a range of methods with me, we did exercises, used cards, imagery… you name it. Sometimes it felt silly at first but I always left with a spring in my step giving me that glimpse of self-belief that I so desperately needed.
During all of this, I was doing a lot of me work. I was trying to remove things from my life that impacted me negatively. A social media detox here and there was so crucial. As much I believe social media is not a “bad” thing, I think when you are in a certain headspace it certainly is more likely to have a negative impact on your mental health than a positive one, so why take the risk? So what do you do with all your spare time? READ READ READ. I read so many articles on self-esteem, self-talk, personality types, and anxiety, believe it or not, it’s some really interesting stuff. Not only did it remove the feeling of loneliness knowing I was not the only one experiencing these things, but it also gave me a sense of hope; Reading stories of people who have felt exactly how I have felt and now can truly love themselves. I learned so many little skills and tools that I use subconsciously in my everyday life that have made such a huge impact.
You Can Do It Too
I am a long way off from perfect but I am sooooo overwhelmed with joy to say I am better. I am bubbly again and I laugh more often. I mean, I still cringe at pictures of myself but at least I am even taking them. I have made leaps of progress and if no one even notices, my spirt does. I don’t feel so heavy any more, I don’t feel unstable, I don’t feel like at any given moment I can burst into tears. A lot of people including myself feel like these changes happen when… you lose all the weight, you get that big pay rise and promotion, you get that relationship, you get recognition. Fact is not much changed in my “outside life” yet I wake up so much happier. Your “inside life” is so much more important, and trust me, it impacts the way good things are drawn to you in your outside life. That confidence means, I enjoy the gym more now rather than just seeing it as torture, I perform better and have better relationships at work, my romantic relationship is no longer anxiety-inducing and I just live more in the present moment.
If you are facing anything similar, you can do it too. Start the work today.
“If you are not happy with something, you should change it. So I went to a lot of therapy, and finally, I am able to speak up for myself…” – Katy Perry
“Learning how to love myself and my body is a lifelong process. But I definitely don’t struggle the way I used to. Therapy helped me realise that maybe it’s okay for me to communicate my feelings. Instead of literally stuffing them down with food, maybe it’s okay for me to express myself.” – Kerry Washington