I think that we should talk about mental issues in public. Especially in the era of a global pandemic which causes many mental problems, and the worst thing we can do is to leave people in their four silent walls.
Those physical walls built with bricks and concrete can quickly become transparent — you will bring them with you even if you leave your flat. The transparent walls will stay with you and isolate you from society in every place you are.
This post is quite personal and subjective. It is by no means a story of someone who has “caught up” and now have a successful life because — thanks to psychotherapy — he has assessed his fears, corrected misinterpretations of the surrounding world, he has found peace, and has regained his self-confidence.
This is not the story of how I became a winner.
If you prefer to read something simply objective, there are a lot of resources on the internet.
Why did I decide to write this?
I felt the need to share my thoughts on psychotherapy when, after less than months of regular meetings with the therapist, we reached the source of my problems, the Gordian knot in my personality, which I now have to address. In short: after three months of spending money talking about myself, I’m just beginning to see the real sense of that.
But most of all, I hope that this post will help someone consider therapy if, like me, he is convinced that he would deal with his inner demons on his own. That the fears, outbursts of aggression, and alienation would be like the dark side of the force for the Sith Lord.
What is the most challenging part of psychotherapy?
It’s that time when you just talk and don’t see anything resulting from these conversations. Especially if someone — like me — has difficulty with trust in the people he depends on and always wants to see the results of what he does quickly.
Therapy is not a sprint, nor is it a half-marathon. Most often, it is an ultra marathon. In the mountains. And in winter.
I found myself at a stage in my life where I had to trust the therapist because yet another severe burnout resulted in yet another sudden departure from yet another job.
The hardest part, however, is to admit your weaknesses and fears to yourself. Opening myself to a sense of helplessness when I do not try to mask them, transfer them to the environment, and run away.
So why is psychotherapy calming for me?
For people from the IT industry: These weekly meetings with the therapist are almost precisely what in Scrum are the sprint retrospective and review. We can assure ourselves that we are going in the right direction with the project and changes or mistakes do not cause high costs.
For ordinary people: during the sessions, we talk about how I felt during the week, what I did, what I have been able to apply from the conclusions drawn during the therapy in my everyday life. I share situations where I feel that I have not “got it”, I share my thoughts about why this happened.
Even if I lose control again, I get an anxiety attack. If my self-esteem drops dramatically, it’s easier for me to accept it by writing down what and why happened to discuss it during the session and perhaps react differently in similar circumstances in the future.
Such a retrospective (or turning it into specific actions) is much, much more difficult when you try to do it yourself.
The critical thing for me is that my therapist does not judge me nor tell me if I am doing something wrong or right. I have to draw my own conclusions. The therapist gives me a lot of contextual information, different perspectives and inspires me to think.
These ‘iterations’ give me a real sense of progress and change — a small step method that leaves traces.
And finally, I don’t feel guilty when I throw out a stream of thought because I am dealing with a person I will not hurt in the end.
You are not alone
At the end of the day, you have someone who sees those transparent walls made of your fear, anxiety, and shame and can help you to open windows and doors and how to fill your inner space with calm.