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The most important thing I would tell myself starting therapy for the first time…
Having gone through the mental health system for the last 9 years, it is pretty safe to say that I have gained some wisdom in managing my mental health. There have been moments where I have told myself “If I had just known this earlier, I probably wouldn’t be where I am now”. Of course, there is no telling where I could or may have been. I prefer to take the perspective that I got to the knowledge base I am at now because of the challenges I went through.
There is a saying I heard that I repeat often; “Grow through what you go through”. As cliché as it may sound, it is a saying that has helped me maintain a healthier perspective when challenges arise. This is the most important thing I would tell younger Lara seeking treatment for mental health. Grow through it, because in order to start the healing process, you need to ‘go through it’. By ‘it’ I am referring to the parts of myself that I kept hidden. I hid them so well; I didn’t even know they existed.
When I first entered therapy in 2010, I was confused as to why there were so many questions regarding my childhood. I didn’t want to talk about my childhood because I was convinced that I was a different person now, so talking about my childhood would just be talking about “old Lara”. My understanding was the challenges I faced at the time all had to do with the events going on right now. Right now had absolutely nothing to do with the little girl I use to be. Obviously, I had the wrong idea there. I answered the questions and came back week after week and answered more questions. There was many times I didn’t like answering some of them because I had to think about times in my life that caused me to feel sad, scared, upset, anxious, and afraid. I thought the point of therapy was to get me to feel more positively about myself so I could start to feel better and go back to work. It turns out that in order to feel better in the present, you have to go back and do a lot of work from the past (who knew!?).
It’s terrifying at first, and I felt like giving up. Instead of giving up though, I thought it would be a better idea to construct more defense mechanisms and just prolong feeling better. One of these things included lying to my Psychiatrist about drinking or using other substances (totally NOT a good idea by the way!). Of course, we went over why I lied years later, which took more work!
Now I can see that if I was honest from the beginning, I would have started to feel better instead of prolonging feeling miserable and unworthy. I see how I repeated what I wasn’t willing to repair. I had to learn to grow through the feelings I had in order to mature emotionally and go through life with a healthier mindset. I had to grow through some deep, dark, unpleasant feelings to start to feel alive again.
When you really think about it, the most beautiful things in the world have to grow through soil, which is, (literally) shit. ;)
Lara is a Registered Social Worker who has worked in the mental health field for 7 years. She is a strong advocate for awareness in mental health, addiction, and ending diet culture. She also has a strong interest in personality disorders, eating disorders, and schizophrenia. Lara started her own blog based off her lived experience in the world of addiction and mental health, and is hoping it will aid in increasing awareness for both service users and providers. In her spare time, Lara is active in her spirituality, enjoys meditation, Lady Gaga, and watching psychological thrillers.
This is a place to see shared stories and experiences submitted by young people. It represents the truth of the people who submitted their stories.