Ah, therapy. We hear about it A LOT nowadays which is awesome but on one hand can be quite intimidating, like, where do we even begin?!
If you’re from the UK like me then you essentially have two options when it comes to therapy, you can either speak to you GP and ask them to refer you or you can find a therapist privately and pay for your sessions. Both are great options depending on your financial situation but wait times can be a little lengthy if you go via your GP. At the end of this post I’ll share some of the alternatives to going via your GP so you can hopefully find a therapist within your budget.
I should start my story by saying that I went to therapy for the first time years ago, I’m now 29 and I think my first therapy session was maybe about 8 years ago. I’d had my first real panic attack on a train journey heading to my job at the time and it freaked me out. I didn’t know what it was, I thought I was dying and I just HAD to get off the train. I left the station and called my mum, she took me straight to the doctors and that was where I learnt all about my anxiety disorder and what panic attacks were.
Unfortunately what followed was a series of bad anxiety attacks – these are slightly different to panic attacks in that they’re slow burning and they don’t really dissipate unless you force them to. My worries were predominantly health related, I became a hypochondriac and convinced myself that I had every life-threatening disease on the planet. The truth is, my first visit with a therapist wasn’t great. I went to a couple of sessions and we didn’t click (but this is OK and i’ll tell you why later) but I persisted and in the end I dreaded going each week and cancelled.
I didn’t attend a therapy session after that for years, that was until my first therapy session in my new town a couple of years ago. Don’t get me wrong though, my anxiety hadn’t disappeared in-between sessions, it was still there and in hindsight I should have persisted with sessions elsewhere. In the years that had passed I’d developed coping mechanisms and habits that I’m now working my butt off to kick but hey, I can’t really change that so let’s work with the here and now.
I’d be lying if I said that therapy had been easy. It’s definitely been eye-opening and I’ve learnt so much about who I am as a person and what’s made me the person I am today. What that can also do though is open up a lot more questions and things to think about but I’ve now learnt that it’s an ongoing journey. Life can throw things at you at any time, it can bring up traumas from the past and the simplest thing can remind you of that feeling/situation and put you right back there, that’s why pushing on with therapy is so important. Even if i don’t go weekly anymore I schedule a session every other week or once a month to check in and discuss anything I’ve struggled with in particular.
What I’ve found the most helpful thing from therapy is that it grounds me almost instantly. Being sat in front of someone (whether that be in person or virtually at the moment due to ‘rona) and opening up can help you feel like a weight has been lifted, I guess that old saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ has some truth in it after all!
Therapy also reminds you that you that you care; about yourself, about your loved ones. You’re working on yourself in addition to all the other bajillion things you have on your plate, like work, relationships, home life etc. You’re killing it and that’s something to be proud of. You’re not festering and letting your problems control you, you’re gaining control back. It can be tough to get to that place and trust me, I’ve festered, I’ve done plenty of festering but there always comes a time when I tell myself I’ve gotta get back to therapy.
I appreciate this post has been long so I’m going to continue it another day in a follow up post to talk a little more about techniques and what i’ve learned from my sessions personally to help me with my generalised anxiety disorder.
If you’re considering therapy then in the first instance reach out to your GP or search for NHS services in your area for support. If you’re interested in private counselling then there are a number of places you can look to suit your budget;