This is going to be hard to write, talk about, and read. But that doesn’t mean that I am not going to post it. Many of you may have questions, and I will try my best to answer them. But first let me say how thankful and privileged I am to be in the position I am in. I am young, white, physically able and have access to a heath-care system that can support me with the therapy I need when I ( finally got up the nerve to ) ask for it.
For 2 years now I have been attending bi-weekly 50 minute psychological in-person therapy sessions with a professional Med. Dr. ( while speaking in German to boot ! )
Not because of Covid, ( although this may have contributed at some point ) Not because of a specific depression. Not because of anxiety. But because of so many factors combined, factors that I am still trying to figure out myself. These mainly have to do with stopping and recognize certain emotions when they arise.
- Then listening to these emotions,
- hearing what they have to say,
- making space for them,
- taking time for them,
- speaking ( or crying ) through them,
- finding their source,
- and then finally accepting the outcome.
For so many years ( probably 15 + ) my emotions seemed to stay hidden. ” I am strong, and able and wish to solve everything alone ” says my ego! But I am not. Not one is! We need each others help and support and love and understanding. We need to be told we are wanted, and needed and loved and desired and, and, and … Without this, well, we are not our best or strongest selves. No matter how hard we try to be !
Anyone who knows me well, knows me as a crier. Weddings, funerals, births, deaths, natural disasters, beautiful song lyrics, Disney films, Gilmore Girls episodes, and Hallmark cards all make me tear up. And don’t get me started on the series This is Us. This is one if the hardest for me to get through! I used to tell myself it is because I feel so deeply ( which I still think is true ) but now I realize it is my bodies way of release. Other ways my body releases its stress that I discovered during this journey are:
- tears, hormonal imbalances, histamine intolerance, vitamin D deficiency, stress acne, an uncontrollable bladder and insomnia.
For so many years it didn’t release what it was feeling. I would wake up in a bad mood ( and sometimes I still do ! ) and stay that way, fighting through it for however long necessary. So when the chance arose to let go ( and emotional tears were appropriate for the setting ) and I managed to release, I did so with my bodies exit strategies. It is only now, through therapy, that I am learning what those “FEELINGS” mean. And I can finally speak about them, through them, and place them to an emotion. Like :
- deep love
- unease about the future
- environmental anxiety
- language stress
- motherhood pressure
- anti-racism feelings
- expat uneasiness
- family pressure
- egotistical hate
- and many more …
Many of you make be thinking. But Andrea, you are usually smiling and happy and helpful and cooking and photographing and busy doing cool things! Yes this is me, but everyone has many sides, and many thoughts, and many strengths, but also weakness’! And these are some of mine. I can probably count of one hand the amount of people in front of whom I have broken-down in tears and sobs and unspoken wails. ( You know who you are and thank you ! ) And for the rest of you, well, there comes a time for everything.
Why am I sharing this you may ask? Why am I sitting here in my living room on a sunny day with red puffy eyes typing away? I am doing so because I am a helper, no matter the circumstance, and I want to know that even on my painful crying days, my feelings, words and thoughts may help you too. I never thought therapy could/would be helpful or possible for me ( the German general healthcare system covers the financial cost of a lot of sessions per year, WHO KNEW! ) but here I am, years in and feeling so much stronger, clearer, and deeper than I ever have felt before.
Most days it was hard to attend these sessions. But each time I exited the room I found myself lighter, thinking clearer, with the golf balls in my head in there proper hole. Sometimes I was smiling from cheek to cheek, sometimes wiping my red eyes. And now that I have completed my 60 hours. And am starting to approach these things on my own, I am learning more about myself then I even have before.
I still struggle with handling these feelings. Some nights my brain ( I call it my constant radio station ) will not slow down and take a break. It worries about friends, or the environment, or my family, or my bank account, or sometimes just can not stop singing a Beyoncé song. But now I just accept it. And use the tools I know I have to work through the feelings until they pass. These include:
- Yoga & Deep Stretching
- Deep Long Breathing Exercises
- Journaling my thoughts without thinking
- Watching Comedy Clips
- Dancing with my eyes closed
- Listening to my favourite songs
- Resting my hands on my body, or giving myself a massage
- Cooking my favourite dish
- Singing aloud with my head high
- Taking a walk under the trees or next to the water
- Blogging my Thoughts or Photographing Nature
- Cleaning my House :)
- Tending to My Garden ( the one with the veggies, not my internal one )
- Reading a Good Book
- Calling a Friend
- Visiting a Museum
- Writing down to-do Lists and Actions I will take next
- Etc Etc .
If you to are not sure where or when or how to talk about things that bounce around in your head like golf balls, therapy may be for you. It doesn’t mean you are crazy, or sick, or less strong of a person. It just means that you care. You care enough about yourself and others to take the time to talk ( or cry ) in front of a professional, and work through whatever it is you may be feeling, in your own time, in a safe space. Regularly, scheduled, not in a public space, not in your own home, or somewhere that other people may see or hear you. But somewhere neutral, with someone neutral, having a conversional about yourself. A CLEAR SAFE SPACE. I spent many many years not talking about myself, and this is the first time that I have taken the time. Exactly 60 hours to be be exact. To just talk about myself, and the issues that I was facing. And it took me over 30 years to do so.
PLEASE Contact your health-care provider ( or check out their website ), make an appointment with your general practitioner, or even research an online therapy service like BetterHelp in order to start your journey to a happier, healthier, and emotionally stabiler daily life. For me, THE HARDEST PART was making the phone call, and trust me, no matter how hard it was to do, I am so happy I made that choice to do so. Finding Balance, and remembering that every day is not going to be a good day, is a great way to acceptance. As long as the good days outway the bad days, you are doing LIFE right !
GOOD LUCK! and remember, you are never to old, to young, or whatever else TO ASK FOR HELP. This was the biggest lesson that I learned.
Thanks for reading, Andrea