• nailahmutheu

My experience with therapy

Updated: Mar 27, 2020

Therapy (n): an opportunity to explore and adjust your internal world so that you can create the world you want around you.

There is so much stigma around therapy; especially in the African society. You can casually tell someone you're going to the gym and it's okay but when you say something like, "I just came from therapy" it raises so many questions. Even if not verbal questions, so many thoughts cross ones mind after that statement.

It means you have strength. It means you are courageous. It means you are brave. It means you are self-aware and open to new experiences. It means you are willing to go deeper and learn about yourself and your individual needs. It means you are willing to embrace the vulnerability and heal from your past traumas. Ultimately, it means you love yourself.

We are all familiar with the phrase, "God helps those who help themselves."

Prayer without action is powerless. Why not seek therapy as an action step to help you overcome some of the things you've been praying about? Going to therapy doesn't mean you trust God any less. Therapy can help you identify and learn to manage emotional challenges and gain insight to how your childhood, environment and other life experiences shaped your personality, perspective, relationships and how you interact with others. Let's do away with the idea that if we see a therapist we don't have faith in God or that we have to choose between going to therapy and our faith.

Quotes and wisdom nuggets aside, I'm the biggest therapy/mental health advocate. I've been going for therapy since 2016 and I've seen the impact it has had on my mental health which translated to my general well-being. I've had to unlearn things that I was rooted in, unhealthy coping mechanisms...etc. and learn effective ways of communicating, how to apologize, acknowledging and allowing vulnerability... the list goes on. I've learned things about myself that were hard to come to terms with but my will to become a better version of myself overpowered that. I've gotten through situations I never thought I would. I've grown in ways I never imagined possible.

Therapy is not an overnight transformation, it's a constant work in progress. You're constantly peeling layers of self awareness as you learn more about yourself.

When I started therapy, it was out of desperation. Something that I'd been trying to ignore/suppress for 2 years kept presenting itself in my every day life and my head was a mad house. I needed an outlet. An outlet that wouldn't just offer advice, sympathy or a shoulder to cry on but an outlet that felt secure, an outlet that was judgment free, an outlet that was a safe space, an outlet where I could be as raw as humanly possible. This outlet for me was therapy. I knew nothing about finding/picking the right therapist. I went through the list of therapists that were on my medical cover at the time and called each one of them to book an appointment but I only showed up for one. Having not thought things through, my first session was an outburst of so many things and my emotions were all over. From my outburst, my therapist and I were able to come up with a list of things to tackle over time. After a couple of sessions, I thought I was "cured" (for lack of a better word) and ditched therapy. I had it in my head that I no longer needed therapy and I was able to handle whatever curve ball life threw at me. For a while, I was okay and when I wasn't, I picked up some horrible coping mechanisms which convinced me that I was doing pretty well. Then one day I snapped out of it. I was tired of what had become a pattern/routine because it was all so temporary and draining. I went back to my safe space and I'm rooted there. Sometimes I need a session once every week, sometimes once a month, sometimes twice a week and sometimes once in 3 months. It's nourishing It's healing. It's free-ing. I love it. Given my amateur way of looking for a therapist, I was blessed to land in the hands of the best person ever. I'm constantly grateful for her.

Shameless plug - if you're looking for a therapist, email or DM me and I'll be happy to share my therapists contacts with you.

There are so many things I could have done differently as from my first session but I had no idea where to get information from. Mental health is not a topic many people want to openly discuss in Kenya but that's slowly changing. For example, Dr. Karen is a Kenyan psychologist who demystifies psychology on her YouTube channel. She offers the type of information I wish I knew before I began therapy but I'm still learning from her; both things that may directly affect me and those that don't. It doesn't hurt to know more than you need; you never know who in your life could need it or may be affected by it. She also has the warmest personality and responds to DMs on Instagram.

You don't have to be going through "it" to see a therapist. Here are a few pointers to get you there;

Be kind to your mind :)

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