Everything I’ve Learned In Therapy

(so far)

To round out Mental Health Awareness Month, I want to celebrate one year of therapy!!

Not long after I graduated from college, I began regularly attending therapy, and it was, by far, the best decision I’ve made in the past two years. I started going to therapy because, to be short, I was tired of hating myself and finding myself on the cusp of suicidal thoughts, which I knew would turn into something worse. I needed to nip it in the bud before things got awful because I really want to live.

My therapist, Bex (not her actual name), is phenomenal. In the past year, we’ve dove deep into my previous roommate situation, all the confusing boy drama (because I was introduced to a new depth of connection and an unfamiliar way of communication), my attachment style, and having no clue what I’m doing with my life now that I’ve graduated with a degree I don’t particularly like.

Together, we’ve worked to challenge my brain and my thought processes. I’ve become more self-aware and acceptant of how incredibly abnormal I am. Bex consistently provides a new perspective on literally everything happening in my life and encourages me to let it out every time I try to hold in the tears.

Though there’s still lots more work to do, I am proud of the growth I can see within myself. To celebrate one year of attending therapy, I wanted to share everything I’ve learned.

I need to take the knowledge I feel is wasted from my degree and use it to create something new. Over the past year, countless amounts of people have said that I could be an entrepreneur or they could see me being an entrepreneur. However, I have no idea where to start, and I want to take a moment to be a child and live, ya know? As the year passed, I’ve definitely entertained the idea more and am slowly, but surely, working to use my interior design knowledge in a different field.

Worrying about the future (like when I’ll be 45) drains your energy. Let’s see if I butcher this. Often, I found myself getting lost in my brain, which could lead to many things including continuous days of endless worrying. The worrying never led to an anxiety attack, but it did lead to me being physically drained and exhausted all the time, which is where not wanting to put on pants comes into play. As I said in a previous writing, I wear dresses when I am too physically drained to even put pants on, which is normally on those days where I worry about being there for my future Nayomi and Nayoki (still don’t know how I feel about the name Nayoki but anyway…).

“You don’t think people will be comfortable with you because you’re not comfortable with yourself.” When Bex first said this to me, I was shook. I stared at her and gaped because I felt attacked, called out, and seen all at the same time. It took a while to sit with this statement, which plays on repeat in my brain, before I started going on dates with myself. By the way, I find it to be totally acceptable to go on a date with yourself even if you’re in a romantic relationship.

My random bouts of choking are internalized panic attacks. This is something else that had me completely flabbergasted when she told me about it. Though I try to hide it, I am anxious most of the time, and my body is consistently reacting and dealing with the war in my brain. Sometimes, I randomly burst out in intense coughing fits that leave me struggling for air. I never thought anything of them, but after talking to Bex about them, it turns out it’s a delayed panic attack reaction from my body.

I shut down people who say things like “It’s okay” when I profusely apologize because I want them to think badly about me the way I think badly about myself. This is something I still battle with and am working on.

My constant crying is my body’s way of releasing things held within for years. Considering the environment of anger I was raised in, it’s better to release everything I’ve emotionally held in through tears and not violence or consistent shouting. Still, I sometimes find myself feeling bad for being an emotional mess and crying all the time. I try to remember the day we talked about it, so I know my crying is okay. I also like to think to myself “If you can’t love me at my most emotional messy self, you don’t get me at my happiest.” It’s a spin on that trend “If you don’t love me when I look my worst, you don’t deserve to see me look my best” or something like that.

I seek verbal permission and reassurance to ensure that it’s okay I exist. Oooof… yeah. This is another one that hurt, and this is another one that I’m working on.

I’ve never heard people say “Why did I make you mad?” or “You can talk to me about anything.” Hearing those things for the first time made me uncomfortable, because I’m not used to hearing them, so I choose deflection since I don’t know how to respond. I remember gaining this new perspective and realization when a connection I was developing was getting deep at a rate I am not used to. Though this person no longer talks to me, it was refreshing to hear these things and have my world opened up to a new way of communicating and connecting; now that I truly think about it, it was what verbally showing someone you care sounded like. Yes, I definitely feel bad for consistently saying people didn’t care about me when the evidence was right there. Next time I begin to establish a connection where these things are said, I will try my hardest not to deflect or spazz out, like I did this time. This is another work in progress.

PROGRESS ISN’T LINEAR. This lives in my brain every time I have a down moment at a time in life when I feel content and can’t find a reason to be having intense breakdowns. On the days when I feel ugly, both internally and externally, I have to remind myself of this statement to keep from entering a mental rabbit hole of self-hatred. These three, technically four, words are what keeps me going some days; they hold promise for a better tomorrow, even though life will never be sunshine and rainbows.

If you focus on what you’ve lost right now, there’s no way you can move forward. As I’m pretty sure I’ve stated before, I don’t do well with people leaving, especially those I feel close to, and for the first time, I’ve recently had to deal with someone leaving my life (see The First Heartbreak) but still being physically present in my day-to-day life. Considering their consistent physical presence, it became hard for me to not focus on what I lost since it somehow made its way in my line of sight. This is something I’m working through, so if I find myself in this situation again (which might not happen for a long time because my trust issues have definitely been heightened), I will know how to look and move towards the future.


Though I’m not sure if she’ll ever read this, I want to say a huge thank you to my therapist Bex. I am growing and learning and becoming a better version of myself thanks to your guidance, homework assignments, and consistently new perspectives. I’ve learned and grown so much this past year, and I am excited for all the lessons I will learn in this next year.

As I love to say, I believe everyone needs to go to therapy at some point in their lives. Sometimes all you need to help with your problems (whether you’re aware of them or not) is a third party perspective and a challenging homework assignment that has nothing to do with The Pythagorean Theorem.

about the author

Jamilah is a college graduate in her early twenties who wants to live and learn and love herself while fighting the anxiety fight.

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