In case you were not aware, that is the Google definition of the word ‘therapy’. A word that, for the most part, I have tried to remain unfamiliar with, but recently it has cropped up once more. I used to avoid it because of the connotations it has with serious mental disorders. By accepting therapy, I would be accepting that something was wrong with me – something greater than I would admit to myself. But to me, nothing was wrong. Sure, there were times when I felt sad, but that’s the same for everyone. No one is happy all of the time.
My family gave me the nickname ‘Ice Queen’ due to my lack of emotion. It was only meant lightheartedly (as a joke that I had a frozen heart). I owned that nickname for years and never thought much of it. It wasn’t until these sad emotions arose that I realised it wasn’t necessarily a lack of emotion, I just felt empty. I could feel happy, or joyful, or a number of positive things but they would only be fleeting. They wouldn’t stay with me for very long and I would go back to feeling the void where something should have been.
It’s an odd feeling to describe. The only thing I’ve found that comes close to describing it is when you’ve been feeling hungry for such a long time that you no longer want to eat anything due to a hollow feeling in your stomach. Unless it’s only me who ever feels like that, in which case, I have no alternative description. It’s just a dull feeling where you know there should be more, but there isn’t. It’s just empty.
Then these sad emotions became more frequent and wouldn’t disappear as quickly as the positive ones did. They would keep me up at night, make me isolate myself from people and completely wear me out. Then it would pass and I would feel empty again. At first, when a bout of sadness ended it meant going back to being my normal self, but gradually the negative emotions began to settle in.
It wasn’t until one night a little over a year ago that the feelings became too much and I ended up hurting myself. Still, I didn’t think anything was wrong, or rather, not severe enough that I would need to consider seeking a ‘professional’ to talk to. I had supportive friends who I could discuss my feelings with. Besides, it was a one off.
But the feelings were still there, even though they did lay low for a short time after. I was determined to tell myself it was nothing to be concerned with. So much so that throughout last summer I was constantly doing stupid things which I told myself would prove that I could be happy. It resulted in some of the biggest mistakes of my life. And the mixture of empty sadness never left.
Shortly thereafter, it happened again. This time I couldn’t brush it off so easily and the word ‘therapy’ bounced around like a ping-pong ball. I still didn’t think it was necessary, but to appease those who were concerned about me, I made an appointment. To me, it still seemed silly to put myself in that situation. If they asked how I was feeling, I would say, “I’m fine thanks. How are you?” I had nothing to say except that sometimes I felt sad. It would just be a waste of their time, so I cancelled my appointment.
At least, that’s what I told myself. The truth was, I was scared. I was scared of what would happen if I did go to therapy. I was anxious about meeting a stranger and having to talk to them, especially about my feelings which are something I’m generally quite private about anyway. I was terrified of the word ‘depression’ and was already struggling to accept my anxiety which I had been trying to get to grips with for a few years already. I ended up closing myself off. I don’t remember how I reached that decision; it seemed to come naturally. In a way, it worked for a short while. I didn’t have anywhere near as drastic periods of sadness, but the consequence was that I scarcely felt happiness either.
Recently, it collapsed, but this time I wasn’t going to be scared anymore.
I realise now, that was a mistake. Feeling something is better than feeling nothing, and feeling something negative, as I was before, can be helped by talking to someone – someone capable of aiding you through what is happening. It is scary, and it means admitting things to yourself that you might find hard to accept. It’s not easy and it can be a long process, but it will be worth it.
Treatment intended to heal or relieve a disorder.
That’s all it is. It is no different than getting a doctor’s prescription to treat something physical. My anxiety does make it more difficult to even make a doctor’s appointment, but when I need to, I manage to overcome it. Therefore, I can get it to back off to see a therapist, too.
It’s just making that first step to open up the door to something more positive.