Anxiety Body Image Mental Health Personal Growth

My First Therapy Appointment is Tomorrow

​I have my first therapy appointment tomorrow.

It’s not my first ever appointment, but it’s the first after six years or so without any therapy or counseling. It seems fitting to talk about my first therapy appointment on my first Clo Bare blog post, seeing as my desire to add more joy to my life is reason for both endeavors.

Part of me is relieved to have finally surrendered to the truth that I need help at this point in my life, and the other part of me is dreading the start of this journey, as if it’s a sign of relapse or weakness. 
It was a long trek last time around, and I never felt like I gained the skills I needed to deal with stress, massive life changes, and the general overwhelmingness that comes along with becoming and being an adult sometimes. 

I felt guilty for even thinking that I needed help for things like depression or anxiety because my life is good, and there is nothing outright wrong with my existence and the life I’ve built.

I’ve doubted my reasoning for going, and thought that I should just try and “toughen up” or thicken my skin, or deal with things on my own time.

Seeking therapy shouldn’t be shown as a sign of weakness, defeat, or defect. I think it’s a sign of being human, and believing otherwise stops us from advocating and nurturing our need for help.

The Isolation Masks We Wear

And this is why I’m choosing to write about it.

Depression and anxiety can look like this. It can look like cute selfies with flawless makeup and glowing skin.
It can look like lovely filtered photos of laughing friends, and goofy dogs, and perfectly placed lattes.

My social media feeds and the face I show to the world are snapshots of what I want people to see, but neither highlight the imperfections and frustrations of everyday.

​It’s barely the tip of an iceberg that is just as complicated and confusing as everyone else’s life under the surface.

Doesn’t it get exhausting?

Worrying about how well you’re coming off to the outside world? To people who know only what they see and interpret on your social media feeds?

This deep down part of me is scared that people will find out that my life is not as peachy as I make it seem, and I want to obliterate that fear.

What better way to eliminate the fear than by facing it head on, and writing on a public platform the very things that terrify me?

I don’t think we should be ashamed or afraid to say—holy crap. I’m in over my head, and I need some help navigating things right now.

There is freedom in revealing our humanity, our vulnerabilities, and our dirty dishes.

I am guilty of an Instagram feed that looks like my life is filled with rainbows, butterflies, and perfect lighting.

And I’m really tired of it.

Those fake feeds are isolating. 

They further the stigma that if you don’t have your life together at this very second, you are a failure. There are thousands of Instagram accounts that can show you just how perfect your life could be if you really tried or really wanted it.

What kind of message does that send to those who are struggling?

Seeking therapy shouldn’t be shown as a sign of weakness, defeat, or defect. I think it’s a sign of being human, and believing otherwise stops us from advocating and nurturing our need for help.

​The more we talk about it, the more normalized it becomes, and maybe someday we will all see going to a mental health clinician as ordinary as going to the dentist.

It was the kind of break that has you gasping for air, and pounding on your chest to try and relieve the pressure you feel is about to explode from you.

The Catalyst

So anyway. Back to tomorrow.

“So what brings you in?”  That inevitable question has haunted me today.

Trying to answer it causes my brain to erupt in a frenzy of thoughts, each fighting and shoving with their elbows out to be the first to leave my mouth.

I don’t know where to begin. I don’t know what’s relevant.
I don’t know what’s worth paying $20 an hour to discuss.

The realization I needed help started with a mental breakdown at the gym two weeks ago.

My boyfriend and I walked into our gym, and as we walked toward the squat bench, I caught sight of myself in one of the millions of mirrors on the lifting floor.

And I was repulsed.

Look at your arms. You see that cellulite? You see how flabby you are? You have zero muscle tone.
You look like an idiot up here trying to lift.
You obviously don’t know what you’re doing. How could you feel good about yourself yesterday?
And why would you wear that outfit? Why would you draw attention to your arms and your legs like that?
You’re an embarrassment. You should be ashamed of yourself.
I don’t know why you even try. You should just give up.
You should just give up and kill yourself because you will always be fat and worthless.

Just. Like. That.

My thoughts spiraled from “I really don’t want to do leg day” to “You are worthless and should kill yourself” in about three seconds.

But that wasn’t enough for me to stop what I was doing, and go find some source of comfort immediately.

After all, aren’t we told to use that type of disgust with yourself as motivation to change? 

So I kept going, and the thoughts got louder and louder and more creative in their insults.

When we got to the car, I broke down into uncontrollable sobs.

It was the kind of break that has you gasping for air, and pounding on your chest to try and relieve the pressure you feel is about to explode from you.

“Do you want me to drive?” My boyfriend nearly whispered. 

Without a word, I opened the door and went over to the passenger side. 

How had a trip to the gym ended with me believing I was a failure at work, at home, in my relationships, and in my social life? 

My thoughts were on full on attack mode, questioning why I couldn’t be normal and just go to the gym like everyone else, yelling at me for being a sensitive whiner with weak will and no discipline. 

On and on they went, until I started forcing myself to think “YOU ARE NOT WORTHLESS.” 

I started thinking that phrase over and over, practically yelling it in my head to fight back against the bullying cycle of shame and judgment playing out against me.

And you know what?

It worked. 

Slowly I came back down to earth. 
My breathing returned to normal. 
My blood pressure settled, and logic sank back into the places that had previously been filled with outrageous untruths.

The Appointment

And that’s what made me decide to go tomorrow. 

It’s not just the breakdown; it’s everything that led up to that breakdown. 

It’s all the stress I didn’t deal with, and the anxiety I’d shove down, and the misguided anger I’d take out on other people instead of dealing with my feelings and my issues head on. 

I’m long overdue for a tune-up. 

I want to be able to shut down these judgmental, mean thoughts the second they enter my mind. I want to gain skills and techniques for dealing with stress. 

I want to figure out what works best for keeping me sane. I want to relearn how to love myself so fiercely that these thoughts never even stand a chance. 

​I just need a little help getting there.

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