23 People's Experiences With Therapy And Mental Illness
"I feel so much lighter not having to fight every thought."
We recently asked the BuzzFeed Community how their experience with therapy has helped them cope with their mental illness. Here's what they shared.
1. "It helps me build myself a more solid foundation on realistic thoughts."
"Depression lies. It tells me I'm worthless and useless and unlovable, and those thoughts give me chronic suicidal ideations. I share these thoughts with my therapist and she helps me to understand that what I'm experiencing is purely biochemical and that they do not represent my reality. We talk about why I have these thoughts and how to stop them and it's been helpful for me – when I'm in the midst of an episode – to tell myself that even though I have these thoughts, they are not real.
"It's very difficult to catch myself thinking this way and stop myself, but when I do, it's a real 'aha' moment and helps me build myself a more solid foundation on realistic thoughts."
– Beth Propeck, Facebook
2. "It has taught me that I can't expect my problems to be fixed on their own."
"I thought I would go to my therapist and have her automatically fix my problems just by me talking to her. Therapy has taught me that I can't expect my problems to be fixed on their own. I need to work to get them out of my life, and that's not always easy at all. But in the end it's worth it."
– Bethany Wilson, Facebook
4. "My therapist spoke to me like I was a person just like him; he made me feel human again."
"My therapist helps me to see that I am not a bad person or crazy. I'm starting to piece myself back together after years of people telling me I was less than them just because I am disabled and have difficulties that come with it. He spoke to me like I was a person just like him; he made me feel human again."
5. "I am so much better at turn-taking in conversations, recognizing nonverbal cues, and interpreting tone and pitch."
"When I was a child, I was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, which makes it much harder for me to learn the things most people don't think about and can pick up with little instruction, such as hygiene and social skills. I have never had a problem with my physical speech, but in high school it was recommended that I enter speech pullouts with the speech language pathologist.
"At first I wasn't sure what I was doing in her classroom, but it turns out all of the writing assignments given to me and conversations we had taught me the parts of speech unrelated to physical speaking. I was learning what is known as 'pragmatics' – the social skills of speech. These are things most people don't have to consciously think about, and even at 22, four years after high school and three years after my last lesson, I stop to interpret my bosses' gestures and comments every now and then.
"I can't really tell anybody how I changed, but if you knew me beforehand, I am so much better at things like turn-taking in conversations, recognizing nonverbal cues, and interpreting tone and pitch. Without one of my favourite teachers, I wouldn't be who I am today."
7. "My therapist is the only one that really tried to go inside my head, but on my time, in baby steps."
"After going through seven psychologists, I met my latest one a year ago, and can finally say I am starting to live. She's the only one that really tried to go inside my head, but on my time, in baby steps. If I am just too nervous or begin to cry out of the blue, she diverts the topic to funny things from her past, just to make me laugh. I'm grateful for the way she's helped me out of the dark place in mind I’ve always lived in."
8. "It was a great way to become accountable for my mental health."
"A year into university I was failing all my classes, crying every weekend, and never eating, so I finally went to therapy. Individual therapy was nice, but group therapy is what really changed me. I got to talk to people my age who all had similar fears as me, and realised it wasn't something to be ashamed of. My goal for the first week was to 'eat three meals a day for three days this week', which was hard for me at the time.
"Having to go back to therapy the week after and report whether I had met my goal or not encouraged me to do it because I don't like to let other people down. It was a great way to become accountable for my mental health, and I am so happy and healthy now."
10. "I can recognize my triggers and warning signs before things get out of control."
"When I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder, I was so scared because I had no idea how to identify the behaviours and moods that weren't normal. I was just coming out of my most dangerous manic episode and I didn't know how to control my thoughts and actions. Therapy has helped me identify thought and mood patterns so I can recognize my triggers and warning signs before things get out of control."
11. "I've learnt how to cope in harsh situations and how to terminate toxic relationships."
"My psychologist helped me tune into myself and taught me how to mentally, emotionally, and physically look after myself. I've learnt how to cope in harsh situations and how to terminate toxic relationships. I graduated high school last year as the top student and have a stable job and the best friends and family I could ask for. I'm going on 16 months since my last admission and without my psychologist's help, I probably would not be in the positive situation I am now, let alone be alive."
12. "I'm ready to train my brain to connect with my feelings so I can really let go of the past."
"Two months into the therapy, I am now slowly accepting the fact that I am traumatised from the childhood abuse I experienced. The experience lasted for so long that my brain decided to block my ability to feel. I am learning to develop an awareness of the present with the help of my therapist, and I'm ready to train my brain to connect with my feelings so I can really let go of the past."
14. "It felt nice to finally be validated for the way I was feeling and to have answers."
"Growing up I constantly felt sick but I just thought that's what life was. It wasn't until somebody asked me if anxiety was a possibility that I realized I should not feel sick every day. My mother didn't believe I had anxiety but agreed to take me to see a doctor anyway. My therapist confirmed that I have severe anxiety and this alone took a large weight off of me.
"It felt nice to finally be validated for the way I was feeling and to have answers. Now I take medication and only see my therapist once a month, but it is thanks to him that I can cope with life easier."
16. "I feel so much lighter not having to fight every thought."
"After going through numerous therapists, I was finally diagnosed with autism so I now have a therapist that specialises in that. My therapist makes me feel understood and it gives me the strength to work on understanding myself and allowing myself to embrace who I am. No more fighting every thought. I feel so much lighter not having to deal with that anymore. I still have problems, it's not a magic solution, but I feel like I have taken a big step forward and I can’t wait to continue."
– Erika Drewke, Facebook
17. "I leave feeling refreshed and hopeful about my future."
"Therapy allows me to take my own thoughts and get another opinion from a person outside of the situation. Having clinical depression can really twist your thoughts after a while and having someone let me know what's right and wrong in my thinking really helps. For me, it's like going to confessional: I leave feeling refreshed and hopeful about my future. Having someone to talk to and listen to you is so worth it."
19. "It changed the way I think and interact daily."
"I have borderline personality disorder and I went through dialectical behaviour therapy. DBT didn't solve all my problems but it changed the way I think and interact daily. I haven't self-harmed since I started DBT and hardly even have urges anymore."
20. "There is nothing in the world that felt better than walking in that room knowing that those women understood what I was going through."
"I am a childhood sexual assault survivor and have PTSD and anxiety. I did individual therapy, medication, and group therapy in my late twenties. Group therapy saved my life.
"The feeling of being supported by women who went through similar experiences was incredible. You get to say the awful things that go on in your head out loud, and get love and support from people who feel the same as you. There is nothing in the world that felt better than walking in that room knowing that those women understood, truly understood, what I was going through.
"On the days when I wanted the whole world to know what happened, on the days that shame and guilt was overwhelming, and on the day that pride and acceptance of myself was finally achievable, those women were with me. Also, the feeling that I was helping others in their healing process was a huge emotional boost. I stayed in touch with my group after it ended three years ago, and we still reach out to support each other when going through tough times."
22. "It challenged the deranged argument that had implanted itself in my brain: that it was my fault."
"My therapist used trauma narrative to help alleviate my anxiety, sadness, and regret. Trauma narrative, in essence, is used to help organize thoughts and memories, the feelings that belong to those memories, and ultimately learn how to manage one's mental health in regards to those ordeals. Therapy challenged my thoughts. My therapist would do this by asking questions like, 'Is this 100% accurate? And if it is, is it helpful for you?' This inevitably challenged the deranged argument that had implanted itself in my brain: that it was my fault. In the long run, therapy taught me mindfulness exercises, to keep me in the present, never in the past, and never in my trauma."
23. "I have been able to make friends, have serious relationships, and try new things."
"My disorder caused me to seem apathetic to outsiders and kept me from having a normal teenage experience. In the beginning it was hard to open up to someone. I made any excuse to stay as vague as possible and I knew it was frustrating for everyone around me, but when I did start to open up it was so helpful. My therapist has seen me through so many ups and downs and thanks to her, I have been able to make friends, have serious relationships, and try new things.
"Now, I volunteer with young people who are suffering through similar disorders and I also speak to their parents about how to help manage it."
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.