What Therapy Has Done For Me
Image Taken From: Intersectional Life Counseling
For generations, therapy has been stigmatized. It was viewed as something you wanted to avoid at all costs. In the past few years, more open conversations about mental illness and seeking treatment are occurring. Regardless of first impressions, therapy is overall helpful. Amidst the current pandemic, many have found themselves struggling mentally with online school and quarantine. Many of my peers who were once bright, motivated students have found themselves failing classes and experiencing symptoms of depression. Unfortunately, getting treatment through therapy isn’t always accessible more so now since the pandemic hit. Many students (including myself) had even relied on support groups or counselors provided through the school.
I began noticing a decline in my mental health back in October 2019. I was no longer keeping up with my classes & I began to neglect my basic needs. I was fortunate enough to start therapy back in February, however, I quickly had to switch to virtual visits due to the pandemic. Over the past eight months, I’ve noticed improvements. Now, it’s no magical fix to all of my problems. I’ve had to invest myself in this process. However, I've still had so many times where I’ve messed up. It can take ten steps backward to take two steps forwards. But something that I’ve begun to value? Healthy coping mechanisms. Having a list of healthy coping skills is something I’d recommend to everyone whether you’re currently struggling or not.
( Full disclosure before I continue; I am not a licensed therapist nor am I suggesting that these will work for you. This is what I have found helpful and what I have learned through talking to my therapist.)
Something that has helped me manage my anxiety is grounding. I count grounding as the first healthy coping mechanism on my list (even though it’s a broad technique). In my experience, grounding can help to almost center you, to slow down your brain. Grounding can be done through many different methods but I especially enjoy grounding games. For example, I have a fear of getting shots & it causes severe anxiety whenever I have to go in to get a flu shot or to get my blood drawn. My therapist suggested I try playing a game either in my head or with someone else where you take turns listing different animals in alphabetical order. I use this one whenever I have to go to the doctors because it’s simple and easy to remember. Some similar prompts include counting five things you see that are every color in the rainbow, name as many dog breeds as you can, or name ten different instruments, and many more. It can be helpful to write your prompts down or even search prompts on the web.
Aside from grounding, many of my favorite coping skills are distraction techniques. Those include drawing, coloring, knitting, talking on the phone with a friend, going on a walk or bike ride, watching tv, reading a book, painting, making friendship bracelets, the list goes on.
I think it’s helpful to explore different techniques and to find out what works best for you. There is strength in knowing yourself and being aware of what helps you and what doesn’t. As I mentioned previously, this is all a learning process & I’ve learned more about myself as time goes on. It hasn’t been perfect, but therapy has been progressive!
Elena Pomposo, TeensForHope Editor