Five Lessons I Learned After Talking to a Therapist

It’s hard to believe that until recently, mental health was a taboo topic, and a subject most would shy away from. I’m grateful that things are changing because talking about mental health and the resources to combat common issues is the first step to normalizing the topic and removing the stigma.

After years of contemplating connecting to a therapist, I finally took the steps to a healthier life earlier this year. Thanks to technology and health insurance, I was able to video chat with a therapist from the comfort of my home. I’m only a few months into therapy, but I can confidently say that it’s easily one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.   

Now, before I get started, I do want to emphasize that I’m well aware of how privileged and blessed I am to have health insurance that covers mental health resources. To be honest, I’m not sure that I would be writing this if I didn’t have insurance, because while I firmly believe that it’s a critical resource, I also understand that health insurance and mental health resources can be expensive. If you can afford it, I highly recommend it.

There are countless benefits to therapy. Here are five lessons I learned after talking to a therapist.

Depression and anxiety have distinct solutions

Although I’ve experienced anxiety throughout my life, I have never really struggled with depression or depressive symptoms. After only a few sessions with my therapist, I walked away with one of the simplest yet most transformative lessons. I learned that to overcome the anxiety, I need to change my thoughts, but to overcome depression, I need to act.

As simple as it seems, that sentence helped me transform my mood and outlook on life. When all I wanted to do was lay in bed and sleep, I would challenge myself to do something. Anything. One small step can start the chain reaction to a brighter life.  

Guilt can lead to depression

Like anxiety, I’ve experienced guilt for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I felt guilty after making a not-so-nice comment. As a mom, I’ve experienced immense mom guilt anytime I’m away from my daughter. As a professional, I feel guilty anytime I feel like I’m not providing value or being productive.

I grew up thinking guilt was normal, or “in my blood”, so I never really did anything to change those feelings. After therapy, I’ve realized that guilt is what’s holding me back from going after the things I want, which ultimately leads to feeling down and depressed. I’m slowly learning that just because I’ve experienced something my entire life, it doesn’t mean it’s normal or acceptable. It’s never too late to change.

Grieving your past leads to a brighter future

I don’t know about you, but when I think of grief, I think of death. A funeral, burial ceremony, etc. So, when I learned about the importance of grieving your past, it took some time to wrap my head around the concept. But once I did, I realized that my experiences as a child have a lot to do with how I process my emotions as an adult.

Unlearning negative perceptions, letting go of trauma, and challenging core beliefs are all part of the grieving process. While it can be difficult to revisit your past and relive those unfortunate events, doing so will help change the thoughts that are holding you back, leading you down a clearer path and brighter future.

Boundaries don’t make you a bad person

When I think of boundaries, it’s usually when thinking of work. Setting limits with your co-workers, your boss, and your clients to ensure you can maintain a healthy work-life balance. So, you can probably imagine my surprise when my therapist suggested I establish boundaries with my daughter. Having her home all summer while my husband and I tried to get through a work day was difficult. Setting boundaries with her was even harder.

Although it was a challenging conversation, she understood that mom and dad work during the day, which meant she had to keep herself occupied until it was time for breaks. It took some getting used to, but she respected my space.

Self-esteem is a muscle

As a fashion lover, I’ve always taken pride in my daily outfits, grooming, and how I show up. My morning routine is essential to my productivity, so I was surprised to hear my therapist tell me I was struggling with low self-esteem. It felt like a dagger to the heart for someone like me, who precisely named her business Exclusively Ego, hinting at the importance of looking and feeling good (aka, confidence).

I quickly learned that while we may be confident in certain areas of our lives (appearance), we can also struggle with low self-esteem in others (career). Boosting your self-esteem is a time-consuming project, but it’s worth it.