I spent part of my 23rd birthday in a therapy session. Therapy as a whole is something I’ve kept on the quiet from friends and family but I’ve been going for a few months now. It was something I’d never thought I’d reach, a ‘low’ that I never believed I was capable of reaching and when I finally did so, I was challenged; challenged by my own judgements of what therapy is for, who goes to therapy as well as being acutely aware constantly that the activity I’m engaging in is out of reach for a lot of people.
My current 9-5 workplace has a scheme for staff which gives a limited number of free sessions of therapy, so I thought ‘why not use them?’ Arriving for the first session I stated how I am seeking clarity regarding my own existential direction and how I wish to live my life. This poses me with the problem of facing who I am currently, who I wish to be/how I wish to live and what is stopping me from doing so. This is the surface level. Engaging in probing questions from my therapist, the further we go down the rabbit hole. The placement of the therapy sessions couldn’t have been placed at a better time – the 3rd session was booked on my birthday. I have never been at work on my birthday (this year being the first time) and I never imagined that I would be spending 45 minutes of my time on any birthday with a therapist; but life throws you a curveball from time to time.
One thing I’ve always emphasised with my life is control, even if I’m outside my comfort zone in activities which are pushing me beyond my usual scope, as long as I feel/think I’m in control from the here on, things work together. My intrinsic self-worth has fallen to pieces in the last year and my usual birthday routine is to reflect on the year gone past and if I’m able to come through the reflection phase unharmed from my own self-imposed helplessness, I look forward to a new year, set a plan for the year ahead and set myself goals to execute within the timeframe. This ties in with a phrase I repeatedly say when asked from 2 weeks before my birthday and everyday closer if I’m looking forward to the annual event; my answer is always the same that I’m officially ‘Pending an existential crisis’
It’s been helpful, despite the amount of reflection I’ve been doing I see it as a positive. I’d rather spend my days now digging out what it is I value and figuring how to live by it rather than engaging in the continuous aimless sheep mentality I feel myself engrossed in on a daily via social mediums and the topsy-turvy morality of general society. Knowing thyself is the first step to changing thyself.
If you have access to therapy in any shape or form, I would advise at least using it. My own wrestling with masculinity has made me believe I’m completely autonomous, however even in my inner thinking where I’m scheming how to become more autonomous, I recognise I may need some help from others to achieve that goal. Inner self-reliance tends to be a creation of a community and circumstance rather than inbuilt human will alone.
My therapist highlighted the link of intelligence and creativity with depression and overall low moods to me so I’d advise any of the smart kids and the creative kids to get some help if you feel it’s necessary. I never thought I’d do it, but having someone who is paid to hear your sometimes nonsense/sometimes genius stream-of-consciousness thoughts is pretty cool if you live in your head a lot.
Recognising you need help is a strength, despite the external stigma that it’s a weakness; I guess it takes some life experience to learn this!