Welcome back to Week 12!
Can you believe today marks 3 months of the Mental Health Monday series?!
Anyways, let’s get right into it…
Today I’d like to discuss processing your emotions.
For me, this pandemic has given me a chance to really evaluate my life.
When your day to day changes & you have a chance to slow down, get in tune with your needs, are able to catch a breath, or even be able to do something as simple as take a walk without being in a rush or on someone else’s time, your perspective begins to change.
In the past 7 months I’ve reconstructed my life in many ways & in order to do that I had to process certain situations, feelings, & emotions so I made the decision to check into therapy.
I knew it wasn’t going to be easy being vulnerable with a stranger but I was so sick of my own shit I knew doing this was going to help me in some capacity.
I can only speak for myself when I say this but picking a woman of color to be my therapist was extremely important to me. I needed someone who would understand me, the world we live in & some very real fears we face & carry in today’s climate as people of color.
That’s when I found Janelle.
After opening up to Janelle, she said something that stuck out to me. She told me how she didn’t want to be my therapist for long.
I didn’t pay attention to what she meant at the time because I’ve come to her in such a vulnerable position, I just wanted to focus on healing.
I went to her already knowing I suffered from PTSD, anxiety, & depression. Slowly but surely we unpacked all of my emotional baggage.
It was ugly.
Most days were hard as fuck in the beginning but I was holding myself accountable & ready to change.
Every month I’d take an assessment test to examine my progress & I’d watch my score decrease which to me meant my diagnosis was no longer sitting shotgun.
But then there were some months the score would rise, although not tremendously I would get down on myself because I felt like the progress being made was no longer.
Janelle told me she didn’t use the assessment test to gauge any type of progress because healing isn’t linear & boy was she right.
Healing is not a straight line forward.
Healing looks a lot like the NYSE when it’s down & rising again.
Sometimes you feel all over the place.
Sometimes you just want to scream.
Sometimes you become angry.
Sometimes you become sad.
Sometimes you want to bawl your eyes out.
Other times you feel strong & capable.
The most important thing to remember was feeling those negative emotions was normal & I had to let them pass without trying to stuff it back down & ignore it.
I had gotten so accustomed to the fast paced life of working, taking care of home, trying to be social, that my trauma had become compartmentalized deep in my subconscious.
I needed to change that.
I needed to face myself, once & for all, & get to the root of the issues, so I did.
The childhood wounds sting like a bee.
You go from being a kid to an adult & before you know it, you have all these triggers.
Even when you’re grown you still remember how small someone made you feel or the hurt & fear of being let down or disappointed.
Journaling had become such an outlet for me to express how I felt that I would write until my hands hurt. I didn’t care about penmanship or spelling, I just kept writing.
I read 2 books at once, one being the CBT workbook I mention in the earlier weeks of the Mental Health Monday series.
The other book I read, which spoke on childhood wounds, provided journal prompts that would stimulate my mind to think of things I had never thought of prior.
The journal prompts helped me release things I didn’t realize I was still holding on to.
Week after week I had been processing my emotions with Janelle, talking to her about all I’ve been learning, & it felt good to be able to talk to someone without judgment.
I started realizing that when things triggered me I was able to respond better by the work I was doing.
I noticed that I would react differently to situations that would arise.
I was handling change a lot better because I was learning to surrender & trust.
I was removing the armor I always wore as a result of always being in survival mode.
Here’s the thing… A therapist can give you all types of information but it’s really up to you to apply it.
Even when reading self-healing books or blogs like this, it’s still up to you to do the work because nobody can do that part for you.
I started realizing I didn’t need to speak to Janelle as often & that made me proud because I felt the things I’ve been doing were working.
7 months later & I find out she can no longer see me as a patient & there were 2 weeks left until her last day.
I was saddened to get that news.
My biggest support system had just relocated & I felt like damn, now you too?!
So I did all I could do, embrace the change as unsettling as it was because yeah I noticed I didn’t need to speak to Janelle as often but to not have her in my life at all after all this progress being made?!
My anxiety spiked, I would experience palpitations & nervousness that I wouldn’t share out loud because I was trying to embrace all the changes taking place in my life.
For the last 2 weeks I stood trying to cover as much as I could with Janelle.
After the first week, I had to really come to terms with Janelle leaving.
I made the personal decision to make her last day mine as well because I’m not in a mental space to start over with someone new after making such progress.
Reliving your traumatic experiences is draining, which is why when you’re doing this kind of intensive mental work you need to balance what you do outside of it as well.
Sometimes that became a struggle for me because I was so focused on healing that I didn’t have the drive to do anything else that I’d normally be interested in. When that happens it can create an imbalance.
Last Monday was Janelle’s last day, fortunately for me she was able to send me one last message before losing access to her clients.
She spoke on how much progress I have made, she spoke on continuing to trust my instincts which funnily, last week’s post was on Trust making her message very timely.
She also spoke on how I’ve really mastered the process of healing because of my commitment to myself & my ability to acknowledge, discuss, & reflect. Not to mention being vulnerable & sharing my story with others who may relate as well.
The night before Janelle’s last day, I came across a tweet on Twitter from another black therapist saying he tells his clients he wants them to fire him as soon as they’re ready to & I finally understood what Janelle meant when she said she didn’t want to be my therapist for long.
These are therapist who move in integrity & aren’t keeping people in their pain to profit off.
Like anything, mental health has become a huge market. Between the cost of sessions, to the prescriptions being written & given by some therapist, people are profiting off the pain of others without truly giving them the tools they need to cope independently.
I feel although it was unexpected & I didn’t stop seeing Janelle on my own, our relationship had run it’s course.
I felt like in some divine way I had learned everything I was supposed to learn from her & now I’m to really apply that pressure going forward.
It’s funny when life allows you to see things come full circle & you realize how everything is truly connected.
Sure I can always find another therapist but I decided that along with this accountability & changed perspective, I will not stay stuck in dis-ease.
I will not let my traumatic experiences define my life or how I live.
I am choosing not to dwell on the past.
I am choosing to forgive those who have hurt me, as well as forgive myself because forgiveness is one of the main components of any healing process & it’s the shiny red bow that wraps up your healing.
I don’t want to live a life that I feel like I have to heal from forever.
I’ve worked hard & will continue to do so to rewire my brain & body to experience safety in being seen for who I am rather than abused, abandoned, or punished. I affirm it’s safe because I am whole as I am & truly deserving of that.
This isn’t me saying I am fully healed or that I’ve learned everything I need to know in life.
I’ve still been processing emotions, but I’ll be better prepared for whatever comes next.
Processing your emotions is not an easy task, it requires dedication to yourself.
I hope my story helps you to prioritize your mental health because we all deserve to heal.
As always, be gentle with yourself but also hold yourself accountable.
Stop comparing & start cultivating.