Erin is an environmentally conscious mother of two, who agreed to sit down with us to talk about her experiences in therapy.
What drove you to seek therapy in the first place?
The first time I went to seek therapy, it was to help me cope with my brother’s death. I usually go 3-4 times per issue – that was the first time, so let’s say I went 3 times for that one. And then I went 3 times because I was having challenges with my marriage. I went to therapy with my son – we went a lot of times, like 6 or 7 times. Those are the ones I can think of.
In general, have you found therapy to be helpful?
Yes, I have. Different therapists have been helpful in different ways, and some have been less helpful. There was one who did not help at all. The times that it has been helpful, I feel like therapists have given me a different perspective on my issues and have helped me see them in a more healthy way. Like, one of my therapists really gave me a lot of really helpful tools because I was in kind of a depression and hadn’t realized it.
He made me notice that I had taken on the mindset that things are personal, pervasive, or permanent. If something is personal, you’re like “this is about me. It only happens to me.” If it is pervasive, then it leaks into every other part of your life, so you think you’re a failure at everything. If it is permanent, I think that if I fail at something now, then I will always be a failure at it. I was in this mindset of taking things personally, pervasively, or permanently. He made me realize that I was doing this. It helped me to consider that this didn’t work for me this one time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that something is super flawed with me or that it will always be this way. So it was really helpful for him to point that out.
Did he give you any coping mechanisms to help you change your thought process?
Yes, he gave me a sheet – I don’t think I still have it. I forget what they’re called, but he gave me a sheet of unhealthy heuristics. And I wasn’t doing all of them. They are heuristics that you go to mentally, which aren’t healthy and aren’t good for mental health. So he gave me this sheet. On the left, it listed these heuristics that we can fall into when we’re depressed or anxious or hopeless. On the right side, it listed things that we can do to counteract this heuristic. For me, I would tell myself that this is not permanent. It will not always be this way and this is not because I am a super flawed person and this does not extend into every part of my life. So that was super helpful!
I had another therapist who I saw when I was younger who gave me really good tools for how to be married. She helped me to not be upset and hurt with that relationship. She gave me some tools for coping in a more healthy way. It was probably because I was being really passive aggressive, which doesn’t do anybody any good. It was a little healthier to say “this is a problem and I don’t like this and here is what I am going to do about it” instead of handling it by being passive aggressive. That therapist gave me back a sense of control. Maybe that is a good overall theme that the therapist gave me back a sense of overall self control, which I can easily lose when I am depressed.
What would you tell someone else about therapy?
I would tell them that it made my life better. My therapist made my life more enjoyable, more joyful, and gave me back my sense of worth.
Big thank you to Erin for her honesty and willingness to sit down for an interview. Check out Part 2 of Erin’s story Here.