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  • Writer's pictureJoanna Buckland

5 things I've learned from therapy by Chloe.

Updated: Feb 12

Behind The Therapy Door; Clients share their stories

Discover powerful stories in our new blog series, "Behind the Therapy Door; Clients Share Their Stories." Gain insights into personal journeys and experience the transformative impact of sharing. Join us on this compelling exploration of resilience, growth, and the human spirit.

Our journey begins with Chloe:

5 things I've learned from therapy by Chloe

When you've experienced something for an extended period, it's easy to normalise not feeling 'good'.

Personally, I've always been drawn to the allure of a quick serotonin boost - the simpler, the better in my book. By the time I reached my 20s, it completely consumed me. Impulsive decisions and endless nights out created an intense echo chamber that was both unpredictable and addictive. Chaos set my soul on fire, and I believed I was happily dancing in the flames.

For years, I repeated these patterns, but this way of living isn't sustainable. As soon as I shut my bedroom door, I felt isolated, burnt out, and depressed. That's when I sought professional help through talking therapy.

A client receiving talking therapy

The initial thought of opening Pandora’s box terrified me, and it took patience and time to break down my walls. Over time, I realised therapy wasn't just a safe space to talk about my feelings but also a place to learn how to unravel them. As someone who struggled to understand what or how I was feeling, the gloves were off.

The coping mechanisms that had served me for so long were a result of experiential avoidance, not wanting to ever feel sad, which is unfortunately unavoidable. Short-term fixes would only have a small impact before I needed to repeat the process all over again, leaving me in tears.

When patterns have been repeated over a long period, no matter how toxic, it’s very disorientating changing them to healthy alternatives. The days got better, and after a while, through my sessions, we realised that I didn't love chaos but hid behind it as a means of control. It was the first time in my life I felt truly seen.

Going to therapy is not weak. In fact, facing your problems head-on in a session requires a lot more strength than burying your head in the sand. Having accountability and moral courage is hard, but it is also growth.

Old impulsive behaviours sometimes rear their chaotic head, but thanks to therapy, I am much more well-equipped to understand the trigger and witness it.

So here are five things that I have learned through my two and a half years (!!!) of therapy and my mental health journey:

1. Your feelings are valid, but they are not always a fact

I have a friend who was so consumed by worries that she convinced herself she was losing her sight. While her anxiety was completely valid, the truth was she had 20/20 vision, and her fear had no grounding in reality.

Feelings are not a bad thing, and I’m not suggesting that complicated emotions should be swept under the carpet. It’s about getting our facts correct and integrating them with our feelings.

Some people would generate the same fear response running from a tiger as they would a woodlouse - the fact is that the risk is completely different.

The point is that when we act on feelings alone as if they are facts, we have only half of the full picture, and it’s more difficult to rationalise.

2. Find a healthy way to self-soothe

Whether it is crafting, running a bath, cuddling your pet, walking in nature, or simply getting under your duvet, self-calming techniques are a way to stop and reverse the feelings of stress and anxiousness, giving yourself the time to reset and soothe your body’s nervous system.

It is easy to be dismissive of seemingly oversimplified self-help - we’ve all heard horror stories of people with depression being told to go for a walk. However, the impact of being outside and feeling something - the wind through your hair, the cold on your cheeks, or the rain through your jacket cannot be underestimated. Sometimes you need to feel something rather than nothing at all.

While our friends can be a fantastic support system, they can’t always be available, so it is important to find an independent way to self-soothe that especially doesn’t include alcohol.

3. Your well-being is a nightclub, and the bouncer is your boundaries

If you go to a nightclub, and the bouncer on the door tells you it’s £10 to get in, what do you do? You pay the £10 or you don’t get in.

It’s the same with your boundaries and how people can access you.

Setting a standard is not an attack on someone; it’s a blessing to yourself. If someone is blagging their way in without offering the correct entry fee, don’t be tempted to cheapen your self-worth because that person doesn’t value you.

Boundaries are the crux of so many issues when it comes to healthy well-being and learning. So knowing how to effectively set and stand by them is one of the most courageous forms of self-love.

4. If it just isn’t working, don’t try to do it harder

You should never have to force something to work when it’s right. So, whether it’s a job, relationship, or lifestyle, sometimes you have to know when to call it a day.

There is obvious nuance in this, as extra effort is sometimes needed to overcome challenges. But if this is not reciprocated, then take that as your cue to walk away.

If you’re questioning whether you deserve better, you probably do.

5. Learn to be comfortable with the things you can control

The only things that you are in control of are your thinking, behaviour, and attitude.

Everything outside of this is within your influence, including what people think and do. It is immensely liberating to us (and to others) when we give up the idea that we can completely control other people. Importantly, our leverage to influence others is directly proportional to how strong our relationship is with them.

We cannot become what we want by remaining what we are. There is always stuff to improve on, and it is important to recognise that we all have the scope to grow. We are all beautiful unfinished projects in some capacity, and taking responsibility for this only betters your life, your lived experience, and the life of those around you.

I am not saying that therapy is the one-stop shop where all your issues will disappear in a puff of smoke, allowing you to live anxiety-free for the rest of your days. But what it does do is provide you with a safe person to talk to and the tools to negotiate rough periods in a healthy way while still remaining true to your values and authentic self.

Healing happens when you’re seen, and showing up for yourself is where it truly begins.

Written by Chloe, a Client of WellBe Link.

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