Even though I had been avoiding therapy for quite some time, mental health awareness through social media has played an important factor in my life. The idea that one does not necessarily have to experience trauma (or something equally difficult) to go for therapy was unusual for me. As a result, I participated in group workshops conducted by Gulmohar.
One of the workshops was about decoding the meaning of life, and another one was about body positivity. With the internet going gaga over the ideas of fat/thin shaming and the obsession with physical appearances; the workshop felt like I like talking to a friend. Most of the participants were female and shamed for different reasons - being fat, being thin, being dark, or having too much facial hair. It created a comfortable space with others who were experiencing similar feelings. Since these workshops were activity-based, instead of just talking about our feelings and experiences, we approached them through situations and visuals.
I didn’t want to do therapy because I thought I would be cornered, and be the subject of a lot of unfounded attention. What I did not realise was that the therapist was not here to judge me, let alone criticise.
I gradually warmed up to full-fledged therapy. In May 2021, I started going when the second lockdown was announced.The therapist was empathetic and a kind listener. I had always imagined therapy would feel like visiting a general physician. You meet the doctor, diagnosis, medicine and that’s it...you are done! I was expecting the emotional equivalent of paracetamol.
In retrospect, I can only nod in dismay. Due to certain reasons, we had to discontinue. I was referred to someone else. I was not convinced about it. I didn’t realise therapy is such a long and excruciating process. Until then, running away from it had always been my intention. We rarely process our feelings or thoughts in most situations. In the name of ambition, hard work, success; we forget who we are and what we want. And just like that, one fine day, all of this comes back to bite us.
I had not imagined I would have so many events, people or just things to process. The repeated lockdown and limited social interactions had forced me to slow down. I was fortunate and privileged enough to get a job after my post graduation. It might not be my dream job, but it pays the bills; and my employer is a kind man. More importantly, it has allowed me to take up therapy. I finally have the financial and mental energies for it.
One of the first lessons I learnt was to look at mistakes as mistakes and not necessarily define a person as ‘the mistake’. So, if I spill milk, spilling milk is the problem. I should be careful, but spilling does not, or should not define me. It’s a lot easier said than done, but the lesson also taught me to let go of labels. The ones we get, the ones we give and occasionally; the ones we assume. I still have a long way to go. There is perhaps quite some unlearning to do. As the process weighs me down often, I try to stick to routine.
There are days when even that is very difficult, but not doing it could make things worse