It has been a very long year and a half.
In some sense, the pre-pandemic days feel like a distant past of sorts. A magical time where I could meet my friends whenever I felt like it and travel to basically anywhere I wanted.
It was only when my freedom was taken away that I realized what I had lost.
When things closed down and I was stuck alone in my apartment, things got weird really fast.
I didn’t really know what to do with myself.
Zoom meetings didn’t do it for me as a substitute for hanging out in the office, and it was difficult to stay focused when I’m in the same space from the moment I wake up to the moment I fall asleep.
With time, things got a bit better. I found out that wearing pants makes a real difference and that there’s bonding to be found when everyone is going through the same stuff as you.
I felt less lonely. I also had more time to dedicate to taking care of my plants, baking, and catching up with all sorts of things on my to-do list that I’d never got around to before.
I kept myself busy, and things were looking up.
There were ups and downs, of course.
There were days I got sick of baking. There were days I really wanted to be in someplace new. There were days I just wanted someone to hug me.
It had been a very long year and a half, but I made it through.
Things were opening up. I could meet people again, and I could once again spend my days working around other people.
Everything seemed to have come back to normal.
Everything except me.
At first, I just couldn’t understand.
Didn’t I just get everything I had wanted since this whole thing started? Why was I not happy about this?
What the hell happened?
I opened up about it to a few friends, and to varying degrees, they all felt a little bit like me – nervous about going back because they had gotten used to something else.
But there was one difference. A big one. They were nervous, but I was terrified.
While at work, I couldn’t concentrate. I would go to the bathroom and just sit there for a few minutes just so I could be by myself.
I counted the hours until I could leave and go home. My nails met my teeth for the first time, and it was not a healthy relationship.
When friends suggested going out, I found myself coming up with excuses as to why I couldn’t make it. But really, I just wanted to stay at home and not see anyone.
Every day that I couldn’t, I felt more and more anxious. Like there was a magnet inside my chest that constantly pressured and pulled me away from people and public spaces.
It was painful, and I didn’t know what to do about it.
I was carrying this pressure inside of me all day, every day.
I felt like there was something wrong with me and couldn’t bear telling it to anyone else. If they were all just a bit nervous, what did that make me?
I started reading a lot about how to deal with anxiety. There is more information out there than time to read it, and more than enough strategies, coping mechanisms, tricks, and hoops to jump through.
I gave all of them a go – from trying (and failing) daily meditations to DIY hard cognitive-behavioral science and pretty much everything in between.
But the more things stayed the same, the more I realized this wasn’t something I could deal with on my own.
If I wanted to be at peace again, it was probably time to reach out to a professional.
But therapy… Well, it is kind of a big deal, isn’t it?
I was on the fence for a while.
Until one evening, I was on the phone with my sister, just catching up and chatting. She told me about a friend of hers who was going through a divorce. She was getting depressed but started feeling better thanks to online therapy.
“What’s that like?” I asked nonchalantly, feeling a drop of sweat going down my back.
Apparently, you download an app called DoMental and text with a therapist to get help with things you’re struggling with.
Simple as that.
It sounded like exactly what I needed.
No need to leave my home. No need to get to wherever their office would be. No need to force myself to maintain as much polite eye contact as I can for an hour.
The idea felt almost too good to be true.
I decided to give it a shot.
If it ended up not working, I’d just be back to where I was anyway.
From the safety of my comfy couch, armed with a reassuring cup of tea and plate of cookies, I pulled out my phone and searched for DoMental.
A simple website popped up, telling me why therapy is good for me. Cool and good.
I started by taking a quiz that asked me a few questions, including what I struggled with the most.
Naturally, I picked anxiety, and the following questions asked me about my anxiety symptoms.
A couple of minutes later, it was all done – I signed up, purchased a plan, downloaded the app, and was good to go. No funny business.
So what was it like?
Writing the first message was incredibly daunting.
“Hey, I’m Samantha, and I am too anxious to function properly as a person” doesn’t quite cut it as an explanation.
For the first time since I started feeling anxious, I felt compelled to write down what it is that I have actually been struggling with.
And to a stranger, no less!
But I did, and I sent the first message.
I didn’t really expect them to reply straight away unless they happen to be working at 10 PM on a Sunday. The wait was making me nervous, and it was difficult to fall asleep that night.
When I woke up the next morning, I picked up my phone almost instinctively.
I had a message waiting for me from my new therapist, Melissa. It was a chunky paragraph oozing with understanding, reassurance, and warmth, and I even got a bit teary-eyed as I read through it.
It’s amazing what a small amount of empathy can do.
I have been chatting with Melissa about once a day, nearly every day, for three weeks now.
We chat at around the same time each day, which we agreed about early in the process, so that I wouldn’t have to keep checking if she has replied throughout the day.
The beginning was very much about her trying to understand my situation as much as possible and uncovering the root of the problem.
But the root was not the only thing that needed to be tackled – there was a trunk, and branches, and a whole bunch of leaves.
Little by little, those were tackled too.
She taught me simple coping strategies that I could implement on a daily basis. Not the CBT basics you can find online, but ones tailored for my present situation and the kind of person I am.
She made sure I got continuous feedback about the homework we agreed to do, a lot of which was various forms of tracking what I am experiencing and in what situations. Even I could see that certain patterns were beginning to emerge – ones that I had never even realized before.
But did all of this really help me?
I won’t pretend that 3 weeks of daily therapy took me from being a bundle of exposed nerves to an enlightened paragon of inner peace.
But they did make a difference, and I do feel like I’m on the right path toward being the kind of person I want to be and enjoy life again.
I don’t want to go back to being who I was.
That person was oblivious of the hidden fears and insecurities that lurked behind her thoughts and decisions.
I’ve discovered a new me. A better, healthier me. And I am cultivating her growth every day thanks to Melissa’s guidance and support.
I honestly don’t believe I would have been able to do this without her.
At first, I was afraid I would be marked as “someone who needs a therapist” and that it would be an irremovable stain on how people would see me from that point onward.
But the more days in therapy went by, the more I learned that it wasn’t a drastic step at all and that I should have done this a long time ago.
Having a psychotherapist helping you deal with life’s problems, large or small as they may be, is nothing to be ashamed of.
In fact, I would go as far as to say that everyone should have therapy because there is so much to be gained. In that respect, I’m glad I came across DoMental.
Here’s why I think you should try it:
✅ Therapy is, by itself, invaluable. I can’t stress this point enough: if you would go see a doctor when you feel sick, you should definitely go see a therapist when life, you know, happens.
✅ Daily therapy means faster progress. If I had only 1 session per week, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have made as much progress as I did. The daily nature of therapy on DoMental allowed me to take smaller steps more frequently.
✅ Anonymity makes it easier to start. I think doing therapy in person can be more challenging early on, especially if you have social anxiety like I do. Texting just takes so much pressure off of you.
✅ You can do it from home. When you open up to someone about your innermost feelings and struggles, there is no greater comfort than your comfiest clothes, your own familiar space, and perhaps the ability to cuddle with a very fluffy dog.
✅ It’s more affordable than other therapy options I ended up looking at. Therapy, like any health service, is not exactly cheap, so every dollar counts.
✅ You can always change your therapist for free if you happened to not be as lucky as I was when I found Melissa!
Always consult a professional for medical advice