I have been reflecting lately on the ways in which therapy has impacted me. I think the biggest impact has actually been a physical one. I am now really beginning to understand the mind/body connection.
I suffered for years from stomach issues, but it's only in the last few years that I actually sought treatment for my these issues. I now finally have a diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis and am in treatment for this autoimmune disease. What motivated me to actually get medical treatment was beginning to address the trauma, anxiety, and anger I had been ignoring all my life.
My husband is a mental health counsellor and he was training to practice eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, or EMDR. I instinctively knew EMDR would help me. I found my amazing therapist through MyWellbeing over 2 years ago (wait, maybe 3 years ago now?). Through a lot, a lot, a lot of work with my therapist and through using EMDR, I was able to finally "come out from under." Suddenly, I could go to a doctor's office for a routine visit without severe panic attacks. Suddenly, I could accept the love my amazing partner, family, and friends were offering. And suddenly, I didn't think I deserved to be sick to my stomach all the time.
When I look back, I realize the only reason an ambitious, smart, and privileged woman like me refused to seek more medical treatment and answers for the severe symptoms I was experiencing is because I didn't think I deserved to feel better. I unconsciously reasoned that being on the toilet all the time, feeling tired, dizzy, dehydrated, bloated, and generally "off" was just how my life was going to be. I didn't deserve better, I couldn't even visualize better, so why even bother trying? But when I started to heal from my past traumas, and when I entered a truly amazing, loving romantic relationship, things began to shift. I did deserve to feel better. I wanted to actually live my best life, not just hashtag it on Instagram. It's funny to me in a way; I could travel the world, write award-winning plays, and meet my husband, but I couldn't admit how sick I was. It was like this vulnerability, this weakness that I was too afraid to share. I had spent my entire life pushing things down, being strong and brave, and speaking out loud. "I'm sick" was the scariest thing in the world.
And, of course, once I admitted I was sick, I was able to get help. And now I'm on a journey of wellness in my mental as well as physical health.
Therapy is like going to the gym. Some days it's amazing, some days it hurts like hell, and some days you have to force yourself to do it. But you know it's good for you, and it's worth it, and you'll be better for going.
It's going to be scary and hard. But it's worth it.
Monica LaBadia is a writer originally from Los Angeles, currently based in Brooklyn. She writes plays, screenplays, and podcasts, and runs the wellness blog Living Well with UC. Her plays have been seen in New York, Los Angeles, Singapore, and Cambodia, among others. IG: @livingwellwithuc.