Just like you I have problems too image posterImage by Jeanaica Suplido-Alinsub

Just like you, I have problems too: How I got into therapy

June 18, 2023
Disclaimer: The events detailed in this story took place at a previous place of employment, not associated with any organizations listed on my profile.

Just like you and the rest of the world, I have problems too. According to the Cambridge dictionary, therapy is a treatment that helps someone feel better, grow stronger, etc., especially after an illness. Neat right? Yup, but it is not easy. Therapy has helped me in ways I can't even begin to fathom. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to undergo therapy and to be able to afford it. In a society where mental health is a stigma, finding help and realizing that you need it is a challenging, yet incredibly important journey. It sometimes takes a person years to acknowledge it, and most of the time, they don't even get to at all. As far as my comfort levels allow, I will try to share some details about what happened and how it led me to seek therapy. Where, and how I got the information, and probably tell you a little about my progress. I would like to let people know that help is available and it is okay to ask for help.

So here we go, last year, a week after our wedding, I got hit with my mortality right in the face. I don't know how doctors should tell stuff like "we need to perform an operation on you, you have some stuff going on there, and btw, you have a cyst and we need to know if it is cancerous". It is not how the doctor said it but in my head, I was supposed to live a happily ever but finding all these things at once is really a lot. I seldom get sick, the only operation I had was on my chin because I fell down the stairs when I was a toddler, aside from that nada. I told my husband I was okay. I told myself I was okay, I thought I was okay. But I wasn't. I don't want to tell my friends about this because they have pressing matters of their own. I was also new at my job and didn't want my boss to worry, I also felt it was inappropriate to share something so personal at work. It was me, my doctor, and my husband who knew. I thought I could handle it like always. As a child, I always handled things myself. I seldom asked for help because I didn't want my parents to worry or feel embarrassed on my behalf. It was a struggle to ask for help without thinking of being a burden. I always admired people who can ask for help and be so open, I never understood why this was so when I feel the opposite for myself. Did this lead me to therapy? No, not yet.

One day, I went to my parents' house to see how they are doing, I was told they weren’t doing well after I got married. This was around three weeks after my wedding, newly employed, and still paying off debts from a failed investment a year before. They all knew about this and I informed them I can't afford to support them for a few months at least until I get back on track. I got struck with grief, then eventually told a parent what was going on, the parent told me "maliit lang naman di ba?"("it is just small right?") referring to the cyst. I won't go into the details but just a few minutes later, I left their place crying. I know I should've handled it better but hearing that got me scared, what if the cyst was not small? What if it was malignant? What if I died? I felt like no one cared. I have never felt so hopeless. I felt alone. I felt like dying was not even a choice for me and it made me sad. These things are running through my head but I was still telling myself that I was okay. Did this lead me to therapy? No, not yet.

Monday came and I was having a migraine that morning, I came back from the bathroom and the whole team was gone. Those empty seats triggered memories and feelings I didn't know I had. Then I had a panic attack. Thoughts of dying swirled through my brain, I just got married now this? I was just beginning to know me. By the time my team had returned, I was in the midst of this episode. I had closed my eyes and clasped my hands together, attempting to calm myself. One of them asked if I was okay, I told him "No, I am not okay". Then this same person took my picture and posted it in our work channel for laughs. It was the worst feeling. I mustered up the strength to get out of the room as I was already crying and I can't breathe. After going to the bathroom I began hyperventilating, still can't breathe, my hands were numb, and still can't stop crying. I felt weak, embarrassed, and afraid. I have no words for this unfortunate event. It is sad and disappointing. I just hope that this will not happen to anyone else. Did this lead me to therapy? No, again not yet.

I remember days before my surgery telling my husband that I am okay with being alone in the hospital for the procedure, because he was new at work. Yet, in the days following, I felt disgruntled because he hadn't accompanied me. My habit of not seeking help was not helping me at all. I finally got my results a month after the procedure and thankfully it was not cancerous. Did that immediately make me happy? No, it did not. I had a hard time knowing my worth after all that had happened. I lost my sense of self, if I ever had any. I felt desperate, I wanted to be heard but I did not know how. I wanted someone to let me understand what was happening. I was very selfish, I did not want to exist. Thinking about it now, not wanting to die and then wanting to die was what I felt. I would always keep the pills given to me by my previous doctor in my drawer, given with the instruction to only take a quarter dose, I was planning to take all those pills at once. I was unsure if it would take me out but at the time, it was worth a try. Each time that thought entered my mind, I would see my husband. He would invariably ask me if I was okay, and I would always respond "Yes, I am okay". He would hug me out of the blue and tell me that he loves me. During this time, I also came across the Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig, he talked about his struggles and how therapy has helped him. After that, I decided to throw away those pills. I decided to not be a victim of circumstance, I want to be like Matt Haig, to at least help a person live. I want to live for my husband, as I promised God that I would take care of him until we reach 120 years and beyond. I want to live because life is a gift from God and because God wants me to live. Did this lead me to therapy? Yes, it did.

I started researching on where I can get therapy and was able to find a community group in reddit called MentalHealthPH. It is where I found out about useful resources and establishments that offer mental health services. There were also reviews from real people, which helped me in knowing what would be best for me, also letting me know that if something does not work out, I can try again, it is not a one size fits all kind of thing. I did my due diligence, I cross-checked the clinics that were mentioned, looked for other reviews and websites that would shed light to the services offered by each clinic. When it came that I finally chose one, I went ahead and checked their doctors too, I looked for who might specialize with my situation and who can best help me at the time. All I can say is I am doing better, the journey is certainly not linear but it is better than last year no doubt. I can finally say that I am happy and am making progress towards where I want to be. Not hopeless, not worthless but just me. I am glad that I exist.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from depression, anxiety or any mental health issues, it is okay to ask for help, here is the number for the National Center for Mental Health Crisis Hotline - 0966-351-4518 and HopelinePH - 24/7 Suicide Prevention and Emotional Crisis Line - (Globe) 0917-558-4673, (Smart) - 0918-873-4673, (PLDT) - (02)8804-4673 and GrayMatters Psychological and Consultancy, Inc. - (Clinical Division) 0917-709-6961, (Landline) - (02)8938-0726