Going to Therapy Turned Me Into a Word Vomiter

For most of my life, I rarely talked about my feelings, even with my closest friends and family. The good stuff, like when I got a job or internship that I really wanted, or wrote something I was particularly proud of, I rarely acknowledged. Talking about it always felt like bragging to me. Plus, what if it didn’t work out? The fear of failing at something that someone, anyone, knew that I wanted was not worth the risk of daydreaming out loud. And the not-so-good stuff—breakups, family drama, the latest rumor going around in my small hometown—well, that I just flat-out ignored. Instead, I coped the same way everyone who should be going to therapy does: by stuffing it inside of a tiny box to be locked away in the back corner of the attic in my brain and avoided at all cost. Of course, those boxes are all bound to explode. And when mine did, it ignited a years-long struggle with depression and anxiety.

The first time I can remember consciously opening up to anyone was when I was 22 and four years into my relationship with my now-husband. And that only happened after he sat me down on the white wicker porch swing in front of my parents’ house and calmly and kindly explained, as we casually swung back and forth in the warm summer breeze, that I needed to be more vulnerable with him or else he didn’t think our relationship could work. It was a real come-to-Jesus moment, for us as a couple and for me as a human. I knew he was right. I didn’t want to be closed off from the people I love.

Still, it didn’t occur to me to seek professional help. I had nothing against therapy, but I was living in a small town where people thought of mental health care as something reserved for people with “real” problems. That “wasn’t me,” so I just promised to be more forthcoming with him and we moved on. Making a concerted effort to be more open did improve our relationship. But I soon realized that it didn’t resolve my tendency toward avoidance and secrecy. It took…

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