How did a bird change your life
How therapy changed my life
At the end of "Mental Health Awareness Month", this week on Vogue.de we are devoting ourselves entirely to mental health in all its facets.
When I started my therapy, most of the people around me were irritated. "You're mentally stable," they said. "Are you depressed?" They asked. And it was true, I wasn't a nervous wreck, I wasn't overly burdening those around me with mental health problems or problematic idiosyncrasies. But I felt like I needed outside help to understand myself and my feelings. Not so that my condition could improve, but so that it could stay that way.
The widespread assumption that you can only go into therapy after you've ruined your life or experienced far-reaching consequences of your behavior is utter nonsense. Sure, you can always work. And as long as you can do your job, everything can't be that bad, can it? But if therapy completely changes your life - even if it was okay beforehand - the likelihood is relatively high that you were an emotionally ticking time bomb.
My need for help was triggered by a stressful year in a destructive job. I felt so bad that I got physical problems. I was functioning perfectly, but my body made a very clear signal that I had to change something. I even fell into a depressive phase that lasted only a few weeks, but scared me enough that I wanted help. This kind of loss of control wasn't clear to me. I got out of this situation by quitting. Although I felt better after a short time, I started therapy a year later. My therapist was of the opinion that I couldn't handle my feelings, and later she diagnosed me with an anxiety disorder. Not a dramatic diagnosis, and yet it changed all aspects of my life: love, friendships, job, family.
Most of the developments were positive, but I also had to cut corners. The changes hit my friendships hardest. Distant acquaintances would probably not have noticed, but everyone in my immediate environment had to be prepared to get to know new facets of my personality. I first had to get to know these new pages myself. I know that many of those close to me liked my old self better, even if it is painful for me. I was more fun, I was stronger, I was more tolerant.
As a result of this change, I lost my longest friend and felt distant from my closest friends for a while. I had to give my best friends a lot of time to adjust to myself. After all, they too had got used to me for 29 years. The fact that I suddenly behaved against all expectations was not only a change for me. But good friendships can withstand when you change - at least when you change to keep your peace of mind.
I was certainly not the only person in my circle of friends who would have benefited from a small change. The problems you have every day, the destructive situations you get into, the toxic relationships you have, always have something to do with the other person. And sometimes that person might need more help than you do. But you can't force everyone to reflect on themselves. The only thing you can do is change how you deal with these people and situations.
When I realized this, I ended my longest friendship. I had been trapped in a toxic friendship since teenage years, the dynamic of which I had created myself. I let my girlfriend get away with everything. She smooch with my boyfriend, she gossip my deepest secrets into the world, she used me to protect herself. I always pointed out to her when she sucked, but at the same time I thought she couldn't help it. She has a much bigger problem with herself than I've ever had. I was the stronger one, to whom she poured out her heart, to whom she apologized when she gave me shit again. We were best friends - of course I forgave her for everything.
It was only through the therapy that I became aware that I can draw boundaries myself. And if someone exceeds these limits, I can also draw a line. I don't have to be the stronger one. I don't have to be there for someone to trample on my feelings. That sounds banal. But it is difficult to break out of dynamics that one has already learned in childhood.
But it wasn't just my friendships that changed. My relationship with my family has improved, after ten years I have managed to enter into a serious relationship again, and I can now deal with stress so well that I can be in a management position again. I wrote earlier that I was more fun, stronger and more tolerant beforehand. However, I see this change differently. I wasn't more fun, I was more drunk. I wasn't stronger, I suppressed my feelings. And I wasn't more tolerant, I just put up with more.
It is obvious that such a behavior pattern is not healthy. That I was an emotionally ticking time bomb because of that only became apparent to me a year after starting therapy. When I was in a serious car accident, my diagnosed anxiety disorder really came to light. I suffered from panic attacks and anxiety for months, had to take sedatives and could no longer work. But I was able to deal with the psychological state of emergency and overcome time well. If I hadn't already been receiving treatment at the time, it would all have been much more dramatic. I am convinced that my untreated problems would have exploded by that moment at the latest. Should I have started therapy only then? I'm so glad I did it before.
Because unfortunately everyone experiences such moments in life. It is better if you are prepared for it. You can always function. But if you only function in an ideal state, you live unnecessarily dangerously.
This is not a medical guide. There is no guarantee of completeness. If you need help, contact the telephone counseling on 0 800/111 0 111 and 0 800/111 0 222 (free, anonymous and available around the clock) or contact your doctor. You will find contact pointshere.
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