Well, Lake Forest, we did it. We made it through Midterms week. Not without a whole lot of pain, though, right? I felt like I couldn’t ask anyone how they were doing without hearing, “I’m dying, but its fine.” Maybe that is a pretty normal response from a college student. We feel like we are always dying, but we have gotten used to it.
What does any of this have to do with therapy? Well, here’s the thing. Therapy, in its various forms, understands the “I’m dying” part of the college experience. What it rejects is the “I’m fine” part. Therapy is an experience through which you can become more in control of your own life and of your own health. It aims to help you understand what is making life feel difficult, and to provide you with tools to include healthy practices within your day-to day-life, and to give you the power to feel healthy and happy.
Therapy is a scary word. One that unfortunately carries a lot of stigma. That’s why I am here and why it is important that as a community we understand what it means. Firstly, I should emphasize that, while therapy is a safe place, it is not simply a room in which to vent. That’s what your buddy-pals are for. Therapy is much more important than that, and much more beneficial to your long-term health and happiness.
Therapy, most simply put, is a process to aid an individual in their path to mental health and positivity. The crucial word there is path. Therapy can be understood in different sections of a path that is leading you to a better self.
The first step involves self-awareness. This is arguably the most difficult but it is the most crucial part of a person’s path through therapy. Because therapy is a path to your healthier self, you have to be able to identify that you are unhappy with some facet of your life, and understand that you are not doomed to live with it forever.
The second part of the path is becoming willing to work to free yourself from whatever it is that makes you unhappy. Anxiety, for example, is very easy to accept as a part of who we are and the lives we live at Lake Forest. However, therapy is about understanding that you experience anxiety, and finding ways throughout your life to address it. This means that when you leave the therapist’s office, it is your responsibility to integrate the things you learned into your life. The best part of this step is that it places YOU at the forefront of your own health. You heal as much as you want to heal, and you get out what you put in. There are no rules to follow, no regimen, strictly the concept that you are in charge of your health.
The third part is maintenance. Most of this relies in practice and routine, and eventually you won’t know anything different than the healthy life you have created for yourself. Of course there are ebbs and flows, but what is important is that you let yourself grow and always keep your eye on that path.
We have conquered Midterms, but we still have Finals in a few short months. When the balancing act gets challenging, remember that no matter how you feel, you are not dying. Understand that you might not be fine, and take advantage of the support system that can walk with you along that path to a healthier lifestyle.