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I wrote a thing about Adventures in Therapy!

It's already super fun, and we haven't even gotten into any of my latent abandonment issues from being adopted (this is half a joke, half not. don't let it deter you from adoption, guys, just know that sometimes kids who are given up for adoption can, no matter how well adjusted and mentally healthy they are in other ways, have hella issues with rejection and abandonment. #thisismydisclaimer)!

YELLOWBIRD WHERE ARE YOU MY THERAPY BUDDY!

Adventures in Therapy!

Hello, and welcome to my new pet series! As some of you may know, I recently started therapy to deal with some traumatic shit that happened in my past and that I, as a dutiful female who was Intelligent and Strong and Destined for Great Things (and also scared shitless of actually having to deal with it, #truth), promptly buried the CRAP out of, assuming I was strong enough to 'just get over it.'

Fun fact: apparently, you can't just get over severe trauma. Whoops! Lesson learned!

So now I'm on the 'path to healing' - yo, I grew up in a really hippie dippie place, shit might get a little mystical and woo-woo up in here from time to time - and trying to get my silly brain in order. It's all sorts of in trouble with me right now, what with its propensity to occasionally deem non-threats as WOAH THREAT OMG UR GONNA DIE and kind of lose its shit, so we need to get that all re-arranged and re-train my brain to react to things in healthier ways. Doesn't that sound nice? I think so.

Enough with the backstory! I lucked out, and have ended up with a therapist who I think is going to work out really well. This series is going to highlight some of the things that we are working on, and occasionally the stories of others who are also going through this process of healing (if you have any stories or tips or weird things your therapist says or has you do that you'd like to share or have featured, please email me at jessphilopater@gmail.com!).

Words Have Power

- This was maybe my favorite part of my recent meeting: my homework is to pay attention to the words I use to describe feelings and emotions, and how words that are used around/against/in reference to me make me feel

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- 'Negative' has an automatic judgement attached to it. Feelings of anger or sadness or pain are not necessarily 'bad' - they just might be difficult or painful. Nothing wrong with that!

- Words are awesome. They really are. Seriously, I love words. Damn can they cut, and boy can they make you feel like shit for a loooong time after the fact, but they can also heal and support and love and be there for you. Words are fascinating. Yes, I'm in love with words, if you have a problem with that you are welcome to leave. Harrumph.

Let Yourself Feel

- Experiencing only the extremes of emotions is not healthy: whether you're bottling it all up or letting it all out in an uncontrolled way, you're essentially re-traumatizing yourself. Letting yourself experience the feelings as they come upon you, accepting that they are there and that you feel that way, lends you control over the feelings, allowing you to respond in whatever manner is healthiest for you - whether it's just feeling it for a moment, or crying, or whatever.

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- Emotion is not bad! It is healthy, and human, and completely natural to have feelings! Can I just reiterate this point a couple more times? We, especially here in the good ol' United States, forget that IT IS TOTALLY OK TO HAVE AND EXPRESS EMOTION. It's just how you express it that sometimes might need a little work :)

"What do you think and feel about that?"

- Oh my goodness, this is my therapists favorite phrase. On the one hand, I want to answer "I don't know, that's why I'm here, tell me how to feel and think!" and on the other I realize that the whole point is for me to figure it out on my own.

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- What DO you think and feel about that? A thing that I have learned over the years, especially with a brother who couldn't communicate well early in his life, and still has trouble, is that communication is essential. You have to talk things out, and you have to really think about how you're feeling about something and what you think in that moment. If you don't? You're going to lead a verrrrry lonely life. This also extends to paying attention to what you're body is telling you. 90% of human communication is non-verbal. With yourself, and with others, pay attention to those cues. If someone is saying 'I'm fine' but their body language is saying 'I'm really not fine', then pay attention to that. If you are telling yourself that you're fine, but your body is objecting (tension, headaches, etc.), pay attention to that.

So how's that for a start? I've always been the one to play 'therapist' for my friends, as I give very good advice (no, I don't always take it. I am, as all humans are, not perfect!) and can be pretty insightful, so having that turned around on me has been fascinating in and of itself. Y'all do know I'm going to come out the other side here and become President in 20 years, right? Ok, good, glad we're all on the same page.

Disclaimer: this is NOT intended as a subsitute for real professional help. I am not a mental health professional. I am not qualified to diagnose or treat any (and I mean any) mental health condition. This is a place for sharing and stories and sometimes silliness, but mostly for healing, and for knowing you're not alone. If you or someone you love needs serious help, please take a look at the Resource List our lovely mod McUncool has put together. Remember - there is no shame in asking for help if you need it, we're all in this whole 'humanity' thing together!