Recently, I took my mental wellbeing into my hands and went for counselling with a therapist. Before now, like many Nigerians, I convinced myself it wasn’t that serious. Yes, I am incredibly sad all the time. I cry and I am paralyzed in bed, and on bad days I can barely get up to drink water or eat, nothing interests me. When a doctor became concerned about how much weight I lost and recommended I start therapy, I shrugged it off, abeg it’ not that serious. I was so convinced I could pray through it, but like our people say, water don pass garri. I have come to understand that prayers without action is dead.
So, what is therapy really like?
In the beginning, there were lots of forms with repetitive questions about your state of mind and how you are feeling. Depending on your answers on those forms, they evaluate how much therapy you need. For me, I was sent to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist asked more questions. At some point, I was annoyed that she was asking the same questions with a different language, but I realized later it was part of the practice, she wanted to make sure she covered all the grounds. At the end of my session with her, which took an hour, thirty minutes, she diagnosed me with clinical depression. It wasn’t something I was surprised to hear. I have been reading about it for years and kept denying my condition.
After the diagnoses came the drug prescription. Honestly, this part was hard. I didn’t want to be on medication because I have never heard good things from people on anti-depressants. The psychiatrists, however, said, if you have a headache and you are given painkillers won’t you take them? She went on to explain what the drug will do for me and all the benefits I could get from it.
The next session was with a therapist. While the psychiatrist asked questions based on my symptoms, the therapist was focused on how those things hindered my daily life and how I could manage them with certain changes to my daily routine. For now, every day I am to write three words of affirmations to myself like: I am enough, I am loved, I am blessed. I am also to write out three things I am grateful for. She said by doing these small activities I can push my brain away from the focus on negativity.
I got adult colouring books. To be honest, when the therapist suggested them, I was like which one is this again? But the truth is, they have been so helpful. When I am stressed and I feel my mind is about to snap, I start colouring. I have Disney dreams, words of affirmation and flower colouring books. These simple activities work like magic!
I have been in therapy for only one week and I can feel significant changes in my life. Next week, I will write about my experience with the drugs and my continuous therapy sessions!