Here's the Thing
Clip art of a red chaise and matching armchair.

I’m Finally Going to Therapy

This column is a reprint from Unwinnable Monthly #166. If you like what you see, grab the magazine for less than ten dollars, or subscribe and get all future magazines for half price.

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Here’s the Thing is where Rob dumps his random thoughts and strong opinions on all manner of nerdy subjects – from videogames and movies to board games and toys.

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I want to state up front that I didn’t view therapy as “bad” or a “sign of weakness” or whatever other nonsense the more blatantly toxic portion of the United States might try to claim. Rather, therapy is something I (ignorantly) assumed just wouldn’t benefit me, specifically. But here’s the thing: That’s objectively false, and since I’ve started seeing a therapist, I’ve come to learn how everyone (literally everyone) stands to benefit from it.

My life is by and large devoid of the kinds of significant events that we might see covered on TV or film. I mean obviously some great and terrible things have happened (I’ve been married to my best friend for 19 years, I’ve lost family members and cherished pets, etc.) but I’m not a Forbes-level success and I don’t have a tragic backstory. For the most part my existence has been just that: Existence. So, for the longest time – like, about 39 years – I never believed I needed to go to therapy. Because, in my mind, nothing happened in my life that was big enough to justify it. Also that shit’s usually expensive, but that’s another story.

About halfway through 2020, my thoughts on the matter began to shift, particularly due to my work situation and how it was affected by the (still ongoing) pandemic, but even then, I resisted. After a lot of discussion with my wife, Diana, and a bit of work (mostly on her part, because she’s amazing), we found a program that both wasn’t a fly-by-night techbro scam and fit within my extremely modest budget.

An old-fashioned diagram of a human head, including clearly labelled sections of the brain.

The plan was to spend a few months (maybe I year, I dunno) talking to a professional about my newfound anxieties and the way my horrendous work situation had impacted the way I react to seeing people in public without masks on. Of course, it’s since gone way beyond that, which is the main reason why I wanted to write about this in the first place.

It’s true that therapy has helped me to better understand and react to my feelings triggered (actually triggered, not the bullshit wrong way we use the term) by certain situations. It’s also true that, as those in therapy often say, the process isn’t about “fixing” so much as it is about understanding what’s going on inside our own heads, then figuring out the tools we can use to better handle it all. What really surprised me is just how much more there was to discover.

Embarrassingly, I used to pride myself on being more self-aware than the average person – which to a degree is probably true (have you all seen Twitter lately?). But despite being so very in-touch with myself (insert beleaguered sigh at past me), turns out I was wrong and there’s a ton of shit that’s shaped my mentalities and behaviors over the years. For example, putting the pieces together as to why I sometimes lay awake at night while my brain force-feeds me a stream of unwanted (often violent) worst case scenarios involving our cats managed to finally make it stop. Or at least made it much easier for me to dispel those thoughts because I had a better handle on where they came from and why.

Understanding leading to more control is kind of the running theme with all that I’ve experienced since I started therapy in October of 2022. Some of our semi-guided discussion tricks have also bled into my own vernacular, which has made it easier to convey my thoughts to other people with fewer instances of words being interpreted in a way that I didn’t intend. It’s also given me both the terminology and the confidence to be more open with my thoughts and feelings, which has led to more trust, understanding and honesty with the people I’m closest to.

All this is to say that, if you have the means, I think you should consider finding a therapist that gels with you and try it out for a month or two. Even if you don’t think you “need” therapy. Because therapy isn’t always about unpacking trauma (trauma you didn’t know you had) or treating mental health issues. Oftentimes it’s more about helping you figure yourself out.

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Rob Rich is a guy who’s loved nerdy stuff since the 80s, from videogames to anime to Godzilla to Power Rangers toys to Transformers, and has had the good fortune of being able to write about them all. He’s also editor for the Games section of Exploits! You can still find him on Twitter, Instagram and Mastodon.

 

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