You know that feeling after a really intense gym session, or some other more intense physical exercise (at least, more intense than your usual)? There’s a couple, right? Like the right-after feeling, when you feel drained, spent, but really good about yourself. There’s also the “next day” feeling. The “next day,” at least for me, still has the halo of feeling good about what I did, but it’s been dimmed and dulled by the drained, sore, almost regretful feeling of the amount of work I’ve done. There’s a realization of exactly how much work I’d done, and I can feel the drain of that much work in every fiber of my being.
I know. This is a blog about my mental health journey. And, yeah, taking care of my physical self has a significant impact on my mental health, but why am I talking about the gym?
Well, because it’s a great metaphor for a really productive or intense therapy session. I had one of those yesterday. An intense EMDR session where I willingly walked through one of my intrusive “morbid” thoughts (ie: the thought of “what if I were to get really sick/drop dead right here and now”), faced it head-on, worked through it, and made healthy associations to work my way out, rather than spiraling further into the darkness. There were tears, it was intense, but I was in an OK place when I left.
Later in the evening, I was talking to the hubs about session, and started tearing up again. I let myself have an intense cry, and even let my younger self release some emotions. That’s something my therapist has me working on – helping heal my painful memories by sitting with my younger self, talking to her, and supporting her. So I held her, let her cry. I asked for some space to finish working through all my feelings, once I was past the first, super intense wave of emotion. Finally, I wrote a letter to my younger self, and gave myself some “decompression time,” in the form of watching Descendents on Disney+. I felt good about all the work I’d done, proud of feeling my feelings and voicing my needs. I was tired, but felt OK.
Then I woke up this morning. I felt like I’d barely slept. I was in a very blah mood. I’m still pretty tired. It’s almost like a therapy hangover or something. I can definitely feel a decrease in the available bandwidth for dealing with, well, pretty much anything. My mind, my emotions, my spirit are all still “sore” and tired from all the work I did yesterday.
Do I regret it? Hell no! I’d rather be in a bit of a fog today, and tired and needing to be a little extra gentle with myself for a couple of days after a good session than be where I was a year ago, or even 6 months ago. Day over day, week over week, it can still be hard to see that I’m making progress. But as I look back over the past 2 years, I can definitely see some major progress happening.
Do you feel like therapy is a gym for your emotional/mental wellness sometimes?