6 Signs It’s Time to Find a New Therapist

Therapy can be hard, but your relationship with your therapist shouldn’t be difficult. It takes courage to start therapy and let yourself be vulnerable, so you should have a therapist you trust.

If you don’t feel like your current therapist is working out, don’t give up. There are many reasons a therapist may not be a good fit, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a therapist out there for you.

Here are six signs you might want to go shopping for a new therapist:

You feel judged.

Therapy is supposed to be a safe space where you can talk freely about what’s bothering you. You shouldn’t feel judged or shamed. If they “shut you down,” it’s probably time to find a new therapist.

With that being said, your therapist may be trying to introduce a new perspective that you haven’t considered. If you feel comfortable enough, explain why you felt judged or shamed. There could have been a misunderstanding, and if that’s a case, a good therapist will address that empathetically.

Other times, a therapist is just bad. They judge you, and it’s definitely not a misunderstanding. If you’re made to feel ashamed of your body, sexuality, religion, etc., it’s definitely time to find a new therapist.

You’re not seeing improvement.

This one may not be easy to spot. Therapy doesn’t work overnight, and a lot of improvement is subtle.

For me, I noticed changes around the three-month mark when I began seeing a therapist that was a good fit. That’s a long time, but therapy takes time.

Give it some time, but also know that therapy with any therapist won’t work if you don’t put in the work as well.

You just don’t “click” with them.

Rapport with a therapist is a major factor in whether or not therapy is successful.

Your therapist may even notice if the match isn’t good before you do. They might ask if you think you’d see more improvement with a different therapist or approach.

Not clicking with a therapist doesn’t mean you or the therapist did anything wrong. Sometimes the connection isn’t there, but maybe give it a few sessions before you decide it isn’t a good match.

I had one therapist who really wanted to focus on the bipolar aspect of my life. Everything we talked about was connected back to bipolar or a symptom, so her questions were all related to symptoms. Of course, my mental illness will play a part in therapy, but it’s one aspect of my life. I prefer a more well-rounded approach.

They’re constantly running late or canceling.

Many therapist’s offices have “no-show fees,” meaning if you don’t let them know in advance you’re canceling an appointment, they may charge you a fee.

As clients, we can’t charge therapists for lost time, but our time is just as important as theirs. If your therapist is frequently canceling your appointments or running late, they’re not valuing your time. And they’re certainly not worth your money.

Like anyone else, therapists have things that come up and cause a disruption in scheduling. If it’s a constant issue, though, it’s time to look for someone new.

If your therapist is chronically running late, bring it up in session. It’s your time. Most therapy hours are 50 minutes long. It’s a pet peeve of mine when a therapist starts 10 minutes late but expects our session to still end at the original stop time.

They don’t incorporate your feedback.

If you don’t feel like you’re getting much out of the current treatment plan or framework, let your therapist know. If they aren’t open to trying a different approach or taking your thoughts into consideration, it’s time to say goodbye.

I was in a heavily structured therapy program, and while I found the group portion insightful, the individual therapy didn’t help. It actually made me feel worse when I was already severely depressed. There was no room for me to bring up what I actually wanted to talk about. When I mentioned this in therapy, it was pushed aside because it didn’t fit in the structure.

They don’t respect boundaries.

This can mean a lot of things. A relationship with a therapist is a little weird. They know intimate and vulnerable information about you, but you aren’t friends or family. There’s a professional boundary that has to be respected. Neither you or the therapist should cross that.

You may not be ready to talk about something in particular. Though a therapist may encourage you to talk about it, they shouldn’t be pressuring you to the point you’re uncomfortable with them.


Starting therapy isn’t always simple. Some things have to be sussed out, but if you give it time, there’s a possibility you’ll see improvement. At the very least, you’ll feel heard and supported (if it’s a good therapist).

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What to Expect at Your First Therapy Appointment

For nearly four years, I’ve been in and out of therapy. I’ve seen ten different therapists, which is way more than I would have liked. Some moved away. Others didn’t work out or weren’t available for more than 12 sessions (looking at you university counseling centers).

While it’s taken a while to find consistency with therapists, I’ve become somewhat of a regular with first sessions. Each therapist has had a different approach to the first appointment, but there have been some similarities.

If you’re anxious about your first appointment, here are a few things you can do and expect to feel more prepared:

Paperwork

Like any doctor’s office, you’ll have paperwork to fill out. Some places also request you print off the intake forms before your first appointment. I’ve seen a wide variety of paperwork and forms at each therapist’s office I’ve been to.

Some take 25 minutes to fill out. Others take five. You’ll give your general information such as your insurance details and address.

They may ask about your relationships and other social factors of your life. They might ask about your family history. You’ll also list any diagnoses you may already have, and if you’ve been to therapy before.

Some offices may provide you a checklist of concerns that may have brought you in. They may give you an open-ended question of “What brings you in today?”

Some places may give you questionnaires like the PHQ-9 where you rate the frequency of your symptoms. On a scale of “not at all” to “nearly every day,” you’ll rate your experience of nine signs of depression.

When it comes to paperwork, each office varies widely in what they want. The best approach is to be as honest and thorough as possible. It may feel weird to write down vulnerable information, especially if it’s your first time. Though I’d recommend still writing everything down, you will get a chance to bring it up during your first appointment.

You’ll also fill out confidentiality agreements. What you discuss with your therapist is confidential, but there are a few caveats to that. A therapist can break confidentiality if they believe you may harm yourself or others. They can also break it if they suspect ongoing child abuse.

Common Questions You’ll Hear

Even though you have spent time filling out paperwork, be prepared to answer some of the same questions in person. Your therapist needs to get an idea of why you decided to come in, and it’ll give you a chance to elaborate on what you wrote.

Your first appointment won’t really be a therapy session. It’ll be more of a “get to know you” session.

They’ll ask why you came in. For some people, it’s a vague question. You might not be able to put a lot of what you’re going through into words. Try your best, and if needed, write down your concerns/symptoms before coming in.

For others, the question may seem like there’s too much to put into a succinct answer. That’s OK. Therapy is your time, so feel free to say as much as you can.

A therapist may refer to your paperwork to get an idea of what needs to be assessed. They may ask you to elaborate on something in particular. This isn’t a time to clam up about something. If it’s hard to discuss, especially before establishing a rapport with the therapist, feel free to answer as much as possible and then let the therapist know it might be a topic to discuss later down the road when you feel more ready.

Another question you’ll probably hear is, “What do you want to get out of therapy?” When I first started therapy, I hated this question. How was I supposed to know when I’d never been through therapy before?

The question is not meant to be that serious. You’re not expected to come up with a treatment plan. Your therapist just needs to know what you’re expecting. In the beginning, my answer was a vague “to feel better.”

Maybe you’re looking for better coping skills for stress or depression. Maybe you’re wanting help regulating anger. Maybe you’re interested in building better relationships. It doesn’t need to be specific. Your therapist will work with you over time to establish the best treatment plan.

Questions to Ask a Therapist

You can ask your therapist what type of therapy they see using with you. Every therapist is different, and there are many approaches to therapy. In my experience, many therapists work with a combination of approaches. A therapist may use a cognitive-behavioral approach but could also utilize aspects of dialectical behavior therapy.

You can also ask what you can expect from therapy. Ask if your therapist assigns homework. I prefer therapy with more structure and homework. I feel like I get more out of it, but not everyone feels that way.

Ask about the frequency of therapy. They may ask you what you think would work, but they may recommend coming in once a week or every other week. Ask what’s the best way to contact them. Some therapists will prefer you email or call them directly. Others may prefer you to work with the front desk depending on how large the practice is.

The Intake Therapist May Not Be Your Actual Therapist

A couple of the practices I’ve been to have had “intake” therapists. It’s typically another therapist who works in the office. Their job is to figure out which therapist in the office may be the best fit for you. The rapport between a therapist and a client is a key component of successful therapy.

You may end up working with your intake therapist if it seems like a good fit. There’s also scheduling to consider. This setup usually happens in larger practices.


Seeking therapy can be nerve-wracking, but having an idea of what to expect may help you. You may not find a therapist that’s a good fit right away, but that’s OK. It takes strength to reach out, but scheduling your first appointment is a great first step.

5 (More) Lessons Therapy Taught Me

Nearly nine months ago, I published a piece about five hard lessons therapy has taught me. I figured it was a good time to mention a few more lessons I’ve learned recently.

I’ve been in therapy off and on since Feb. 2016. I’ve taken breaks during periods of wellness. I’ve also been unable to attend therapy due to long wait periods, financial issues, etc.

Since my last post, I’ve had to change therapists due to one moving away. I was happy with my previous one, so I was worried I wouldn’t do well with a new one. Turns out, I’ve done pretty well with my current one, though it took months for me to really feel improvement.

I can’t blame my therapist for that, though. That’s kind of how therapy has always worked for me. Improvement and effort move at a snail’s pace, but it’s still movement in the right direction. Therapy takes time, so don’t worry if you don’t see changes right away. And if you feel like you’re not clicking with a therapist, look for a new one! Not every therapist will be the right fit, and any therapist worth your time will understand that.

Here are five more lessons I’ve learned while in therapy:

1. I can’t control everything about my depression.

I have bipolar 2 disorder, and my main issue is depression. I’m not currently in a depressive episode (knock on wood), but a big fear of mine is getting stuck in one again. My last depressive episode lasted three weeks, which is quite short for me. They usually last months.

My therapist gave me a metaphor to explain “control” with depression. She told me depression is like a hurricane. You can prepare the best you can, but we can’t prevent it altogether or stop it from hitting hard.

I can find strength in what I can control. There will most likely be days when the depression is overwhelming. I can’t control that.

But I can control what I do on the better days to help prevent worse days. I can take my medications, go to therapy and my support group, etc. When my depression is severe, I can decide if I need more intensive care. No matter how bad it gets, there will be some aspect I can control, even if it’s just choosing to open my eyes in the morning or take deep breaths.

2. The fear of depression can be worse than the depression.

The operative phrase being “can be.” Depression is a horrific monster I still struggle to put into words. There’s no doubting how hard and painful depression is, but it isn’t always a severe episode.

I can have mild episodes or episodes that only last a few weeks. But I’ll spend months terrified of an impending episode. I explained this to my therapist as tiptoeing when I feel good because I don’t want to wake the giant.

I don’t trust stability or good moods because of my mood shifts. Fearing depression prevents me from taking risks or truly enjoying the good moments. I’m always waiting for the ironclad shoe of depression to drop and squish the life I have.

I’m working on not fearing the worst. I want to live my life without worrying my next depressive episode could take it all away. I might not be able to control everything about depression, but I can work on not giving it any more of my time than needed.

3. No one is made to be on top of our game 24/7.

I used to work for a media company, and I became accustomed to working 60+ hours a week. I felt guilty if I actually signed off at 6 p.m., and I rarely took a day off.

I did this for over a year, and it completely burned me out. The burnout was a major reason I experienced a seven-month depressive episode.

I still have feelings of guilt and shame that I couldn’t handle my work schedule. I feel guilty for not continuing to perform my best, though I know it is impossible for anyone to work the way I did for as long as I did.

I felt guilty my bipolar disorder was getting in the way of my work, which is ridiculous because it’s a mental illness, not a personal shortcoming. I can try to prevent mood shifts and prepare the best I can, but there’s only so much I can do.

4. Look for another perspective.

This is one of the main points of therapy. We’re told to put ourselves in another person’s shoes to gain insight into someone else’s perspective. We aren’t taught how to change the perspective of ourselves and our thoughts.

For instance, I recently increased one of my medications. I had rapid cycled for over a month, and it was clear I needed something more than therapy to get ahold of it.

I experience side effects anytime I change the dosage of this medication. I get a dry mouth, which I combat with lots of water and gum. The worst side effect, though, is how shoddy my memory becomes.

As I explained my frustration with my memory to my therapist, she had another way of looking at it. Yes, my memory wasn’t great, but my mind wasn’t spiraling downward as much. I wasn’t experiencing as many negative thoughts, and I wasn’t ruminating on them.

The medication seemed to slow my mind down. While that ruined my memory, my mind was more peaceful. I could only see the negative aspects of the med increase, but she showed me another perspective. Eventually, the memory issues outweighed the benefit of the slowed mind. I’m working on a better solution.

5. I’m where I need to be in life right now.

I have a bad habit of comparing myself to my previous selves. I’m not able to handle a job in my preferred career path right now. I don’t feel like I’m going somewhere. I was a determined kid who always thought ahead. When I had to take a break from journalism, I felt like I was somehow failing.

I’m not used to living without striving for something greater. I know this is common among my generation. A lot of us aren’t taught to work 9–5 and leave work at work. We’re always striving to move up or do better. There’s nothing wrong with this, but a lot of us have trouble with not working ourselves into the ground.

I’m meeting myself where I am instead of fighting for something more. I can handle my current responsibilities, and my mental health is improving. This doesn’t mean I’ll never push myself to do more. It simply means I’m listening to my mind and body.

If we’re constantly striving for the next thing, we’re never going to enjoy what we have.

5 ‘Affirmations’ I Use as Someone With Bipolar Disorder

I’m too much of a pessimistic realist to believe affirmations like “I am happy.” OK. I can tell myself that all day long, but it’s not going to change the fact I’m really effin’ depressed.

My affirmations are less about the end goal and more about the process. They are somewhat of a fancy way of identifying where I need to incorporate coping skills and better emotion regulation.

These are “baby” affirmations. Right now, they’re what I’m working on, but down the road, they’ll likely change.

I like to learn to be content. (1)

When I mentioned this one in therapy, it was “I’d like to learn how to be happy.” My therapist helped me change it to “content.” Happy is an emotion, and emotions are not forever. I may experience more depression than others, but no one can hold on to happiness. If you spend your time striving for “happy,” you’ll be let down.

Contentment is much more attainable. One of the things I’m learning to do is not judge or overthink my emotions. It’s more “neutral” than happy, though it’s in the same wheelhouse as happiness. I don’t feel the need to hold onto or worry about losing contentment as much as happiness.

Of course, life happens, and we can’t always feel content. But, by using coping skills and self-care, I’m able to learn how to feel more content when stressors come up.

My therapist called it “finding contentment in the face of resentment.”There are things I’d like to change in my life, but those changes are not possible at the moment. The trick is to find ways to feel content in the present despite the factors in life you’d like to change.

I like to learn to be content. 2.jpg

I used to write as a full-time job. I loved it, but depression likes to take away the things I love the most. This affirmation is quite vague. That’s on purpose. I didn’t set a specific goal of how much I need to write in a given week. My only goal is to “write more.” I’m not looking for my affirmations to add extra pressure to my life.

What this affirmation does, however, is remind me of what I want and know I can do. I’d like to write more again, and I am doing that. It’s not as much as I’d like, but I’m getting there.

This affirmation also fights self-deprecating thoughts that tell me I’m no good. I’m trying to find confidence in writing again, and this one helps with that.

I like to learn to be content. 3.jpg

This one is a bit cliche. Who doesn’t have parts of their past they’d rather forget?

Mental illness itself can be traumatic. My experience with undertreated bipolar disorder wrecked many aspects of my life. Whenever I feel down, I spiral into believing I’ll be back where I started three years ago. That severe depression and mixed state terrify me.

When I experience a depressive episode now, it’s easy to think I haven’t grown or become more resilient. But I have. My past is not who I am now.

I can learn to process my past and identify how I’ve grown without feeling sucked into it.

I like to learn to be content. 4.jpg

Depression makes me a pessimist. My entire thought process and state of mind changes. I believe that nothing will ever get better. I believe nothing (meds, therapy, other skills) is helping. It’s like I become engulfed in bipolar disorder and forget I can do things to gain back control. All coping goes out of the window, and I shut out all means of help. I become hopeless.

This affirmation helps cancel out some of my pessimism. I can learn how to manage my symptoms to minimize the risk of a severe episode. I can’t control everything that happens with my mood, but I can arm myself with tools to help. Learning how to manage my symptoms is best done when I’m feeling “stable.”

I like to learn to be content. 5.jpg

This one goes with writing more again. I am definitely passionate about writing but also learning and helping others. This is why I fell in love with journalism. It allows you to learn something new through every story, interview, and research article. I’ve always been a curious and determined person.

A part of depression is a loss of interest. When my mental illness became severe, I was stripped of the very characteristics and passions I prided myself on.

I remember what it felt like to be passionate and excited about life and my work. I haven’t been able to get back there in a while. With this affirmation, I’m not focusing on feeling passionate, but rather doing things I know I (used to) enjoy.

I’m still that person who wanted to double major in journalism and psychology— which I did—and minor in history and economics—which I thankfully didn’t do.

 


My plan is to print these affirmations off on Cardstock. On the back, I’ll write ways I’m implementing that affirmation in my life. For instance, I’d write that I’ve started attending a support group on the back of my “managing symptoms” better affirmation.

My Wackiest Mental Health Coping Skills

We all do things to destress. Some of them are common — like getting more sleep or taking a bath. Others are unique to each of us.

I use coping skills to manage my bipolar disorder, specifically my depressive episodes. I try to find things that comfort or distract me in the harder moments. Coping skills are also good for preventing an episode from getting worse.

Truthfully, coping can be annoying. When you struggle with mental illness, it can feel like you’re just coping through life because you have no other choice. I experience this, but I also know that eventually, I won’t need something to help me “cope” from moment to moment.

These three coping skills are activities I also enjoy when I’m not in need of a way to cope. If we look at things we enjoy, they can become coping mechanisms for when we struggle.

Here are three ways I cope that might seem weird to others:

I sleep on an air mattress.

I don’t know why people knock air mattresses. Have you ever slept on a really good air mattress? Heck. I even love the cheap ones that gently swallow you throughout the night as air lets out.

I don’t sleep on one often, but I do have one just in case. College friends recently visited, and I stopped one of them from deflating it before they left. I used it for about a week before I realized my back needed the relief of a real bed.

There’s something about blowing up an air mattress in my living room to watch movies that brings me back to childhood. It’s comforting and it’s comfortable — for a while.

I also find changing my environment, even if it’s just sleeping in my living room instead of my bedroom, helps with late-night restlessness. I often wake up in the middle of the night and move to my couch. If I don’t, I’ll spend hours tossing and turning in my bed.

Sometimes coping mechanisms are finding comfort and joy in small things — like sleeping on an air mattress instead of your perfectly good bed.

I take a cold shower.

I can’t take credit for this one because I learned about it in therapy. I use this one multiple times a week. It helps with everything from stress to anxiety and near-crisis moments.

Changing your body’s temperature sort of “resets” your body and mind. If I find that my head is spinning with negative thoughts, a cold shower brings me back to the present. If I can’t stop crying or calm down, the temperature helps my body do what my brain can’t.

I also live in Florida, so hot showers rarely sound appealing. What I usually do is put the shower on warm to bathe, and then turn it to cold. The initial shock is the same as if I were to jump into a pool. I focus on the sensation on my skin, and when I get out, I feel energized but calmer.

I look at real estate in other cities.

Anyone who knows me knows I. Do. Not. Like. Florida. I can’t really change where I live at the moment, but I can think about where I’d like to be.

Right now, I look at houses in Seattle. Buying a house in Seattle is a pipe dream because I’m a “millennial” (and apparently we don’t buy houses) and also because housing prices there are astronomical (which is why millennials don’t buy houses).

I grew up moving a lot, but I always enjoyed searching for a new house with my parents. Also, I watched a lot of HGTV with my mom growing up, so yes, I enjoy jumping on Zillow and looking at the craftsman houses in Seattle.

I’ve put in work to figure out what helps me with my mental illness. While some things may seem weird, they work for now. That’s all that matters.

Why I Still Go to Therapy When I Feel Well

(My fitting coffee mug this morning before therapy.)

In addition to longer blog posts, I’m now writing daily, shorter posts about life happenings and whatnot. A post a day is my goal, but, really, how much is there to blog about on days I only binge Netflix and fall asleep at 2 p.m.?


Therapy isn’t only for people who are in crisis or at their lowest point. I sought therapy three years ago during a severe depressive episode, but I’ve learned there’s a benefit to sticking with it, even when everything seems OK.

I haven’t been in therapy consistently since I started going. I’ve changed therapists, I’ve moved, and I’ve taken breaks when I’ve felt “stable.”

I started attending therapy again in September 2018 when I realized I needed help getting through my latest depressive episode. I saw her until December when she had to unexpectedly move. Now, I see someone else in the same office, but I no longer consider myself in a depressive episode.

Instead of once a week, I go every other week on Thursdays. Sometimes it feels like I have nothing to talk about because I’m still learning how to use my time effectively in therapy.

Honestly, I’m not used to going when I feel well because I’ve been more depressed over the last three years than anything else. But I’m slowly learning that therapy when I’m well is just as important as therapy when I’m not.

When I’m depressed, there are things I can’t address in therapy because they’re either too hard to talk about or there is a more pressing matter in the moment.

Therapy while I feel well gives me the space to address issues like how bipolar disorder has affected my life over the last three years. “Well Therapy” gives me a chance to more objectively analyze my thoughts and behaviors that bubble up during depressive episodes.

Therapy right now essentially helps me gain the tools and perspective I need in order to survive the next depressive episode or stressful event.

This doesn’t mean I’ll have to stay in therapy for the rest of my life. Depending on how long I feel like myself or “stable,” I might stop before my next episode. I might need to start therapy again after taking a break from it. On the other hand, my next depressive or hypomanic episode could be around the corner, and I’ll need to continue going. I don’t know.

There isn’t a time limit on healing and bettering yourself. Therapy is for whatever you feel you need it for. You don’t have to hit rock bottom to go to therapy, and you don’t have to stop going the moment you feel better.

5 Hard Lessons Therapy Taught Me

I spent the first two and a half years of college working up the courage to start therapy. At the beginning of my second semester as a junior, I finally bit the bullet and made an appointment with my university’s counseling center.

Fast forward three years later to now, I’ve gone through my fair share of therapists and only recently found one who I felt was truly helping. I have bipolar disorder type 2 and generalized anxiety with a few other things thrown into the mix. My main and most debilitating issue is depression, but this isn’t a post about my issues. Rather, it’s a post about what I’ve learned throughout these last few years sitting on couches, trying to make it one day at a time.

1. Drop that emotional wall you’ve spent years building.

OK, I haven’t quite figured this one out, but that’s why it’s a hard lesson. I learned at a young age to “swallow” my emotions and put on a neutral face. When something traumatic or negative happens, my first instinct is to go numb and survive it. I take on the role of being the brick wall who’s “unaffected” so others can be emotional. This lifelong practice has made it nearly impossible for me to express sadness or any negative emotions to others.

While I’m in therapy, I have to let that wall down, and I’d like to be able to let it down outside of therapy, too. The problem is I don’t know how. I’ve spent so much time guarding myself that I now have to learn how to express emotions. I spent a solid month in therapy just building up to talking about a particularly trying and traumatic time in my life. When my therapist and I finally began talking about it, I had no reaction to talking about it because I became an expert in compartmentalizing and removing myself from my emotions.

Compartmentalizing became my coping mechanism, but the problem is I can’t do it forever. Eventually, all that emotion I’ve buried has to come to the surface. I haven’t fully gotten there, but I’ve slowly taken down bricks in my emotional wall. I feel a little less claustrophobic as the wall comes down.

2. It’s OK to cry in session (and in places other than the shower).

This really goes along with the first lesson. I am 100 percent a shower crier. It’s only there that I feel like I can release my emotions by crying. Like I’ve said, I’ve been in therapy off-and-on for the last three years. You want to know how many times I’ve cried in session? Zero.

There’s been the occasional watery eye, but I’ve been good at keeping the real crying to the shower. I want to be able to cry in therapy. I know it’ll help me feel better, but I’ll refer you to lesson 1 about why that’s hard for me.

My therapist has told me it’s OK to cry before, and I wholeheartedly believe her. One day it’ll happen, and I’ll actually be happy that it happened. I just hope it’s not like the “don’t break the seal” rule when you’ve drunk too much.



3. You’ll only get what you put into therapy.

Talking about your week or ranting to a therapist can be helpful but in my experience, that’s not enough to see real change or feel better long term.

I prefer therapy that comes with homework. One of the things I do is fill out weekly mood charts I’ve customized to my experiences and coping skills. This helps me remember how I felt the week since my last appointment and can help identify triggers or an oncoming depressive or hypomanic episode.

There’s also less concrete homework such as challenging your thoughts. I struggle with self-doubt and negative self-talk. If I come into therapy each week and explain the same thoughts but don’t question them or challenge them, I’m not going to quiet those thoughts.

Therapy is not a passive activity, and you’re most likely paying for it. Get your money’s worth by being active in your progress.

4. You’ll learn new things about yourself, and you’re not going to like all of it.

I’m a writer. I like writing. The first time a therapist pointed out that I have a restricted emotional vocabulary, I was mad. As time went on, I realized she was right. I struggle to name my emotions past the superficial sad, happy, angry, etc.

Once I realized this, I slowly began building out my vocabulary. It’s still not where I’d like it to be, but I’ve noticed that specifying an emotion helps lessen the power it has over me. Labeling my emotions more aptly gives me the power instead of them having power over me.

Our first instinct when we learn something about ourselves we don’t like is to deny it. You’ll learn more if you consider it.

5. You have to accept and process how you feel before you try to change it.

Being patient is not my strong suit, especially if I feel miserable. There is nothing about depression that would make me want to say, “hm, I need to sit with this.” My initial reaction is to fight like hell to make it go away. Unfortunately, that usually doesn’t include assessing why I’m feeling depressed (if there is a reason). I can’t just run over the depression by keeping busy 24/7 or burning up all my coping skills (healthy and non-healthy). I need to recognize how I’m feeling and work through it.

It’s a bit like telling someone who is drowning to take a moment and reflect on drowning. It seems counterintuitive, but I’ll run myself into the ground trying to get out of the depression if I don’t first accept that I’m depressed.