Updated: Jan 27
Small Things I did in Therapy that made life and recovery easier
When Tara first approached me to help write a few articles and share my healing process, I had no idea where to start. Like all of us in therapy and/or recovery, we start at the beginning.
For years I have struggled with anxiety, depression, PTSD and substance abuse. I have been in and out of treatment for about 6 years, but until meeting the group at Nichols Center and TEN Therapy, I hadn’t made much progress. Having therapy in the same location as a recovery wellness center allows me to come to treatment and also find a community support group for healing. I had reached a crossroads in my life, where I felt I needed and wanted serious help. So we started at the beginning, Trauma therapy.
Your “wake up” hormone is Cortisol. If you’re familiar with the hormones in your body, Cortisol is the same hormone our brain releases whenever we feel stress. I never knew why I struggled so much with anxiety until I made this connection. Our simple solution- make myself a serious morning routine to help give me more time to allow my body and brain to adjust. I started by simply waking up earlier, getting up and stretching (yoga if you can), and avoiding my normal cup of coffee because caffeine can trigger anxiety. This allowed me more time to feel settled, I could make up my bed, plan my day, enjoy the first few moments of my morning and do some de-stressing if needed.
Another small step I took was changing my mindset on my recovery. I always had this awful feeling and guilt about needing help. Specifically, needing medication. Through art therapy, I painted my pill container. The process of painting was soothing, and allowed me to be creative. What I once hated looking at and opening each morning, I smile at. The Days of the week are still there (re-painted), but there’s now a message that says “Healing doesn’t have to be linear,” with a heartbeat. It’s a good reminder each morning that healing has its ups and downs, however, I am no less of a person for taking my medication, just as someone with diabetes should feel no shame taking their blood sugar and having orange juice in the mornings.
Daily journaling and mood tracking- I began a journal, with three sections. One to track my current medications and dosages for the month. One to track my mood each day, or moods. As well as one section to journal anything important about my day. Some days, my journal entries say “I didn’t cry today.” and while that may seem silly, it can mean so much when my entire week was spent in tears and very depressed. This also helps me discuss with Tara and my Psychiatrist how my medication may be affecting me, and if we need to adjust them.
The last small step that to me has been the largest step, has been minimizing. Physically, I have worked on minimizing my house. Clutter tends to make my anxiety much worse. So I began donating things. I had years and years of things I had just kept, and never realized how the growing clutter in the house was leading me to feel overwhelmed. How could I clean when I had no idea where to start? So each weekend I tackled a small area of the house, and anything I didn't need, I donated to Goodwill or even somethings to the Nichols Center (Tara, art supplies coming your way!). By decluttering the house and donating to help others, I had less to clean, less to keep clean, and the gratification that I was helping myself and others.
Still Going Strong
If you haven’t read the self help book on DBT therapy (I’ll include a link below), it is a guided workbook with exercises to control your anxiety and depression. I would highly recommend it as a good read if Tara doesn’t have you actively working on another book. I am still attending weekly session with Tara at TEN Therapy and finally at a place where I can start giving back to the create a community support system for my recovery. I am doing EMDR treatment, CBT treatment, this DBT workbook, and connecting to other support groups. I celebrate my healing journey one day at a time.
-A Grateful Patient and Advocate for Nichols Center, Inc