Here's the story of Freya, who was fabulously self-sufficient and independent and didn't need anybody; and how Freya eventually came to discover that getting help could actually be the ultimate in DIY.
When Freya was just ten years old, she decided that she was not going to be someone who depended on anyone for anything.
She didn't need help.
And she certainly wasn't going to ask for it.
Her strategy worked well. She got good marks at school, and went to an excellent university.
She had lots of friends; but no truly intimate relationships.
Freya prided herself on being self-sufficient: emotionally, practically, and in every way she possibly could.
At Uni, Freya was always the person to turn to if a button fell off your blouse and you needed a needle and thread.
She was a fantastic listener and knew how to empathise and when to give helpful advice.
She always knew the times of the late-night buses, and she never lost her keys.
And sometimes Freya 'disappeared' for days on end. No-one knew where she went, but she always seemed fine when they next saw her, so no-one worried about her.
No-one realised that Freya was suffering increasingly from horrendous, crippling anxiety.
She worked hard to hide it, because she didn't want anyone to think she wasn't 'absolutely fine'.
And of course Freya did everything she possibly could, to stop feeling so anxious, stressed and overwhelmed.
When Freya took an overdose (thankfully it didn't kill her or cause lasting damage) everyone was astonished. She had always been so self-sufficient, so independent - the last person to need help!
But here's the thing. Freya's self-sufficient persona was a kind of 'false self'. It had masked her vulnerability so effectively that even she had not been aware of it.
It was hard for Freya to accept that she needed help, and to begin working with a therapist.
At first, she felt that going to therapy was a huge sign of weakness, and was keen to get it over with as soon as she could.
In fact, the only reason she allowed herself to start therapy was because her anxiety symptoms had become so uncontrollable and all-encompassing that she'd had to give up almost everything: work, travel, outings with friends.
Gradually, over many sessions with her therapist, Freya became more and more able to contact her authentic inner core self. Slowly she practised being herself (in all her various aspects) in relationship with her therapist, who gave her helpful feedback, support and challenge.
Here's what Freya discovered:
- Even the most self-sufficient person needs help sometimes.
- Expert help (from a registered counsellor or therapist) may be the most effective way to get the kind of help that'll 'stick' so you can change and grow in the ways that you'll benefit from the most.
- When your therapist is with you, and you realise that they don't get freaked-out by your emotions, you gradually learn how to tolerate and manage them yourself. And when you can tolerate your feelings, they have less of a hold over you. You find you can feel your feelings, and then - wow - they pass on.
- Learning how to be yourself in the therapy relationship (and maybe, like Freya, you previously had no idea what genuinely 'being yourself' even was) is a fabulous starting point for building other relationships in which you can be yourself (think friendships, romance, and even workplace connections).
Here's the biggest thing Freya learned:
Getting help from your counsellor, psychotherapist or Art Psychotherapist is actually DIY.
Why? Because you are the one who makes the changes.
You are the one who actually turns your life around.
Your therapist is there to support, guide and facilitate, but they can't actually 'do therapy to you'.
So if you're a self-sufficient, independent, do-it-yourself kind of person, don't worry.
Therapy helps you get even better at the DIY, because you learn ways that you can be in truly genuine relationships with people. Relationships that allow you to be yourself, and to let the other person be him/herself with you.
What a freedom!