Two months shy of my 25th birthday, I’ve found myself as the healthiest version of Langston that I’ve ever known. I exercise (almost) daily. I throw back water like it’s at least a part-time job. I eat well enough but always save room for a handful of Trader Joe’s peanut butter cups. And, perhaps most significantly, I have the clearest mind and the most optimistic worldview that I’ve had to date. There are times when my ego gets the best of me, and, for a moment or two, I take all of the credit for this positive evolution. But truly, this perspective only began to form a few years ago, when I took my first, universe-altering step into therapy.
I entered my initial sessions with my shoulders shrugged and my mind nearly sealed shut. Until that point, I’d spent years attempting to outrun my depression, sometimes doing so literally. When I was particularly anxious, I turned to sprints or spin classes, hoping to exhaust both my body and my mind. When I was sad, I sought solace in any form of dark solitude. On the days in between, I used my schooling and my job as ways to distract myself from my evident emotional needs.
Within months, however, I was able to see the absolute wonder of therapy, the beauty of a weekly moment carved out for me to feel and process and cry. A space free of judgement and criticism, both external and self-imposed. A place where, finally, I could stop running away from myself.
In the years since, I’ve oscillated through a series of mountainous highs and uneasy lows. But through each phase, I’ve carried a handful of newly realized, stabilizing truths. I remind myself that sadness is … okay. That feelings of frustration and loneliness and pain are part of what makes me human. I stopped pouring energy into shrinking myself and, instead, worked to embrace the full and unpredictable and terrifying and gorgeous range of my own emotions. My depression, of course, never left. But I slowly felt the associated feelings of guilt and embarrassment begin to melt away.
Along with countless other lessons, therapy taught me to exhale. It taught me to offer myself grace and patience. It taught me to worry less about being The Greatest and more about being the most authentic manifestation of myself. Therapy, I have to say, is that girl.
Now, as millions of people around the world spend months sheltering from COVID-19, my weekly sessions have moved online. And although there are days when the world seems to be crumbling around me, I’ve never been more grateful for the unwavering, infallible goodness of therapy — even via Zoom.
Based in New York City, Langston Dillard is a writer, publicist, and communications strategist. He likes dancing, making vibey playlists, and collecting lip balms.
I’d spent years attempting to outrun my depression, sometimes doing so literally.