Very recently one of my friends asked me how I’m so “chill” even with 3 young kids. I laughed because I don’t feel very chill… and then said “Therapy. Lots and lots of therapy.” Cause don’t worry, I’m a mess inside. I worry about everything. But therapy has given me the tools to manage that anxiety and move forward in my life. I love therapy. Like, really love it. Like, I never want to stop even though sometimes I run out of things to talk about. Ok, that’s not true, I always have something to talk about.
I have been in therapy off and on since I was 16. But nothing like having some postpartum anxiety after my first baby was born to kick it into gear again. It’s like my whole life was preparing for the moment(s) I would be consumed by parenting. Sometimes it feels like a joke from the universe. “You thought studying for that college exam was stressful…HAHAHAHA. How’s it going with three kids 4 and under?”
It’s going ok, thankyouverymuch, universe. (thanks to…..therapy!)
So many people are embarrassed by going to therapy, and I so totally get that. That was me until about…a few weeks ago, a day ago, hitting post on this blog? Nothing monumental happened, but years of knowing in my heart that we need to be more forgiving of ourselves, supportive of our friends and family who need therapy and realizing that going to therapy isn’t a sign of weakness finally all clicked for me very recently. Cue blog post.
Let’s clear the air on some very misinformed concepts that I have heard about people who go to therapy.
- Someone who goes to therapy is weak, unable to cope because of a personal fault, and probably a little weird. Well shoot, that’s a little harsh! But, sadly, pretty common misconception that I have heard several times. I might be a little biased, but I genuinely believe seeking help for any struggle or challenge is a sign of strength. Wanting to learn how to overcome personal struggles is absolutely a sign of maturity, intelligence and selfless kindness. It’s impossible to support others, be your best self, and give the way you want if you are overwhelmed with personal challenges. And, fyi, we’re all a little weird!
- Therapy is a waste of time- what happened in your childhood is not important now, live in the present, don’t live in the past. Hmmmm….several things. Therapy isn’t all about discussing your childhood. However, if you do discuss your childhood, learning about the ways in which certain childhood experiences have shaped your current, adult perspective, relationships and comfort level is incredibly important for understanding the “why” of you today! Does that mean it’s an excuse to carry a chip on your shoulder, obviously not. But, you can learn from your history, work on new ways to think about things and move forward with a healthier attitude! You’re not walking around with a big chip on your shoulder, you’re walking around with knowledge, and knowledge is power.
- Needing therapy is so embarrassing, I should just be able to get my act together. I’ve got some questions for you. Do you need an annual wellness check from your physician? Do you need to go to the dentist twice a year to get your oral health checked? Do you need to make sure you eat healthy foods, exercise, have fun, find hobbies, enjoy life? It seems bizarre to me that one would want to take care of every aspect of their body except their minds. The very essence of their being. Of course there are other ways to take care of your mind, but why be embarrassed about one option to keep your mental health in tip-top shape?
- Ok, I do go to therapy, but I’m not going to tell anyone. That’s weird to tell people, what will they think?! Ok, I get that. I totally get that. I don’t think going to therapy is weird, but I do get wanting to keep certain aspects of your life private. I also think that if talking about mental health were more socially acceptable and having a psychological evaluation had less stigma, we might have a healthier community. This isn’t the “fix it” ticket for the increased mental health struggles, I’m not naive, but I do think we need to break down the barriers for people to feel comfortable accessing resources for their mental health.
Acknowledging my limitations, working hard towards being the person I want to be and learning the tools I need for coping with my worry brain have made me a much better person, and there is no way I could have done that, or continue to do that, without therapy.
I don’t think it’s necessary to share with everyone I meet that I go to therapy. In fact, it rarely comes up in conversation. But, I’ve started mentioning it when it’s relevant. Maybe if we can break down the wall of “perfection” and “I’m fine” and recognize that more people than we think need extra support for their emotional health we can change the attitude to: not only is it ok to seek help, it’s a sign of strength, intelligence and maturity.