A wonderful advocacy group I follow on facebook, Hannah’s Heroes shared this meme on their Facebook page over the weekend.
I see things like this all the time, and I think: “YES! We need to end the stigma around mental health care!”
And, I would like to add to this.
Yes, going to can and should be like going to the doctor when you’re sick.
But it can also be like going to an emotional personal trainer or the gym.
Poor emotional skills and destructive habits are hard to change and have this nasty habit of working “just a little bit.” If you don’t have something new to try when a stressful or difficult situation comes up, you’re just going to keep having the same problems over and over again.
One session with a therapist isn’t necessarily going to give you the skills you need to fix the habits and coping mechanisms you’ve developed over a lifetime.
You might have to go back, again and again, week after week, as you learn to be yourself, as you learn to feel your feelings and deal with them instead of stuffing them, projecting them, eating them, or lashing out at the people you love.
I started seeing a therapist when I realized that all of my most emotionally healthy and resilient friends were currently working with a professional, and I was hanging out at home reliving the same issues over and over again and reading Brené Brown books to try and “test out” of therapy and drinking wine and eating chocolate chip cookies to dull the pain. (And Brene Brown is wonderful and I highly recommend every word she’s ever written)
Actually seeing a therapist (instead of thinking about therapy, talking about how great therapy is for “other people,” and wondering how you find a therapist) kind of sucked at first.
Learning to act, be, feel, and respond in new ways did not come easily, and I messed up a lot. I had to ask for forgiveness and apologize to my husband, my kids, my self.
But, over time you start to notice a difference.
You start to catch yourself before you fall down in the spiral of depression.
You start to take care of yourself before your emotional gas tank is totally empty.
You start to ask for help instead of thinking that you really can do all on your own.
You start to realize that you suddenly have a lot more time now that you aren’t spending days reliving your worst moments, agonizing about some upcoming thing, or just feeling so nebulously sad that it takes all your energy to just go through the motions of your day.
You have so much more time. And energy. And presence.
So, yes. Go to the doctor. But also recognize that it may have taken awhile to get to this point, and you might need a guide to help you out. And just like when you go to the doctor, sometimes it isn’t the right fit; and you need a second or third or fourth opinion – that is okay, and sometimes it’s part of it. But it’s important. Because whatever you’re going through can be gotten through. But often it requires help.