The social stigma around therapy is alive and well. I’m continuously surprised by the discomfort around this topic. Through silence I’ve contributed to the stigmatization, but I refuse to any longer.
The mental health movement has done wonders. To the friends I’ve seen share their truth and struggles around mental health publicly: I see you. I honor and respect your bravery. You have contributed to a more honest, understanding society. You’ve borne witness to brothers and sisters who are struggling. I have the utmost respect for you. You are part of the solution.
The disconnect I’ve observed in our culture is this: You must have a diagnosable mental health disorder to seek therapy. If you don’t fall into this category, you’re doing well, and thus don’t need to grow. I’m calling bullshit.
I’ve gone to therapy on and off for the past 6 years. It began in response to a diagnosable disorder but evolved into something deeper. My close friends know this. They’ve heard me gush about therapists and proclaim “Everybody needs this! Why doesn’t everyone go to therapy?!”. Well, maybe it’s because everyone is so damn secretive about it. I never, in a million years, would have confessed to my first boss that I had to leave work for therapy. Instead, like a good, have-it-all-together, new college grad I needed to be excused for a “doctor’s appointment”. I’ve been open with the people who have earned my trust, but I’ve hidden from the world. From peers who I don’t feel safe with. From coworkers who I presumed to have old-school beliefs. My fear was that others, those who haven’t taken the time to know me, would assume I was damaged. Now, quite frankly, they’ll know it.
Owning your personal truth opens the door for others to own theirs. Whoosh.
I have been wounded. Who hasn’t? I learned lies from a flawed society. My parents were loving and supportive, but they were human. They couldn’t shield me from every trauma of the world. They couldn’t protect me from their own false beliefs. I started life as a carefree, joyful child. Along the way, I learned that our society functions based on comparison and judgement, and I agreed to those terms.
If you want to live a life of joy and fulfillment, you have to find the courage to break those agreements that are fear-based and claim your personal power.– Don Miguel Ruiz
Jealousy, insecurity, hatred, and judgement are learned emotional responses. Who taught you to feel these? Who told you you weren’t enough; that you needed to compare yourself to others? These are all stories you can work through and heal from in, you guessed it, therapy. The beauty of life is that now you get to choose. You get to take ownership. You have the mental and emotional capacity to change your beliefs; to rewire your brain. You don’t have to wait for a crisis. You can heal from the old wounds that you’ve stuffed deep down. You can listen to subtle cues from your mind and spirit that crave more; that crave a deeper, lighter, more loving existence.
After 2.5 years of dating, Winston and I decided we felt comfortable enough, and invested enough, to start going to therapy together. It’s beautiful to work through our personal stories with a facilitator who understands our individuality. We get to witness breakthroughs and develop a deeper level of empathy for what each of us has experienced in life. The way society tells it: If a couple is going to therapy, they must be on the verge of breakup. Well, I’m here to tell you, you don’t have to listen to the conventional narrative. You get to choose. You get to proactively work on yourself and your relationships.
Self-work is not easy, and it’s a lifelong journey. The rewards are invaluable, though. You are worth it.
You deserve a beautiful, wholehearted, free life.
*Yoga, meditation, hiking, contemplative walks, reading, running, and getting out in nature can also be great forms of self care. I am not saying therapy is the only way. None of these other forms have negative social connotations, though.
*Your journey is yours. You don’t owe it to anyone. If you aren’t ready to share your truth with the world that is A-Okay. This post is not meant to pressure. This is simply my personal journey.
*Therapists are human. If you go to one and don’t feel safe, seen, or connected, please try someone else. You deserve it.
*Recently, I’ve invested in a life coach. She does not have formal mental-health training, but I believe she can guide me in my next steps. Life coaches are a great option if you can afford them and have done the research to ensure they are qualified to meet your self-improvement needs. Please be cautious of unqualified life coaches if you’re on a mental health journey.