This isn’t something we talk about in the South, but I’ve been seeing a therapist for about four months.
We’ve got this idea we should “pull ourselves up by the bootstraps” and to do anything else-to ask for help-is not respectable. It keeps a lot of people from seeking counseling and many of the ones who do hide it like a dirty secret. This is absolutely a problem and one of the reasons we need to talk about it more.
But for me, the reason I hesitated to go (and now hesitate to talk about it) is because I don’t want anyone to worry. After all, it’s Not That Bad.
There are days I feel like I can’t get out of bed because there’s no point to it, but inevitably I do get up and get to work, albeit a little late. But I’m late on good days too, so that’s really nothing. I’ve felt so anxious I feel like I’m going to vomit and I can’t quite pinpoint why. There are days any little thing can make me cry or send me into a rage, but everyone has bad days, right? These things affect my life, even stop me sometimes, but they never stop me for longer than a day or so. So, clearly, whatever is happening in my head is Not That Bad.
In fact, as I talk to my therapist, I keep expecting her to say that I’m overreacting and there’s nothing wrong with how I’m feeling. But, as she does say, mental problems fall on a spectrum, and just because they don’t affect my life as badly as they might someone else’s, it doesn’t mean they aren’t affecting me.
In actuality, every time I’ve started going to counseling, it’s because someone else has noticed a long-term, negative effect on my life. All while I keep saying I’m fine and it’s Not That Bad.
If you’re there, here’s my advice: don’t wait until it is That Bad. You do not need to be a stone’s throw from a total mental break before you seek help. Anything that is consistently having a negative impact on your life is already bad enough.
There are some days I think it’s not working and it’s not getting any better. Then there are days I go and I actually feel better when I leave. Maybe it’s not for everyone but, overall, I think it’s good for me.
I’m talking about it because it may be good for someone else too. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about and it doesn’t have to be a last resort.