I recently started to see a therapist, to keep my mental health in check. However, it can be a challenge to accept when it’s time to start seeking professional help because of the stigma attached to treating mental health issues. We’d like to break down some misconceptions about what it means to talk to a mental health professional and give you a few reasons why it might be a good idea to start seeing a therapist.
Note: I am not a mental health professional and the story to follow is anecdotal. If you think you are experiencing mental health problems, consult with a professional. But I do hope this might inspire you to go out and find the help you need and deserve.
Seeing a therapist can often be perceived as a sign of weakness or as a pointless exercise by many. However, this is because of the social stigma and what we’ve been conditioned to believe about what it means to be mentally unwell.
And in a moment in human history where most, if not all, of our material needs are met (at least those of us who are lucky), malnourishment manifests in stress, anxiety and depression. We spend at least half of our waking hours behind an office desk, worrying about our finances, our futures, our relationships, traumas all at once – and in the 21st Century, it’s been compounded by the presence of social media. it’s a miracle that any of us are holding it together. But many of us aren’t. We put on brave faces and sweep it all under the rug.
But why? You routinely go to the dentist, don’t you? If you break your arm, you go to the hospital right? Your mind is significantly more critical for your overall well-being than your arm is. And it’s naive to think that you’re able to heal your emotional and psychological wounds any more effectively, without help, than you can a broken arm.
So, on a personal level, I have lived with depression pretty much since I was a kid and I go through long spells of masochistic mental torture from time to time. I’ve seen a few therapists, taken a few anti-depressants. And recently, I went through a pretty bad spell but managed to come out of it relatively unharmed. However, I may feel good today, but that doesn’t mean I’m healthy.
Mental health problems are never cured. Dark feelings come back, and they do so at the worst times too. So I took it upon myself to book an appointment with a therapist just so that I can stay on top of my feelings and be in control to keep the good times going, in a sustainable fashion. And my happiness rests on my commitment to come to terms with various things, to overcome obstacles and to learn new coping strategies.
However, everyone’s different, and my experience is not the same as yours. But perhaps you, like me, would just like to stay on top of things and use a therapist in the same way one would a gym… just to stay fit. If you are unsure whether you might need to see a therapist, HuffPost‘s Lindsay Holmes provides us with a list of reasons to go see a therapist:
- You’re experiencing unexpected mood swings.
- You’re undergoing a big change.
- You’re having harmful thoughts.
- You’re withdrawing from things that used to bring you joy.
- You’re feeling isolated or alone.
- You’re using a substance to cope with issues in your life.
- You suspect you might have a serious mental health condition.
- You feel like you’ve lost control.
- Your relationships feel strained.
- Your sleeping patterns are off.
- You just feel like you need to talk to someone.
Perhaps you didn’t think it was necessary to see a therapist and a few things on that list (or another one, here) resonated with you. And it might make you think twice, hopefully. It takes courage to admit that you need help. But don’t underestimate how necessary it is.
Still not convinced? Let’s break down some of the benefits of seeing a therapist on a regular basis, as discussed in PsychCentral and reasons why you should:
- Reason #1: Friends and Family Can’t Be Your Only Outlet
- Reason #2: Self Care
- Reason #3: Realize Alternative Perspectives
- Reason #4: Finding Meaning
- Reason #5: Discover New Coping Strategies
I’m certainly no professional and can’t offer any of my readers appropriate advice for whatever personal battles they’re facing. But what I can do is encourage you all to think about where you are at, mentally, and whether help is needed.
Finally, and on an even more serious note, if you or someone you know is suicidal, visit one of the websites below and read this article on What to Do When You’re Thinking About Suicide.