Why aren’t you going to therapy? (The myths and stigma of therapy)

I’m not crazy or suicidal. It’s not that bad. 

But don’t you want it to be better? There are actually very few people who I know who I don’t think would benefit from therapy at some point in their life. Therapy doesn’t have to be only for those who are fighting severe mental illness, therapy can be used to get past tough spots in your life. It helps you gain a different perspective. It helps to train your mind to react differently to situations and as a result, you can eliminate bad habits or at least reduce unproductive behavior. It helps you learn your triggers and better understand how your brain and emotions work. As well as to realize the difference between thinking and feeling. Learning and knowing these things make a difference in most of your interactions throughout the day.

I already tried it and it doesn’t work.

How long did you go? How often did you go? Did you like your therapist and the type of therapy that they were using? Therapy, like many other aspects of life, is a trial and error process. I have had a few therapists, each are helpful in one way or another, they have brought me a long way, but I am still not sure if I have found the right one. You have to find someone who you are comfortable with, who can understand you, who remembers where you left off each time and who can provide feedback in a way that is helpful. My last therapist was kind, insightful and experienced, but some feedback was slightly inappropriate and off-the-wall. I had another therapist who talked a little too much about Jesus for my comfort level. And then a psychiatrist who made me feel like I was talking to a wall. Therapists are people. Some people you click with, some you don’t. Take time to find the right one. Ask friends you trust (and who seem like they are seeing positive results) for references. Research what type of therapy makes the most sense for your situation. (I have found Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to work the best for depression.) And then figure out the right frequency. I was going weekly when things were really bad, but now I go every 2-3 weeks. Finally, give it time. It is like exercise, you won’t see results immediately. You have to work at it, chip away at it a bit at a time.

I tried it and it always made me feel worse.

Yeah, that can happen initially. It is hard. Really hard. It makes you think and talk about things that you don’t want to talk or think about it. It makes you dig deep and understand why you react the way that you do. It makes you wonder which thoughts are rational and which thoughts are not. It makes you question yourself. And if you’re me, you cry. You cry a lot. My last therapist kept joking that I owed him tissues. (Or at least I think he was joking.) I might leave therapy feeling relieved, like a weight has been lifted, but I never leave there feeling happy. I usually feel pretty lost leaving the office. It is gradual. Typically a couple days after a session a light bulb goes off and I start to understand how to apply what I learned into my life. And those gradual changes have made my life easier to live. My days easier to handle. And my thoughts easier to understand.

I don’t need help. I can figure this out on my own.

I like to think of therapists as personal trainers for your mind. Sure, you can work out on your own, but depending on your current condition and your goals, you might need a personal trainer to help you exercise. If you want to learn how your mind works and the best way to train it, you may need to find a therapist. An expert who will listen to you specifically and help you create a customized solution to tackle your problems. You can do plenty of work on your own, but rarely will you hold yourself as accountable as you when you pull in someone else.

I don’t want someone to tell me how to live my life.

They don’t tell you what to do. They try to lead you there. To gradually pull you along a trail so that you eventually figure out the right decision on your own. This can be frustrating for some (me), when you just want someone who has seen this and heard this before to tell you what to do, but a good one won’t. They want you to weigh out the pros and cons and understand your decision and its consequences so that you can make the decision that is best for you.

I don’t want people to know I have a therapist.

So don’t tell anyone. Although this will only further the stigma. If it works. If it helps you, why wouldn’t you tell people? This will help break the stigma. I want to scream from the top of my lungs that therapy is helpful so that I can help break the stigma. It is a treatment. It is a step toward improving yourself, why would anyone be ashamed of that? This stigma is killing people. People are afraid to admit that they are battling mental illness. They are afraid to get help and some are choosing to end their lives instead. There is no better way to explain the grave danger of this stigma. And one of the ways that we can fight it is to be open with each other and talk about it.

It’s too expensive.

This is a legitimate concern. It is expensive. Mental illness is not receiving the attention and the coverage it needs from healthcare providers. This is another reason why we need to continue to increase the awareness of mental illness and the vast number of people who are affected by it.

 

So, please, please, please if you feel like something is just not quite right or that you are in a rut you can’t pull yourself out of or you have tried medication and everything else, but you still don’t feel like yourself, talk to a professional. Ask for help. Things can get better. Things do get better. Don’t wait.

Therapy

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2 thoughts on “Why aren’t you going to therapy? (The myths and stigma of therapy)

  1. Great post! I actually think that the biggest misconception about therapy seems to be with the Baby Boomer generation- it’s very foreign and unacceptable to them. Our generation seems to have a bit more of a more of an open mind with this type of thing…I hope that means Generation Z will feel even more comfortable with treatment.

    Liked by 1 person

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