One of the most precious things in life is your mental health. It is so important to safeguard it. I have seen three separate therapists in my life. My time with two of the therapists was shortlived. The other was a long relationship. They have all helped me tremendously. Therapy is not a dirty word. I have seen plenty of doctors for my physical health.
Why does seeing a doctor for your mental health need to have such a negative connotation?
The first time I sought treatment, I was so secretive about the issue. I stayed very vague when I talked about it. I'd usually say I have an appointment. If someone ever followed up, I would lie. I was constantly "correcting paperwork" at the university. The truth is, I was running from “the look”. You know, the look. The one that says, “Oh my goodness how sad for you, here take all my pity.” I felt like I couldn’t be honest because I never wanted to be viewed as damaged or broken.
I was 20 years old when I first walked into a psychologist’s office. While I was terrified, it was the best decision of my life. I recognized that I needed help and sought out a professional to discuss what I was going through. I was actively seeking tools to help me cope. Through all of my experiences with therapy, I recognized that I wasn’t admitting defeat in asking for help. I was damn brave.
The next time I saw a therapist I was 23. I had just started recovering from my car accident and I was angry. I knew if I didn’t seek help, the anger I was feeling was only going to get worse. Because I wasn’t mobile I tried therapy online through BetterHelp. I had access to the portal 7 days a week and could log on whenever I wanted. It gave me the freedom to share as much or as little as I wanted on a certain subject. Jay, my therapist, was an angel. He made it possible for me to feel validated in my feelings while simultaneously helping me back away from the edge of a breakdown. Just because I had valid reasons to be angry and upset didn’t mean that was the end of it. I had to recognize that people other than myself had valid feelings as well. I couldn’t just cast out their opinions because they didn’t agree with mine.
I started seeing Dr. Brad when I was 24. I was dealing with a big move across the state and it brought up a lot of residual feelings from the culmination of my life. These feelings became not only uncomfortable but also a little scary. I found myself wanting to run and hide from those feelings. Dr. Brad called out my desire to hide within my comfort zone. While I may have felt comfortable there, I’d stay stagnate there as well. I have to commend Dr. Brad though. He’s honest, to a fault. He knew I needed brutal truth in our sessions and that is what I got. My desire to control every aspect of my life was like trying to grip sand in my fists. I’d just end up watching the sand slowly slip through my fingers. I was powerless to change certain aspects of my reality. He told me time and time again, "You can’t go to a coke machine and expect champagne." I had to take the good when it came and deal with the bad the best way I could. I couldn’t lash out just because something played out differently than I wanted. I have to remind myself every day that no matter the circumstances, I am strong enough to handle anything. I can figure out life. I just have to stop doubting myself. Therapy is no longer a dirty word for me. I don’t think I am perfect, but I am better than I was, and I am so grateful for that.
I like to think of everything in terms of Wabi -Sabi: the aesthetic acceptance that there is beauty in imperfection. There is an old Japanese practice of repairing broken pottery with gold. The gold highlights the imperfections and yet still brings beauty to the piece. Therapy is like that for the soul. The gold has been inlaid in all my cracks and open spaces. I am whole. I am beautiful. I am different in the places I need to be but am still very much my original self. That is all I ever wanted.
Until next time readers…