In my first post, I shared that I have anxiety and depression. It’s not particularly easy for me to put it out there, but I think it’s important to.
Am I the most anxious or the most depressed person out there? Probably not. I’m just saying I definitely experience anxiety (sometimes about things that make total sense and other times about things that aren’t really logical) and different degrees of depression as well. Sometimes depression is situational and expected, like in the aftermath of my Mom passing away last year, and other times, it hits me for no particular reason at all.
In the same way that I take medication to treat my Crohn’s, I also take it to help with my anxiety and depression. And yet for some reason, I’ll talk about taking prednisone or Stelara for Crohn’s ‘til the cows come home, but I’ll drop my voice to a whisper if I’m sharing that I take shhhhh medicine for <exaggerated mouthing> de pre ssion and an xi e ty.
So the stigma’s still there. I try to fight it, but I feel it. But I figured I would take this opportunity to share a little piece of advice: Get yourself a therapist.
I mean it. I think there are very few people who DON’T need to see a therapist for one reason or another. It is one of the best things I have done for myself. I like to think of it as a spa for the spirit. Of course, there’s the whole insurance and financial piece that can make it difficult to get the ball rolling, but if you are the only thing standing between you and therapy, I’m here to tell you: get out of your own way and go for it.
One of the best “gifts” a close friend gave to me was the gentle push to find a therapist again. She knew I had seen one in college and early adulthood when I lived in the Boston area, and that, when I moved with Rick and Ryan to California for a year, I took a break. After we returned to the east coast, I got together with this friend and she reminded me that, now that I was going to be settled again, it might be a good idea to find a new therapist in New Hampshire.
And I’m so glad she said it. I wasn’t opposed to it, I was just kind of in my not-going-to-therapy groove and it just hadn’t really occurred to me.
Finding a therapist is definitely a task. And even when you find someone on paper, it doesn’t always mean that person is a good “match.” You should really connect with that person – and sometimes that takes a few sessions to figure out if it’s a good fit. If you not “ vibin’ ” as Ariana Grande would say, then you start over with someone else. thank u, next.
It’s kind of like dating. Except when you’re dating you don’t usually frontload all your issues into the first 45 minutes of meeting someone…usually. That’s a post for another day. And it was three dates in, okay!??!
I’ve stuck with therapy even during “good” and “uneventful” times, and I’m happy I have, because that support was already in place when things got harder. If you’ve been thinking that you would benefit from therapy but you’re feeling pretty good at the moment, it might seem counterintuitive, but this would actually be an excellent time to get going on it.
Sadly, my local community is reeling from a recent middle schooler’s suicide. And this isn’t unique to my town. We all have to start approaching mental health differently.
In an attempt to do so, our school district is having a speaker come to talk to parents about signs of emotional distress, which I think is wonderful, and I’ll take any help I can get. The more information, the better. But wouldn’t it be great if we were tackling mental health before it got to a level of distress? If our mental health was treated as important as our physical health? If check-ins with therapists were considered preventative care like dental cleanings? And if that all started really early on in life, like well-child visits/annual physicals?
I’m also going to propose this: maybe we need to lead by example. Maybe the best gift you can give your child or children is going to therapy yourself. Why? It sends the message that you deserve to take care of yourself. And that mental health is as normal and important as physical health. Secondly, it can help to make your relationships and your home environment healthier, and that’s good for everyone. And third, your child or children will see that if they are struggling with something, if they have things they want to discuss privately with a professional, it’s okay.
Also, this doesn’t just apply to parent/child relationships. You may influence a co-worker, a bestie, a bae, a roommate, a significant other, a frat bro, your hair stylist, a barista, a gym buddy, or dog park friend to seek help, by your example. That doesn’t mean you have to shout it from a rooftop, either. But you might share it with select, trusted friends (like your favorite barista–Shout out to mine, Andrew at the Target Starbucks!–) at the appropriate time.
Going to therapy doesn’t mean you’re weak. Or crazy. Or weird. It doesn’t mean you had a bad childhood. Or that you have a troubled marriage. Or that you’re on the brink of suicide.
It does mean that life is hard. Relationships are hard. Not having a relationship is hard. Illness is hard. Parenthood is hard. Work is hard.
Going to therapy has helped me more than I can say. And I hope that, if you’ve ever thought that it might be helpful for you, that you’ll join me. Not in one of my sessions, though. That would be weird.