I know that we all must be so tired of hearing and reading the word “unprecedented” by now, but there doesn’t seem to be a better word to describe what the past 10 months have been like. We’re all dealing with quite a bit of stress, and on an individual basis, there might be things happening in our lives and with our mental states that we need to get help to deal with. The decision to seek out therapy is an incredibly personal one, and the journey looks different from person to person, but doing so can be incredibly beneficial for everybody.
There’s still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health, and this is especially true if you are Black, Indigenous, or a person of color. Persons from these cultures are often socialized to believe that mental health is a minor issue compared to life’s many tangible hardships, or that religion is a panacea. But trauma and brain chemistry are real factors that influence mental health, and most times it takes more than willpower and pep talks to overcome what ails us. There are many reasons why people decide to start therapy. Here are some that may resonate with you.
Trauma and brain chemistry are real factors that influence mental health, and most times it takes more than willpower and pep talks to overcome what ails us.
Therapy as a Form of Self-Care
We’re all incredibly beautiful, wonderfully complex human beings making our way through this thing called life on our different paths, and we deserve the time and attention it takes to work through our various issues. We deserve to have a qualified person walk us through our ups and downs and help us live fuller, unburdened lives.
Ignore the voice in your head that tells you your issues are too minor in comparison to what other people face. Your pain and trauma are just as valid, so if you need help, seek it out. If you felt physically ill, you would get some rest or take some medication, so why not do the same for your mind?
To Deal with COVID-19 Stress
There has understandably been quite an uptick in the amount of therapy being sought out by people everywhere, and for many, current events have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. So much is at play, from fears about contracting the virus, grief over loved ones who have passed away, loneliness from isolation, separation from family, anxiety about financial uncertainty, and so much more. It can all be overwhelming, and baking bread can only do so much to alleviate the pressure.
To Deal With Past Trauma
Sometimes incredibly painful things happen to us, and we either are not equipped to deal with it at the time or do not have access to the resources we need. The effects of trauma do not simply go away and can continue to affect us. And a lot of the time, we develop coping mechanisms that sometimes can manifest subconsciously, influencing our choices without our cognizance.
It takes a licensed professional like a therapist to dig through all the emotional debris to find the root cause of the issue because they are trained to understand the way the human mind works and see connections that the average person might not. Therapy is a transformative process that can help you leave the pain of the past behind.
If You Feel Misunderstood
Conditions like depression and anxiety aren’t things that everyone understands. Some people cannot conceive of a world in which everyone else isn’t as happy and unhindered as they are, and can be unsupportive of those who suffer from mental health issues. Sadly, it’s common to be treated as though your feelings are being exaggerated when you express sadness or unease that doesn’t seem to have an apparent cause.
Getting confirmation that your concerns are legitimate can be incredibly validating when you feel as though those closest to you do not comprehend or sympathize with your pain, and therapy can provide that. Having at least one person in your life who listens without judgment and is committed to your mental wellbeing can make a world of difference.
To Find New Coping Strategies
We all find a variety of methods to cope with life’s stressors, and sometimes those coping mechanisms, while providing temporary relief, can be harmful to us in other ways. For instance, you might indulge in a little retail therapy every time you’re feeling low, but that can put a real strain on your finances. Or you might turn to the comforts of alcohol to escape your problems, but all that drinking can take a toll on your body and it can also become an inescapable habit. It’s important to find healthy coping strategies to manage and minimize stress, as well as boost confidence levels. A therapist can walk you through your options and help find the right one for you.
To Unburden Yourself Without Feeling Judged
Sometimes when you get overwhelmed, you just want to talk to someone. But the problem with reaching out to friends and family sometimes is that most people automatically try to fix the problem instead of simply offering a sympathetic ear, or don’t understand where you’re coming from. Oftentimes, these same people might offer advice that worked for them, without considering whether it’s relevant to your situation because their worldview is different. And other times, you may not feel comfortable divulging sensitive information to a familiar person. Therapy provides a forum for you to vent your frustrations free from judgment, and the security of HIPAA laws to protect your privacy.
No matter what your motivations for considering therapy are, know that they are important and that you can get the help you need. Making the decision to start speaking to a therapist is the first step to better mental health, and it only gets better from there. These days there are services like TalkSpace or BetterHelp, which offer professional counseling through a subscription-based model. If you cannot afford these options, Mental Health America has a list of resources that you can use to find free or reduced-cost counseling.
If you’re currently in therapy, I’m happy for you and the progress that you’ve made. And if you’re considering it, I’m proud of you for taking the first step. There are better days ahead.