Updated: Apr 20, 2020
Hello Beautiful World and all of the Queens who inhabit it!
Continuing with the momentum from my post last week, I’m going to blow another topic wide open. Of course, this is also one that’s generally uncomfortable.
Where did the stigma attac
hed to therapy come from? My guess is it started back in the not-so-distant past when mental health was blissfully ignored. But that’s not the only place it came from.
Culture, up-bringing, generational tendencies, and media portrayal ALL have contributed to this stigma. Ultimately, the idea makes people nervous, as if admitting that they need or are currently seeking outside help is shameful. Even worse, that it will reflect negatively on their family or on their relationships if word got out that they were going to therapy.
Why is that the case?
The reality is, many of the people in your world are, or have been, in therapy. I’m talking celebrities, parents, teachers, bosses, friends, siblings, even the goddess that makes your venti sugar-free caramel macchiato at Starbucks every morning. The point is, it’s NORMAL. Furthermore, a study done by Bradley University in 2014, showed that 47.4% of Americans will experience a mental health problem during their lives, at one point or another.
In a nutshell: we’re all a bunch of loose cannons and could really use some help.
I have my own experience with this and, just like many, I had my reservations about therapy. I thought it was for people battling with severe personality disorders, or for those who experienced serious trauma when they were younger. I thought I was above it. I thought I could handle my problems on my own, or through a couple wine-night vent sessions with my girlfriends.
It wasn’t until I was in college, after I had let a friend in on just how broken I was, that it occurred to me that I should talk to someone. Mind you, this was after I had a total meltdown after too many vodka-pepsi’s at a house party. [Reference: this was during the first relationship outlined in Caution: This Gets Emotional] She suggested that I see one of the free counselors at the wellness center, so I did. I was desperate.
It was VERY uncomfortable, at first. I don’t like admitting when something is wrong with me, physically or mentally. I mean, who does? So when it came time to fill out the admittance form outlining why I came in to the office that day, I felt like a pathetic loser. But something in me knew I was doing the right thing and that it, if anything, could not possibly make things worse. I pushed on through the feelings of embarrassment, self-disgust, and even the ones that had me convinced that I did not belong there because my issues weren’t “serious enough.”
The feeling I had after that first session changed everything. I felt heard, understood, like my feelings were validated, AND I was given alternative ways to look at and deal with my pain. It was wild!
From that moment on, I was hooked…. untilllll I graduated and “free therapy” quickly became a thing of the past.
It wasn’t until five years later that I looked into going again…. It was always sort of in the back of my mind, but once again, my ego took over and I was convinced that my issues did not exist, that any “discomfort” I felt could easily be solved on my own.
Wrong… so incredibly wrong…
[Insert: second meltdown followed by realizations referenced in Caution: This Gets Emotional.]
Alas, I was re-inspired to talk to a therapist.
So here we are, present day, and I have one thing to say: It’s working for me.
It’s like having a best friend who only cares about me, what I’m thinking about, how my job is going, what my relationships are like, etc! She soon learned everything about me and has helped me to make sense of my life from a non-biased perspective. She provides support, guidance, understanding, empathy and helps rewire my thought patterns to ones that are healthy and constructive. Plus, she isn’t allowed to judge the stupid mistakes that I’ve made up until this point…. hello, win-win.
The most healing aspect of all is having an avenue to vocalize what’s rolling around in my brain, to get it out in the open. This has immediately taken the power away from seemingly scary anxieties and has helped me to rationalize what started as a very irrational mindset.
As I’ve said before, our reality is entirely our perception of the world, which consists of truths that we have entirely made up about ourselves, about what we are capable of and what our tendencies are.
“I’m not the type of girl who has a fit body”
“I’m a straight A student”
“I’m terrible at cooking and always will be.”
“I’m a total boss at beer pong.”
“I’m an athlete.”
“I’m a failure.”
“Who we are” is just a combination of all of these positive and negative truths; therapy helps to change the latter. It helps to challenge what we think we “know” about ourselves and explore alternative ideas.
Being a person is hard and developing unshakeable self-esteem is even harder. It doesn’t always feel like forward movement; sometimes we need to dig up painful emotions and, with help, work through them to get to a point of clarity. The only way forward is through that dark tunnel of fear and insecurity.
It’s not important that everyone be as open about their own therapeutic journeys as I’m choosing to be. As far as I’m concerned you can shout from the roof top that you’re in therapy and don’t care who knows it, or you can keep it to yourself and heal privately.
Both paths will get you to the same place.
What IS important is changing the stigma.
If your daughter wants to see a counselor, encourage her to. Instead of worrying that this will portray you in a negative way, worry about giving her all of the support that she needs. If your significant other expresses that they think they should talk to a therapist, focus on the strength it took for them to come to that realization. It does not reflect poorly on you or on your relationship that your s/o is seeking outside help to deal with an internal struggle.
Be okay with it. Be okay with it for yourself and be okay with it for those you love.
That’s all for now, babes.
With love and some great therapist recommendations,
- Paige J.
The Rose Gold Queen