I saw a post on social media that resonated with me not long ago.
It was a comment from someone who was seeing a therapist for their depression and anxiety issues. This person shared that their therapist encouraged them to have a “gentle Christmas and New Year.” I love the idea of being kinder to ourselves during this holiday season when times are not always happy.
“Have a gentle holiday” is a mantra that we all need to consider adopting this time of year.
But I also loved that this person openly shared that they had asked for professional help and was not afraid to share that information.
Yes. Very much YES!
Not only do we need to normalize seeking help from a licensed professional, but we also need everyone around us to know that it is OK to ask for help. Asking for help when the world feels too complicated, or getting ready for a new day seems almost too daunting to consider, is not a sign of weakness.
Let me say this again–seeking professional help for mental health issues is not a sign of weakness.
Now, let’s dive into this deeper.
What is therapy, and how do I know when I need it? (DC)
Therapy is a kind of treatment that is well-documented and proven to work. But it’s also not a secret that there is a stigma attached to admitting that you are in therapy. In our culture, if any part of our body (other than our mind) is hurting, we don’t think twice about seeing a doctor.
Social media is filled with people sharing their broken toes, sore throats, and skin rashes, and no one bats an eye.
But for some reason, seeking mental health help is not like that. We feel labeled, judged, and even shunned as “a crazy person” because we need therapists to help us work through some heavy things in our life.
Let me tell you, that B.S. needs to end ASAP.
Because of this apprehension, people in our country do not seek help at anywhere near the rate that they should. Instead, they suffer in silence and that does not need to happen.
Most therapy is referred to as talk therapy. Talk therapy involves talking to a professional trained who will help you identify why you don’t feel like yourself anymore and what steps you can take to feel better. Therapists are also well trained in detecting patterns in families and behaviors so that they can help you identify unhealthy and toxic habits that you may have never realized or noticed.
A therapist is a partner on your mental health journey. They will help you see that not only are you not alone, but you are not broken, nuts, or defective. You are just a normal human being trying to get through some abnormally tough times. It is incredible how that simple realization will bolster your psyche and give you new hope.
Now that you know what therapy is- how do you know when you need to go?
We all suffer losses because loss is a part of life. This loss comes in the form of the passing of a loved one, the loss of income or a friendship, or even the loss of a belief or tradition. Any of these things can be traumatic to our lives, and we will all experience one of these losses at some point or another.
The key is to not allow yourself to get stuck in the downward spiral of sadness and hopelessness. Sometimes when we experience a loss, we do not fully understand we will stay stuck in that place until we work through this pain. Not unlike a vehicle that is stuck in the mud will just spin their tires endlessly until help arrives.
An example of this “spinning” could be when you find yourself betrayed by love or a friend. These mental wounds are so deep, they begin to reprogram your beliefs and habits until you find yourself unable to have a healthy attachment again. Until you process this, you don’t understand that what happened was not your fault or how it was your fault. You will be destined to push others away or develop continuing unhealthy attachments until you figure out why you are making choices that may not be in your best interest. Or continue to push people away because you are afraid to attach again.
If you or people you know, especially your children, have any of these signs. Please consult a licensed mental health therapist:
- Mood swings
- Increased irritability
- Crying all the time or never crying at all
- Sleeping all the time or not sleeping at all
- Noticeable weight change (with no intervention like regular healthy exercise)
- Shutting down and not talking at all
- Exploding when people try to speak with you
- Any form of self-harm
There may be other concerning signs, but these are just the most common ones. You know when someone you love is not “themselves,” and please don’t wait until you see “proof” that they are struggling. If you or a loved one are struggling with an adjustment, a change, or a loss, you may want to consult a therapist before seeing these signs.
Once in therapy, there is tremendous comfort in being reassured that what you are going through is a normal part of life. Therapists will then help you develop goals and strategies to help you live the life you want.
There is absolutely no shame in seeking the opinion or the help of a therapist, just know that therapists are not one-size-fits-all. If you feel like you are not clicking with your therapist or the work you are doing together is not helping, it could be that you have not found the right one. We are all different, and just like people, we have different approaches, temperaments, and personalities, but there is a fit for you out there.
My final encouragement to you today is that I hope you will seek the help you need, when you need it, and do so without feeling ashamed or scared.
As someone who is a licensed and professional therapist, I can promise you that therapy can change your life for the better.