We live in a world and generation where we are constantly placed under a microscope. We are constantly being told who we “are”, what we “should” be like, and where we “should” be in our lives. Growing up in the digital age has also given us this so-called “courage” to put everything we do onto the internet for everyone to look even closer at under the microscope. But, in doing this we have made everyone on social media wear rose-colored glasses to look at life and what it “should” look like. We post our best photos, our best experiences, our highs and occasionally we will post a really great photo with a caption that talks about a low, or a struggle and how we overcame it. That is considered NORMAL. Unfortunately, in this day and age seeking help is NOT NORMAL, because there is a major stigma on mental health and seeking mental health support. Which is creating even bigger problems for us, not only as a nation but as a human population. This is why it is so important for us as a community to destigmatize mental health support. So, for starters, many of my closest family and friends had no idea, but I saw a therapist most of last year.
Subconconnciously most of your first thoughts were somewhere along the lines of “I wonder what happened to her”, “what’s WRONG”, “why didn’t she just talk to friends or family”, “why didn’t she just say something”. And this is something we have been conditioned to do, so I don’t blame you, I only wish to change your mind. We have been taught that something “bad” has to happen to you, or that you are in a “bad place” in order for you to seek the help of a therapist. Or you are told that you are “crazy”, “unstable”, or are “too weak” to handle what is going on in your life. But guess what, I am a very happy 27-year-old woman. I am married to the love of my life, building the business of my dreams, and have an AMAZING support system in my family and friends. But I went to therapy every Friday, and experienced the most incredible growth, and created such a positive relationship with my self, which in return rekindled the BEST relationships with the people around me. I made the choice to go to therapy when I realized that I was not being the best version of myself that I could be. And it wasn’t because I wasn’t making the effort – trust me I read all the self-help books on the shelf, I ate everything green and full of protein, I worked out when I didn’t have the energy to, I tried yoga and mediation…I tried everything – but until you figure out how YOUR OWN brain works and get everything straight THERE you will NEVER truly experience growth. You will constantly be searching for the next mantra to get you by and make you feel good until that little wave is over and you’re right back to crying on your floor because you don’t feel “okay” again. And that’s okay. IT IS OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY. And it is okay to seek professional help, to help you figure it out.
Therapy for me was a safe, inclusive, and my own sacred place to go and learn about ME. My entire adult life I have been told that I am an over-thinker and I am overly emotional. So, my entire adult life I have been trying to stop overthinking every situation at hand, and trying to get tougher with my emotions. I even apologized to my therapist at our first session, telling her “I’m sorry I overthink everything”. She taught me that day that I AM an over-thinker and I DO most things based on my emotions, but those are NOT negative things or anything to apologize for. She taught me that I simply had to learn how to navigate my own thoughts, and learn how to process them in a way that works better for me. The past 9 years of my life have been so transformative, but such an emotional rollercoaster. And think about it, in our late teens and early twenties we are dealing with some of the best and worst days of our lives. We are stepping into adulthood, trying to figure out who WE are and where we belong in this world, and we are constantly experiencing emotional highs and lows – because LIFE IS HAPPENING. So, why is it such a terrible thing to ask for help and for the tools that will help us thrive?
As I mentioned before, I decided to seek outside help, from myself, my friends, and my family. Not because I didn’t have a support system or solid relationships with the people in my life (another negative stigma about mental health). Actually, I talk more about my day-to-day problems with my mom and my best friends, than I ever did with my therapist. And one of my best friends actually suggested therapy during one of our conversations, because it had done wonders for her. My therapist was an outside source who threw bias out the window and had the professional tools to assess, teach, and guide me through my own heart and mind. Honestly, she was like my life coach. She taught me how to set daily intentions, how to transform my own mindset in a positive way, and how to navigate my relationships with others in a healthy way. Trust me when I say that your relationship with yourself influences every other relationship you have.
I know this all sounds so positive because it is, but let me also tell you that going to therapy is one of the hardest things that I have ever had to do. Because unlike what the stigma says (that you are “weak” when you go to therapy) it took an extremely strong part of me to take that first step and continue through the process. You have to be courageous and brave to explore your own emotions, to let your guard down, to test your boundaries, to look into parts of your heart and mind, and go through memories that you never wanted to remember. I was in an unhealthy and downright toxic relationship in my early twenties. I have learned now that I had been in denial about how emotionally, mentally, and physically abusive it was. I was also in denial that it was still affecting me and my relationships today. I learned that there were certain subconscious “triggers” that affected the way that I reacted to situations in my day to day life. I also never realized how far my walls were truly up with both men and women in life. By building these walls, I was making it impossible for people to love me for exactly who I am. Luckily, my then-fiancé and now husband was so supportive of this and so patient with me. I learned how to break those walls down and let him love the way that I have always wanted to be loved.
In order to really become the best possible version of myself, I had to be so committed to loving myself that I was willing to sit through some of the most uncomfortable pain of growth and change. Believe me when I say that I had sessions where I bawled my eyes out the entire time, choked on my own words, and then left with a weight lifted. I have had sessions where I have relived what I now know was trauma and walked out with forgiveness and strength in my heart instead of pain and suffering. And believe me when I say that my hands were shaking during my first session because I was so nervous and almost ashamed to be there. And why? Because there is such a negative stigma on mental health help that I was afraid of what people would think if they knew that I was in therapy.
So, here I am sharing just the surface of my story, to show you that whatever you are going through is normal. That you are not alone. I am not telling you that you need to go to therapy to help your own personal growth, but I AM telling you that if you are thinking about it IT IS OKAY and IT IS NORMAL. Give yourself the same attention that you give others when they are in pain or in a transformative part of their life and watch yourself thrive. Invest in the things that will challenge you to be better, not the things that will camouflage your mental state, or make you look “perfectly fine” on social media. Step outside of your comfort zone, it is THERE that you will find growth. It is THERE that you will make the leap into your own happiness. Start loving yourself just a little bit and see how much of a difference it makes, not only to you but to everyone around you. And in that process, not everyone is going to be as supportive as you hoped. Not so much about you actually going to therapy or making positive changes in your life, but with the personal changes that may happen in the process. You might find yourself creating healthier habits and ditching the old ones. Which might result in you also ditching the “friends” who came with those not-so-healthy habits. And as much as that will hurt, it will also open your eyes to the kinds of people you want to surround yourself with. You will learn who is there for YOU, not just for the things that you go out and do. And you will build your circle, an even better one than you had before. Regardless of what your journey looks like it is time to fight the stigma and fight for YOU.
If you like this article, check out: https://www.harnessmagazine.com/will-the-fearless-women-please-stand-up/