Talking to a stranger for 50 minutes about the most intimate details of your life is no picnic. Sharing your pain, your struggle, your thoughts, and feelings? Spilling the tea about your personal issues? How embarrassing. How exhausting. How time-consuming. Why would anyone put themselves through that? Why go to therapy when you can just talk to a friend or family member for free? And what is a therapist going to do for you anyway? How can “complaining” about your problems help at all?
If you’ve ever thought about seeing a therapist, or if it’s ever been suggested to you, you might have had some of these same thoughts. People often feel like going to therapy is some sign of weakness, or must mean something is “really wrong” with them. And even if you believe in therapy, you know, for others, the idea of going yourself might bring up all sorts of angst. The fact of the matter is, it’s very normal to feel self-conscious about the idea of seeing a therapist. So why do it?
Here are seven reasons why seeking support for your mental health is one of the best decisions you can make.
1) It’s normal. Life is challenging under the best of circumstances, and most people at some point experience “the worst of circumstances.” We go through things as humans. Divorce, loss of a loved one, loss of a job, loss of a friendship, trauma, family issues, school struggles, relationship problems. Every person at some point will face a life challenge, something painful. There’s no avoiding it. Therapy can be a vital part of what gets you through those darker days. Talking to a therapist when times are tough is about working through your feelings and giving yourself a safe place to do that. Therapists are equipped to help you manage your emotions, normalize your experiences, remind you that you’re not alone, and give you tools and strategies to get through the current crisis.
2) Mom doesn’t always know best and your BFF may not either. Friends and family are awesome, but they’re not trained professionals. One of the benefits of seeing a therapist is precisely because they are not a friend or family member. A therapist can be there for you in ways your friends and family simply cannot. They have the professional knowledge, experience, and skill set to provide the most appropriate support. And, they’re objective; they aren’t going to pass judgment or just tell you what they think you want to hear. A good therapist will work to create a safe “space,” and will guide you through things with compassion, empathy, understanding, and professional expertise.
3) Mental health issues are real, valid, and nothing to be ashamed of. Whether it’s depression, anxiety, an eating disorder, childhood trauma, or some other issue that brings you into counseling, taking that step is the best way to start the healing process. A therapist can help you “make sense” of the issue you’re struggling with, and help you understand the reasons why you’re feeling the way that you are.
4) It’s good for your physical health! Our bodies are closely tied to our emotional experiences and respond in all sorts of ways when we’re struggling. Have you ever gotten a tension headache or felt sick to your stomach when stressed? Maybe you’ve had trouble sleeping? Or do you find that you just can’t concentrate or get anything done? You’re exhausted. Emotional upheaval has that effect. There’s no doubt that your mental health can wreak havoc on you physically, both in the short term as well as over time. Seeing a therapist talk about what’s going on helps you feel better emotionally, and when you feel better emotionally, your physical health improves as well. If you’re willing to go to a medical doctor when you’re feeling sick, why not treat your emotional well-being with as much care and respect?
5) We don’t learn this stuff in school! Seriously, it may seem like our mental health should just come naturally to us. Isn’t it about basic feelings? Why can’t we figure it out on our own? But the truth is, emotions are actually quite complicated. And mental health is about so much more than if we’re happy, sad, or mad. Mental health and your overall emotional well-being consist of your personal experiences, your history, your family background, and your thoughts as much as your feelings. It may seem like common sense, but it’s anything but. Getting professional support when things feel overwhelming is the best way to help you sort things out, and get to the other side of whatever the issue is.
6) Things have a tendency to get worse. Imagine if you had a toothache. At first, you might tell yourself, “Oh, it’s not that bad. It’ll be fine. It’ll go away.” But it doesn’t. With each passing day, the pain gets worse. And by the time you go to the dentist, what started as something small has become a dental emergency. Mental health is very much like that. Often when we’re struggling, we initially think, “It’s not that bad. I’ll be fine. It’ll get better.” But when we ignore an issue, and we deny ourselves the help we need, it often just exacerbates the problem. If you’re struggling with something, it’s ok to ask for help. It’s as “ok” to seek support for your mental health as it is to get your tooth looked at. And your mental health is equally important. Don’t wait for things to get so bad that it becomes a mental health crisis or an emergency.
7) You deserve it! You are worthy of support. You don’t have to “suffer in silence” or go through something alone. Getting support when you’re going through a difficult time promotes emotional well-being, and emotional well-being leads to a better quality of life. Working with a good therapist can help you manage emotions more effectively, improve your relationships, and feel better overall. By seeing a therapist when life inevitably gets you down or knocks you off your feet (as it does all of us), you’re taking care of yourself, and you deserve that!
While it may not be easy, and it is an investment of time, money, and energy, seeing a therapist or mental health counselor reflects courage, wisdom, and self-respect. It’s helpful not only when things have gone really wrong in life, but also as a way of keeping things on track. In seeking support for your mental health, you’re acknowledging that your emotional well-being matters, and you will reap the rewards. Call us at (805) 842-1994 for more information.