Therapy is normal. Feeling alone, sad, scared or anxious every day is not. Today I’m sharing a very personal post featuring my experiences in therapy.
Why is there a negative stigma surrounding mental health issues? Even though society is working hard to normalize mental health discussions, there is still a widespread hesitation about therapy. Many people (actually some of YOU) say you’re worried of what others will think of you. Some are afraid of opening up to a therapist… so you just don’t do it.
I get it. Admitting you don’t feel right is hard. I hid my own struggles with anxiety, depression, and PPD for quite some time. It was always easier to blame my emotions on a bad day or PMS than the latter. But sometimes you just can’t process the big stuff on your own. Today I’m sharing a very personal post featuring my experiences in therapy.
When I caught Covid-19 last spring I lost absolute control over my mental health. It’s funny to think just weeks before I became sick, I was living my best life going to weekly hot yoga and dance classes. My mind was clear, my anxiety minimal, and I felt amazing. I entered the ‘pandemic’ with a very positive attitude compared to others.
Fast forward two weeks into my own personal Covid-19 quarantine and the positivity disappeared. I began spiraling quickly as I became sicker and sicker. There was a constant fear that if my death was not imminent, then someone close to me was going to die instead from the virus.
I felt scared and alone. I cried every single day, allowing fear to consume me. Despite the efforts from my loved ones as they tried to save me from drowning, I kept finding myself trapped underwater. I knew NONE OF THIS IS NORMAL, but I kept waiting to wake up and magically feel better.
Then one day my primary care doctor advised me to seek help from a mental health professional. She said I was experiencing a form of PTSD from Covid and it was effecting my quality of life. I was shocked for a few minutes, but after a good long cry I came to the realization that she was right.
My Recent Experiences in Therapy
I’m often asked how I found my therapist and it was quite easy. It only took three phone calls in which I tearfully described my feelings of overwhelming depression/anxiety/fears to three different strangers. The third phone call was to someone we shall call SJP. She was understanding and compassionate, offering an immediate appointment before she even had approval from my insurance company.
Every week I meet SJP for an hour in a virtual room. I bring a pen, a notebook, and my thoughts about life. Sometimes I start a therapy session with a topic in mind, while others evolve based on my ramblings. SJP doesn’t lead the conversation, but rather prompts in depth discussions with questions. She’s given me tasks to work on, affirmations to recite, and HOPE for a life where I can control my anxiety.
There are many layers to mental health issues – it’s one of the most profound realizations I have had since I began therapy. I imagine my mental health issues looking like a big onion, each layer representing the aftermath of a significant event in my life I’ve never processed. At the core is the personality I was born with – a fear of the unknown. As a toddler I dealt with my anxiety through tantrums, but the rest of my life I bottled it all up inside. There were moments when I couldn’t hide the unsettling emotions – and that’s when I would reach my breaking point and seek therapy.
How does one let go of the fear rooted in past experiences? You come to the realization that the past does not determine the future.
I am slowly creating a mental toolkit for working through my anxieties. Self-talk is at the core, as are weekly therapy sessions. Yoga, dance, journaling and this blog are also important parts of my mental health journey.
I find that the more discussions I read or hear about mental health, the better I feel about my own issues too.
It’s Time to Normalize Discussions about Mental Health
Ever since I began sharing my experiences in therapy on social media, I receive a lot of messages from YOU. The most common statement is something along the lines of: “Thank you for making therapy sound normal.” I always hope my transparency encourages anyone feeling uncomfortable or embarrassed about their own experiences.
I never thought therapy was something to be ashamed of, but we all know there is an obvious stigma attached to the word. If there wasn’t, then we’d all have a therapist on speed dial. In 2021 it’s about time we finally normalize discussions about mental health.
There is NO reason anyone should have to suffer alone or in silence. Don’t be afraid of therapy. Never be afraid to speak up about how you feel. Don’t ever choose to be alone with the thoughts that keep you up at night.
Kristen M says
This is everything. Thank you for sharing your story and struggles. Relatable to so many….
I totally agree that we need to normalize therapy. I go to one ever since I was diagnosed with cancer and even if there is nothing major to talk about, I still go. Mental health is so important!
I feel this so deeply. My Dad had COVID in December & while I’ve dealt with depression before, his illness unlocked anxiety like I’ve never dealt with & also caused my depression to come raging back. It is so nice to hear other people speak out about mental health – it’s so important to not feel alone. So thank you.
Anna English says
Caitlin I loved reading this post and learning more about you!
I’m so glad you’re feeling better and have found a therapist you jive with! It’s so important to go to therapy. I’ve actually written an entire blog post on why EVERYONE should go to therapy. If you want to check it out it’s: https://www.legalleeblonde.com/2019/03/real-talk-why-you-should-go-to-therapy.html
Lee | LegalLee Blonde
I am so sorry you experienced such fear and anxiety, it’s really a terrifying thing. I can relate to a lot of what you’ve posted here, particularly about struggling really, really hard in the last year. I’ll tell you what I tell everyone I know who sees a therapist – I am so proud of you! Thank you for caring about yourself and your loved ones to take care of yourself and your mental health. And thank you so much for this post, it’s so important that we not be afraid to ask for help when we need it, there’s absolutely no reason to be ashamed just as you said, just like we would never be ashamed to visit a doctor to care for our physical health. Caring for ourselves mentally is one of the most valuable and important things we can do for ourselves. <3
Neely Moldovan says
It is absolutely beyond time to normalize talking about therapy and mental health. I hate that theres still such a stigma!
Tanvi Rastogi says
I applaud you for taking action and accepting what was needed to be done and now talking about it and bringing awareness. Mental health is as important as other facets of our health. I am sorry that you had to go through so much pain and anxiety but I am glad that you seeked help and are now doing better.
I’m grateful that you’re working to normalize talking about mental health and being part of the group of people wanting to erase the stigma surrounding it. I’m definitely in that category as well. I’m very open about my experiences with mental illness and my struggles with different things – sometimes “too” open (if that’s a thing). However, I appreciate others who do the same. It’s time we all are able to talk about these things without any fear!
Sarah Lindner says
I’m sorry you experienced such a rough time, but as someone who has received the benefits of therapy for years, I can attest that it has been life changing and has helped me through some of my most difficult times. Happy you got are working through it. xoxo, Sarah
My husband is a therapist so it’s normal for us to go to individual therapy a few times a month and even have a couples session every now and then! It’s so nice talking to someone who is unbiased and there to help you feel your best.
Jamaria Johnson says
Such a great post! Therapy is amazing and should be celebrated just like going to the doctor. Our mental health is SO important, glad you’re taking care of you!
I love that you’re normalizing therapy! Thank you for such an authentic post!
Thank you for letting me know. In fact, I can tell our story. My wife has been battling depression for several years now and we’ve tried so many drugs and it didn’t have a very good experience until she tried torch diamond thc-o. Of course, this did not solve the problem, but at least it alleviated her condition and I am very glad that this happened.