by Lorie Lewis Ham
There are a lot of people who think that seeing a therapist is a waste of time. There are also a lot of people who think it’s wrong, or that you’re weak, if you take antidepressants. Well I’m here to say that is a big load of crap!
Personally, I think most people could benefit from seeing a therapist. We all have baggage in our lives, and hang ups, and a lot of us never do anything about them. Some people instead let their entire lives be ruled by them! How is that right or healthy? Not only can people benefit greatly from seeing a therapist, many people also benefit greatly from taking medication for their depression or other forms of mental illness. In many cases, they actually get their lives back by taking those steps.
I also know that because of that stigma, a lot of people never get the help they need, and still others feel they have to keep it a secret. I am here to publicly state that I have been seeing a therapist for nearly two years and it is one of the smartest, and healthiest decisions I have ever made.
I started suffering from depression in my teens–something that from my experience seems to be very common. Many teens get past it, many don’t, and instead struggle with it the rest of their lives. During my teen years I struggled with a lot of stuff–some very typical such as low self-esteem, others not so typical. Though I have never been a very private person, I won’t go into any details here because that’s not the point of this article and there are other people involved. However, if you are curious, buy me a cup of coffee and I will answer pretty much anything you ask me–leaving out names of others involved of course.
I would like to think I’ve always been very self aware, which is probably how I’ve managed to get by, despite my baggage and hang ups, for most of my life. However, getting by isn’t really the best way to live your life and I truly wish I’d sought out a therapist much earlier.
You may wonder what finally brought me to the point of making that step. Well there were a couple of things. A few years ago, I suffered a severe loss–I lost someone who was very dear to me. Again, no details for their sake not mine, but I didn’t lose them to death, I just lost them from my life. This sent me into one of the biggest downward spirals of my life–the depression at times was almost unbearable. The pain of that loss was almost too much to bear. And while friends and family helped –there was only so much they could do at that point.
I knew I had to do something. Around that same time, God led me to the knowledge of a wonderful program where I could see a therapist for very little. Money had been another boundary for me in the past–and sadly is for many people. Now you may not believe in God, but I swear to you he opened every door that led me to this place and they saved my sanity. And I’m not exaggerating.
Now a side note for those who believe in God as I do–many Christians think that if you go to a therapist, or take antidepressants you aren’t trusting God–well sorry for the language here again, but again I say that’s a load of crap! God gave people the ability to be therapists and to create medicines. This is an illness. Would you tell someone they didn’t trust God enough if they were diagnosed with cancer and had chemotherapy?
Back to my story. This leads me to another obstacle that many have–family. Sometimes when a person goes to a therapist, their family feels that it is an indictment against them–that it is telling the world they did something wrong or failed you in some way. This may be true, and it also may not be. Honestly, they need to get over it and be more concerned about you getting the help you need. But even if you don’t have a supportive family, don’t let that stop you from getting the help you need to become healthy. Poor mental and emotional health directly affects your physical health as well. It’s just as important.
So here I am sharing with you, our readers, my mental health journey, which is still very much in process and probably always will be. From time to time, I will probably write more about this journey. My hope in writing this is that if you are on a similar journey it will provide encouragement, or if you have been afraid to get the help you need this will help you be brave enough to take that step.
There’s also another purpose. If you are reading this and you have someone in your life who needs help I hope this insight into someone else’s journey will get you to encourage them to get the help they need. AND if you know someone who is getting that help that you will encourage and support them. Sure, we don’t have to have our friends and family supporting us on our journey, but it sure helps. Also, I hope to do my small part in getting rid of the stigma attached to mental illness.
So again–if you need help–be bold, get it. Don’t let anyone, or anything, stop you. There are a lot of programs out there if money is an issue like it is for me. Take charge of your mental health! Ask your doctor for a referral, search the internet for local low cost programs, there are answers at your fingertips. We only have one life–let’s do all we can to make it the best it can be.
Because I feel mental health is as important as physical, and yet often neglected, is why KRL has a mental health section. So hop on over and take a look at some great articles! The International Bipolar Foundation has a column here every other month, and others have also shared their insight and their journey’s.