I did it. I finally told someone other than my parents, boyfriend, and two best friends that I see a therapist. And it was actually sort of cathartic. Better yet, life went on as it normally does after I made the admission.
Why was I so nervous to state this fact to someone outside of my circle of trust? It’s the (absurd) fact that today, in 2017, there is still SO MUCH stigma surrounding mental health. I wasn’t ready to subject myself to any judgment I would likely have to contend with for seeing a therapist to address my anxiety issues. It was hard enough for me to realize that it was time for me to talk to someone about the stream of worries cycling through my mind 24/7, but to tell a friend or a coworker that I was going through this? It seemed impossible.
It wasn’t until I was casually asked about my occasional afternoon appointments that I blurted out the truth to someone I previously hadn’t been willing to tell. The asker meant no harm; they were simply wondering what kind of appointment I had scheduled. Rather than come up with a hasty fib, the words tumbled out of my mouth before I could even think twice about it. Yes, it was a smidge awkward at first, considering the individual with whom I was speaking felt badly about asking, but recovery was swift and seamless as we transitioned into another subject.
It was interesting to note, though: On the surface, I probably looked cool, calm, and collected (sans the beads of sweat forming on my forehead—thank goodness my bangs covered that). But internally, I was analyzing every moment of this interaction in a frenzied state. What was the other person thinking? Should I have come up with a different story? Could they tell that I was freaking out? Would this change their perception of me? What—
And then I cut myself off from the list of questions for two reasons: 1) I had no way of getting the answers to them, and 2) I couldn’t come up with a valid reason as to why I should be ashamed of my little confession. If anything, I should be PROUD of myself for being strong enough in the first place to recognize that I needed to voice my anxieties to someone. Not everyone is able to do that, nor is everyone able to seek the help they need as easily as I can.
So from that moment on, I decided I should do my part and use my voice to share with others that it’s okay to talk to someone if you need it. It’s more than okay. It’s empowering, it’s helpful, and it’s a vital component of self-care. Nobody will look at you differently because you’ve chosen to do the right thing for yourself. And if someone does judge you for it, then this person might not empathize or understand your situation. At this point, you can take it in your own hands and help shed some light on the stigma. No matter what you choose to do, feel good about your decision to take care of yourself and see where it takes you.
Side note: Nothing has changed since I told someone outside my little circle, and now I’m writing a blog post about it that will be accessible to many. It’s not easy for me to be this brave, but I hope that this helps others who may have felt, or do feel, the same way as me.