Today I cracked a joke on my Facebook page that I was going to visit all the self-help and inspirational pages and posts and comment: ‘No duh!’ on each of them. I was scrolling and I saw something that seemed incredibly obvious to me and that’s what got me started. But in truth, today was my monthly visit to the shrink and I was thinking about what I wanted to talk about during the session.
I only started seeking mental health help after my daughter was born and I suffered post natal depression and developed bipolar disorder. If it wasn’t for my husband urging me to go, I would never have recovered. I was in complete denial of what was happening to me and my behaviour was atrocious. It saved my life. It made me realize I was in a deep, dark hole, and when I was done talking at that very first session, and realized that I could just manage to claw my way out of it, I burst into tears. The relief was immense. Half the burden was taken off my shoulders from just admitting that I had a problem and that there was a way to better understand it, and myself, from that day forward. I only wish I had done it sooner.
My parents raised us on the principles that we were all absolutely perfect and every behavior is ‘just who you are’ and everything is forgivable. And that was fine when I was growing up, but something went wrong once I had had my first child. My brain chemistry didn’t quite click back into place while changing back to being ‘only me,’ and I just couldn’t be perfect, nor be ‘me’ anymore.
Everyone has different reactions to the stimuli in the environment around them. Everyone has different coping mechanisms and levels of tolerance. Sometimes the causes are from trauma, and sometimes, like me, a chemical imbalance in the brain can send you tumbling down that rabbit hole. My allusion to Alice is no joke; I was mad! And my madness was powerful. To be fair, I was more like the Queen of Hearts than I was innocent, sweet Alice…
Psychotherapy is a long, laborious process. It’s not a quick fix. Most of the time, it doesn’t actually fix you, in so much as it allows you to COPE. And to get to know yourself so much better. You have to put aside all your ideas about being perfectly well-balanced (no one is), and allow your real self to come forward and speak out loud what your Id has known for ages. It’s heavy. It’s tiring. It’s hard. But without it, you may never deal with the issues that have been nagging at you for years; issues that you’ve been sweeping under the brain cupboard for all this time.
Since that very first session to today’s one, I’ve learned so much about myself. I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to indulge in it, and I feel horrified that most people and most cultures don’t deem it important or necessary. You don’t have to have gone through trauma to go; you should just go anyway, if not just to clear your mind.
I’m not even going to mention how important it is to go to Couples’ Therapy! I’ve seen so many of my friends’ relationships end because they just didn’t deem it important enough to lay their relationship bare in front of a professional ‘stranger.’ I’ve also seen my married friends prosper because of it. Or separate on good terms because they’ve taken the time to iron out their differences.
I’ve sent my kids to therapy. Oh yes! And they’ve come back well-rounded and hardly suffer from anxiety because they know they will always have someone outside of their family dynamic to discuss their thoughts with. You can only get better with therapy. There is absolutely no negative aspect to it whatsoever.
Stigma? That’s for egotistical, unintelligent Neanderthals. Don’t even go there.
Some advice: pick a good psychologist. If you don’t gel with the first one, go see another one; you’ll find the right one that’ll move you forward. Also, don’t go see one that your family members or friends see; It’s about you and you alone and how you see your world. Please do yourself a huge favour and don’t waste your time lying or embellishing or omitting information. If you’ve decided to heal, then you must throw all of you into the fire.
Most importantly, be kind to yourself and forgive yourself and know that you’ve chosen to seek help because you want to understand you better and be a better person for it.
I mean: No duh!