Last week, I was booking a facial for my friend and me. I was looking through their numerous skincare treatments and I noticed that they mark each treatment as either corrective, maintenance and/or preventative. So, I started thinking… if we can get treatments for skincare, physical therapy, and go through eye exams, annual physical exam, etc. as part of our overall health and wellness, why is it so hard for our society to accept psychotherapy as a mental health support the same way without any stigmas attached?
In my case, I started seeing a therapist about 25 years ago, when I was first diagnosed with depression, and it was only because my doctor during college recommended I seek therapy. I had “panic attacks” then, a phrase I didn’t know at the time, but because I had physical symptoms, they took me to the clinic at my University. When everything came out “normal” after doing all the tests, seeing a therapist was the next thing to do. I didn’t know what it meant then. I didn’t even know what depression was like, so I just went along with it. I didn’t tell anyone, not because I was ashamed, but merely because I didn’t know anything about it and I didn’t think anyone would care (which I later found out was another symptom of depression.)
For the next 10-15 years, I continued my therapy because I felt I needed it and truth be told, I thought I was severely messed up. Yet, over the last 10 years, it became a decision I chose to make because I grew and learned that talking to a professional didn’t just mean I was broken. It meant getting help from someone who could guide and teach me tools, so I could thrive in life and not just survive. That is what therapy means to me.
When I met my husband 10 years ago, I was relieved to know that he too, had sought help and had therapy. I respected him more for being so open and honest. His willingness to work on his own self-growth and self-development was enough for me to know that he was a keeper…and we got married 18 months later. ;) Okay, I went off tangent.
Fast forward to last year. As my husband and I continued to work on ourselves individually (that means therapy for each of us weekly), we then decided to work together on our marriage by seeking couples therapy also. We all know that marriage is hard and starting a family can be harder. We each have our own set of challenges in life, and we wanted some guidance on how to move forward. We are currently in the middle of our adoption journey (in case you didn’t know yet) waiting to be matched, which also brings another level of hardship. And we want to make sure that we are bettering ourselves as we prepare for what’s to come.
As we’ve shared things with our therapist, she always says, “let’s normalize this,” not to minimize the hardships and conflicts we’re going through, but to let us know that we are not the only ones experiencing them. I thought it was a nice way of validating our experience and comforting us at the same time.
So, I want to do just that. I want to talk about my own experience with therapy, as an individual and as a married woman. I want to be part of the conversation that normalizes this. And I want you to know that help is available in case you too are going through difficulties. I know what it’s like to live through a traumatic experience, which I continue to work on. I know what it feels like to go through anxiety and depression and not understand anything about it, without any help and support.
Here’s the thing, if you already are seeking therapy, you may not talk about it because you think no one else is feeling the same way you do and are feeling some shame about it. Or if you are thinking about talking to a professional, you may not actually move forward with it because of the same shame. Most people think there is “nothing wrong with them”, so why should they talk to someone, and besides it’s only for “broken people”- which is the very definition of stigma.
Let’s normalize therapy. What if it’s just something we do as preventative care, before we have that major breakdown? Or as corrective care, because we realize we want to make ourselves feel better with some help? Or for maintenance, because life happens and we need consistent guidance? Because we deserve to live a joyful and healthy life, and even when things fall apart, we don’t have to do it alone.
Let’s normalize the hardships you’re going through. I don’t want to minimize whatever it is you’re experiencing, but I want you to know that you’re not the only one. So many people around you may be going through it too. And the more we talk about it, the less we will feel alone.
Help is available. We can do hard things, especially with the help of others. And I want you to remember that no matter what happens, you are definitely not alone.
ps. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help and support you. You can comment below or feel free to email me at connect(at)linkofhearts.com
Thank you so much for this heartwarming message, April! Your continued support, your faith in our mission and everything we do are what help me keep moving forward. I appreciate your sharing. Sending you and your family my love and prayers. xo
This a long overdue review/comment about LOH. First of all thank you for taking time to share your thoughts about self care and inspire a lot of people through your products. Me and my 3 girls are one of those who benefited from your stories, sharing and most specially your items. As a mom, I buy LOH items because it is a tool for me to communicate to my kids the importance of self care and self love and most especially to let them know how much I love them.
Thank you so much and God bless! I wish you more a success.