Unfortunately, therapy still remains a shrouded subject even though science proves how helpful it is for those suffering from mental illnesses. Yesterday, I spoke to you about the signs that pushed me to seek professional help for my depression and anxiety, and today I'm going to bust some myths and misconceptions that you may have about therapy.
Before I started therapy, I thought some of these things to be true as well, but it is important to remember that learning and unlearning are an important part of life. So when I started seeing a mental health professional and reading more about the subject, I understood that just like going to a doctor for your physical wellbeing is important, looking after your mental health is equally essential.
I don't know about others, but my reason for writing about mental illness is that it can be a very isolating experience. All I hope for by sharing my two cents is that we're a step closer to removing the stigma around mental health care.
Some people believe that one must be diagnosed with a 'serious' psychological disorder or be really struggling to get by to seek therapy. That is a myth. The more you wait, the worse the problem could become. Untangling and resolving issues at a nascent stage could help in understanding your problems sooner. People go to therapy for various reasons--to deal with grief, stress, relationships or even to just learn how to be the best version of themselves and life a more wholesome life.
This is something I faced myself, because I put off going for therapy by thinking I can talk about it to my friends. However, something I've learned after more than a year of seeing a mental health practitioner is that friends have their own place and so does a professional. She is cut off from the situation and can see the larger picture without being personally involved. Also, a professional has studied and put in years of research to help you. They will certainly know the best how to help you and have a more holistic approach to self-care.
While there may be a few similar elements in the first few sessions, each form of therapy is different from the other. Therapy varies from session to session, and from one professional to another. Even with two psychotherapists who have been trained at the same institution and using the same approach, there may be many differences like the area of expertise, personality, methods, personal experience etc. Over the course of therapy, you may evolve and get better, which might prompt your therapist to change their approach as well.
The stigma around mental health forces you to think this way, but in reality, this statement is completely false. The perception that you're "mad" or "crazy" if you go to therapy is one of the most common and unfortunate stereotypes. I'm not crazy for seeking help, I'm brave--because I'm ready to face problemshead-on and talk about them. Some people seeking therapy are people who can't hold on to a job, lack independence or think clearly but many others don't fit that bill. Either way, that doesn't make them crazy. Even if you're fully functioning doesn't mean there's no scope of improvement, is there?
There are many types of mental health professionals and if you're thinking about being prescribed medication, then you should visit a psychiatrist. Talk therapy is provided by psychologists, counsellors or social workers. Whether medication is required for your issue or not is something only a doctor or therapist can tell you after giving you a diagnosis. If medication scares you, you could discuss alternatives with your mental health professional.
The main thing my therapist helped me with is awareness. I understood what was happening and why I was reacting to a situation in the way I was and that itself gave me power. There are also other facets of therapy--like planning your goals and making improvement plans for your life.
There is actually a wide price range when it comes to therapy, and there are many therapists who do pro-bono work--it's just a matter of what suits you financially. Another thing to reevaluate when you're considering going to therapy is the amount you spend on dinners, vacations, clothes, and cars. Material things may give you momentary happiness, but think of how many obstacles you'll be able to cross once you've conquered your mental illness.
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