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The image that pops in your head when someone says “therapy” is one cultivated from the stereotypes in movies or social media. There is a stigma that those who attend therapy have severe mental illnesses and when they attend therapy they are getting “fixed.” As someone who was not a believer in therapy till I myself attended it, I am here to tell you therapy is not what the media has made it out to be. Therapy is more like talking to a friend about what’s been weighing heavy on your mind without them having judgment or bias.

I am not going to lie; I fell victim to the stereotypes associated with therapy. I thought my mental health struggles were not severe enough to attend it. The truth is there are no guidelines to mental health struggles. Everyone experiences mental health differently. For some, it is as small as getting nervous for a presentation and for others it can be as serious as not wanting to live anymore. Mental health comes in all shapes and sizes and realizing that your mental health struggles are worth attention is a step in the right direction to breaking the stigma.

I can agree that therapy is intimidating. It can be scary opening up to someone that you don’t know. I remember the first time I went to therapy for my anxiety. Talking to someone about my anxiety, gave me anxiety. I was expecting it to be like how it was in the shows I watched. I expected it to be a therapist sitting there and me laying down on a couch rambling. Sure, you can lay down on the couch if you want, but therapy is not just that. Therapy might not even be one-on-one. You can attend therapy in groups, over the phone or with a friend. There is less pressure on yourself than you might think.

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I was terrified to explain what I had been feeling to a complete stranger, but I was so surprised by how amazing it felt to talk to someone that knew nothing about my past and can listen without any judgment or bias. That is where there is a misconception. People are led to think that therapists are supposed to fix people, but I believe they are there to listen and offer advice when needed. A lot of the time, therapists are just there to navigate you through what you are feeling. Not to mention, you can let out a cry and they will be there to hand you a tissue.

The stigma against therapy can be harmful. It could make people think that their issues aren’t worthy enough of being listened to. Therapy is for anyone that is struggling with mental health. Stereotypes are meant to be broken. Mental health is among those stereotypes and it is important to shed light on the idea that mental health is forever changing. There are no set rules to mental health.

Discover what helps your mental health. Therapy isn’t for everyone. Maybe your therapy is reading a book or going outside. Therapy doesn’t have to be so literal; make your own meaning out of it. When you choose to put yourself first, regardless of what people say, that is when the stigma is broken.

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Hannah is a Writer for Her Campus and a Staff Writer for HCFSU. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, or rewatching her comfort shows (Friends, The Vampire Diaries, or Gossip Girl) for 20th time!
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