I completely understand the hesitation around wanting to go to therapy. Before I went in for my first appointment, I was terrified at the thought of having to explain the worst parts of myself to a total stranger. It is true that not all therapists work for everyone, but when you find the one that does, there’s an incredibly large weight taken off your shoulders.
It’s scary to ask to help or to have to accept that you may need help on a deeper level. However, if you are getting to the point where every single conversation you have with your friends ends up revolving around your mental issues, this may be a sign that you need to seek professional help. While your friends will always be there for you, there are certain topics and issues that they won’t have the expertise that you need. Serious mental health issues are understandably daunting to deal with alone, but it isn’t fair to anyone within the relationship if you rely on them to tell you how to fix your problems.
Whenever you reach out for help, you always run the risk of being let down. By this, I mean that if you convince yourself that your friends will truly understand your problems and be there for you to help you, it can do major damage to your relationship if they don’t come through. No one is going to have all of the answers, but it would work more in your favor to talk to someone with more experience. A therapist has gone through years of education and training surrounding mental health, and they can help you work through whatever you may be struggling with.
Everyone is constantly dealing with their own issues, and there is nothing wrong with openly venting to your friends. However, it is important to understand the emotional weight you are transferring onto another person when you are doing this. A few months back, there was a viral tweet going around that made reference to asking someone if they “were in the correct headspace to hear something that might hurt you” before going to them with a serious issue. While this tweet received a lot of backlash based on how robotic and emotionless this question seemed to be, the sentiment behind it rings true. You should always make sure that the friend you are seeking help from would be able to without further damaging their own mental health. It is incredibly important that both parties understand what you need out of the conversation. If you are solely looking for someone to rant to in order to get a few things off your chest, then make that known. This way, whoever you are going to can go into the interaction knowing whether or not you are seeking advice.
If you are still unsure about going to a therapist about your issues, it is important to keep in mind a few benefits a therapist has over your friends. Firstly, a therapist will not judge you and due to confidentiality agreements, a therapist cannot talk to anyone else about your issues. No one wants their personal struggles to be broadcasted, and while I would hope people who claim to be your friends wouldn’t do this, talking to a therapist gets rid of this possibility completely. A therapist might also be able to help you understand that your problems are not minimal nor are you a bother for coming to them for advice. Another thing is that during your appointment, you are your therapist’s priority. All of their ideas and attention are on you and talking through what’s best for you. Even if you are able to get your friend alone to talk through your issues, there is the possibility that their mind could be other places.
At the end of the day, hopefully, your friends want what’s best for you. However, another risk you run is that they may not be willing to tell you the truth. If it’s something that might be hard for you to hear, your friend may not want to be the one that has to tell it to you. A therapist is more likely to be willing to get to the root of your issues and ask questions you may not have thought about.
None of this is to say that you shouldn’t go to your friends with your problems. However, I do encourage anyone who believes they are struggling with real mental disorders to seek professional help. While the process is not easy by any means, it will ultimately be what’s best for your health.