My Therapy Journey: De-stigmatizing Mental Health

For the past seven years of my life, I have been seeing a therapist on and off. Since starting my therapy journey I’ve come to accept that therapy is almost always going to be a part of my life. Naturally, I’m a firm believer that talking about therapy should be a more normalized and conventional conversation.  Seeking outside help from a mental health specialist does not mean I, or any other individual is weak. If anything, it’s quite the opposite. It takes an incredible amount of strength for anyone to ask for help, especially when it’s from a stranger. So why is therapy still such a taboo? I may never fully understand. With the hopes that this might start a positive conversation about mental health, I’m here to share my therapy journey. 

Up until I was about nine years old, I was living a perfect white picket fence life. My parents were happily married. I had one younger sister, we had the perfect family dog, and a nice suburban house. Growing up, I had all I could ever ask for. However, at the age of nine, things started to drastically change. My parents decided to separate and eventually divorce. Meaning that my dad was moving back to California, where he stayed until he moved back when I was twelve. While a divorce is traumatizing for most any child. This, ultimately, is not what ended up sending me to therapy.  At the age of twelve disaster struck. In the three years that my dad had been in California, my mom had remarried one of the worst men I’ve ever known. The only good thing spurring from that marriage was my now youngest sister. However, the return of my dad meant that tensions began to rise at home. Then, the straw that broke the camel’s back. A close family member had attempted suicide. It was at this point that my family decided I had seen enough, and that I needed to talk to someone.

My first therapist was extremely kind and always came from a place of good intention. She was dedicated and sincerely interested in me. However, she wasn’t the most observant nor was I totally ready to tell the whole truth. So while on a surface level she was extraordinarily helpful. I was young, naive, and had a hard time trusting others. I had seen this therapist for a total of four years. The first two years went seamlessly. She always seemed to understand what I was trying to communicate and how to help me. As I got older, my problems morphed from being surface level familial issues. To deep internal turmoil, the more these issues developed the more I retreated into myself and away from her. At some point in my sophomore year of high school my family found out about my self harm and other issues. By proxy my therapist also found out. The aftermath of the entire situation was chaotic, but never once was I asked why I did any of what I did. People kept trying to fix me without knowing the root cause of any of my issues. This is when I lost all faith in therapy. That is until my freshman year of college.

Between my sophomore year of high school, and my first semester of college I had coped with everything on my own. I had gotten myself to what was a seemingly healthy place. I was excited about what all the good that was coming my way. During my first ever semester of college, things began to spiral in a downward direction. A week before finals I had a total mental breakdown in the very public library of my school. It was at that point that I decided I need to again seek outside help. This time things went very differently. I was much more upfront with this therapist. I knew that I needed to be blatantly honest if I ever wanted to get better. I told her that I was not always the greatest at articulating my emotions, or my mental state. I asked her to bear with me while I stumbled my own words and emotions. Slowly I began opening myself to her more and more, and progressively I began to see a positive trend in my mental state. I began to feel more myself again. I’d found someone that I fundamentally trusted, and someone I knew would not judge me. No matter how flustered or crazy I sounded. She pushes me out of my emotional comfort zone. She’s taken the time to get to know me and why I do the things that I do. She’s helped me realized that my mental health is not stagnant and will constantly be evolving. I’ve learned things that I thought I would have never understood in a thousand years.

While this long journey has been tumultuous and full of ups and downs. It’s a journey I’m eternally grateful for. It’s taught me so much about myself and has helped me grow. I’ve been so fortunate to have access to any mental health professional, let alone for seven years. For all of those years and the years to come I am thankful.

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