If you’re reading this and you’re struggling, please seek help
by Olivia Langenberg
Features and Lists Editor
Every Wednesday at 3:45pm I wave goodbye to my roommate, leave my apartment, carefully choose a playlist, and blast it as I make my way through Belmont. About 15 minutes later, I casually slide onto a couch in the waiting room of my therapist’s office. You see, I’m not afraid to talk about this. I’m not afraid to let my friends know that I’m busy because I have a therapy appointment. Whether it’s over-said or not, there’s still a stigma around mental illness, and I refuse to let anyone silence me when I talk about my experiences.
Specifically, I want to focus on therapy and its effects on my life. I’ve struggled with mental illness for most of my adolescent years, and I can confidently tell you that I’m way better off when I’m in therapy versus when I’m not. I’ve seen plenty of mental health professionals, gone through the same diagnostic appointments, and sunk into the same couches week after week for a long time. Sometimes I don’t want to go. Sometimes I feel like I have nothing to say. But then I think back to the times that I wasn’t in regular therapy, and I can reassure myself that I’m doing the right thing to take care of myself.
I can remember what it was like the first time I nervously sat in a chair in front of a therapist. I couldn’t stop fidgeting, and my mind was racing with the reality of where I was, and what this all meant. I believed a lot of stereotypes about going to therapy when I was younger. I really thought you had to be at complete rock bottom before you ever walked into a therapist’s office. I thought you had to be a physical representation of every possible symptom of a mental illness before you received weekly treatment. The reality of it, though, is that there’s nothing wrong with looking for help. Whether you are at that rock bottom, or you’re just looking for someone to talk to, therapy can be the option for you. I’ve been in both places. For me, therapy is my weekly check-in, my weekly pick-me-up, and sometimes my weekly savior. Truly, the experience is different for everyone, and mental illness is different for everyone. That being said, you don’t have to have a mental illness at all to go to therapy.
I have a photo up on my wall in my room that reads “Go to therapy.” It sits beside other reminders I keep for myself like “Write more poetry,” “Don’t be afraid of making ugly art,” and “Don’t waste time on people who don’t care.” I’ve received mixed reactions when I tell people that I’m in weekly therapy. Isn’t that a lot? Well, maybe for some people. For me, therapy is a process. It’s about learning how to cope with what the world throws at me, it’s about working through ongoing problems, and it’s about growing to completely open up to someone and truly make changes in my life. I don’t feel capable of accomplishing those things once a month. So, every week when the day starts to crawl toward 3:45pm, I look up to my reminder on the wall and I think to myself that my mental health is not something to check off. It is something that I have to constantly work on, even when I have to push myself to do just that.
I mentioned before that I believe I am much better off when I am in regular therapy than when I am not. I speak from my own experience. Therapy is not the right option for everyone. Not everyone thrives from therapy. I do. I am a person who craves validation, who needs comfort, and needs someone to literally tell me that I’m not as awful as I think I am. I find that the best way for me to find a healthy mix of all that is with my therapist. Don’t get me wrong, I have wonderful friends and supportive family members. I keep a good balance of what I share with them. It’s important to be transparent about your mental health. No one can help you if you lie to them. I think of therapy as the place for me to be the most vulnerable and open, while I can simultaneously open up to the people that love me.
If you’re reading this and you’re struggling, please seek help. I know how scary it can be, and I know how lonely the process feels. People out there do want to help you. It may seem like a huge task to take on, but believe me, you have options.
If you have any questions regarding therapy when you’re away from home, the process of finding someone, or anything else feel free to email me- firstname.lastname@example.org. You are not alone.