Therapy for Me
For a long time, I had the wrong idea about therapy. I grew up with a negative mentality of therapy. In my culture, the way “our people” used to talk about therapy made me think that people who need therapy are weak or crazy. Everyone says, “that’s a white people thing.” So, that’s how I looked at therapy. When I finally realized the truth about therapy, it wasn’t an “aha” moment or anything. It was the way my life was, the pressure on my shoulders, and the struggles I was facing.
As I got older and went through everyday struggles, I realized that it might be helpful to talk to someone who could look at my life from the outside and shift things into perspective for me. You can talk to the people in your life, but when you get so overwhelmed, you can’t put that pressure on other people because it feels like you will worry them. You get tired to a point that you realize you need more than rest.
When I did finally accept therapy, one of the things my therapist and I talked about was how I couldn’t sit still and just do nothing. One day, she asked me, “how was your day?” and I said, “it was unproductive because I didn’t get anything done.” She immediately reminded me, “you’re a mom, you work, you take care of a household.” She said, instead of looking at the time you spent at work today as unproductive, why don’t you look at it as a day when you took time to rest for yourself, and say “you know, I’ve gotten so much done this week, why don’t I take a moment to chill?”
Do you see how something so simple can be helpful? Sometimes we get so caught up in our own messes that we can’t see our successes. It takes someone else to look at it all and encourage you to do the same. Our people think religion is the only solution. But sometimes you need someone to talk back and help you work through your issues. God is always there for me, and he always will be. That doesn’t mean that I can’t have my therapist there for me too.
Therapy is more than psychiatry and medication. In this blog, when I mention therapy, I am talking about counseling. So let’s define therapy.
Therapy: the provision of assistance and guidance in resolving personal, social, or psychological problems and difficulties, especially by a professional.
Basically, therapy is:
- Getting help
- Behavior change
- Putting your life into perspective
- Getting an outsider’s perspective
- Seeking professional advice
Therapy & Culture – Taboos:
Let’s break down the myths about therapy.
- Seeking therapy means you’re “crazy,” “mentally ill” or “weak” – It doesn’t. Everyone gets stressed and overwhelmed, and we could all use some help dealing with it.
- “Our people” never needed therapy before – That’s false. Most of us needed it, but we never went after it before.
- You don’t need therapy if you believe in God – Don’t let someone shame you by saying going to therapy means you’re not faithful. You can have God and therapy. God is the creator of all things, including modern medicine and therapy. Why not use this tool that God has blessed us with?
- Therapy means “you’re too westernized” – Taboos about therapy exist in most minority groups, including the African community, the Muslim community, Black communities, etc. Don’t let our people convince you not to get help.
- We think we deal with stress well – We all need help. In many of our cultures, our people are very angry, we yell and scream, and we hold onto their feelings. Therapy gives us new ways to deal with our emotions.
- Find therapist(s) you can relate to (racially, culturally, gender, etc.).
- Find therapists that can address your specific needs (find out if you need a trauma therapist versus a family therapist).
- Find therapists within your budget (Does your insurance cover therapy? They might! Make sure you ask.)
- When people hear therapy, they think “rich,” but many times, insurance will cover part or all of therapy. Sometimes insurances will even reward you for using therapy because you’re taking advantage of a preventative/self-care measure.
- Shop around until you are comfortable and happy with your therapist.
- Mix therapy into your everyday life (fit it into your schedule, i.e. on your way home from work so you don’t have to do extra).
What do you all think about this? Have you tried therapy? Share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences below. I’m sure someone could use your advice, and I hope sharing my story was helpful to some of you.
- Why do we avoid therapy?
- Why should we do therapy?
- Who should seek therapy?
- What should we tell our families/kids about therapy?