We’re coming up on a year in this panorama, and that’s something I never thought I’d say. I didn’t agree with too many things our last leader said, but I was really hoping he was right on how long we’d be quarantined inside. Working from home, eating at home, dating at home, pretty much doing everything we could at home is what kept us as safe as we could be for the last 12 months, and I don’t know about y’all but it’s definitely affected me mentally.
I was on an industry call last week and one of the speakers said something about work-life balance not being a thing, and I disagreed with him. He said that it was something Millennials came up with, and it might have been but it’s something that I think benefits us all. Pandemic fatigue is a thing, and I’ve also had to adjust my work-life balance. It was so easy for me to work all the time because my laptop was right here, and in my industry there’s pretty much always something to do. But I had to remember to disconnect every day, and do a true disconnect each weekend.
Those things coupled with regular therapy have helped me stay sane during this time. I’ve been going to therapy for a while now, but it’s been especially helpful these past 12 months.
My mental health journey started in 2003 after I lost my mom suddenly. It felt like my world was flipped upside down in an instant. The life that I knew up until that moment was suddenly taken away from me and if it hadn’t been for my incredibly supportive and loving step-mom I don’t know if I would’ve dealt with the sudden change as well as I did. I know I say it a lot, but I was truly blessed when it came to the step-parent department. She was the one who encouraged me and my sister to start seeing a therapist and working through whatever emotions we were dealing with. Now from my experience that isn’t common, especially in the Black community so I have to applaud my step-mom for doing what a lot wouldn’t have done.
I grew up hearing so many myths about therapy, myths that had me hesitant at first and if I’m being honest those same myths have kept some of my loved ones from seeking the help they need. I wanted to share and debunk a few of those myths today, and hopefully this process will encourage you guys to take that first step towards being proactive about your mental health.
Stigmatizing myths about therapy –
“It’s only for depressed or “crazy” people” – Lies. Fairytales. Fallacies! First of all, I’m not a fan of the word “crazy”, especially in this context. I’m a firm believer that most people can benefit from therapy, regardless of their mental state. Whether you’re going in to deal with trauma or if you’re going in to have an unbiased sounding board, therapy is a tool that needs to be used on a regular basis. It’s like going to your medical doctors, yes of course you’d go if you got hurt but there’s also those annual preventative visits too. I don’t just go and see my gyno when I think something’s wrong, I see him to make sure that nothing wrong is going on. Psychologists and psychiatrists are doctors too, and they should be visited like you would a PCP.
“Therapy means you’re weak” – The exact opposite. I think that acknowledging the fact that you don’t have all of the answers and then choosing to seek out professional help means that you’re strong. You might have been born into this world on your own, but you don’t have to deal with this life by yourself. There are so many tools available to help you be the best you that you can be. Utilize those tools! Going to therapy doesn’t mean that you’re weak, it means that you want to be mentally stronger than you are now.
“No ones going to therapy” – Another lie. This is actually a pretty common lie spread throughout the Black community. I was told from a very young age that Black people don’t do therapy, especially lower and middle-class Black people. Therapy is something for rich, White people. Now I don’t know if it was a money issue, maybe therapy wasn’t as affordable back then as it is now, but I now know that that’s not true. I know more people who see a therapist on a regular basis than people who don’t. And nowadays there are so many methods and forms of therapy. Yeah, the lying on a couch talking about your life and feelings is nice but every session doesn’t always call for that. Half of the fun with therapy is finding the best therapist for you. I went through a few different doctors before I found my current therapist and I love her. She gets me, lets me vent but holds me accountable for my bullshit. I’m at the point where I see her once a month (unless I need an emergency session which I’ve had a couple of in the past few months), but it took time for us to get there. I love that no two sessions are the same and that she is constantly challenging me to be a better me.
“You don’t need to pay to talk to someone when you have family members, friends, or God.” – Whew! I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard this one over the years. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer in prayer but I don’t think prayer and therapy are the same. I was taught that faith without work is dead, and I see my therapy session as a form of work. I’m actively working on making my situation better and that coupled with my prayer has helped me tremendously through the years. As far as using your loved ones for “free therapy”, I’m kind of iffy on that. There’s nothing wrong with a good venting session with your girls, but sometimes you need that outside opinion. Often times our loved ones are too close to the situation to truly help us; they usually mimic our thoughts and at the end of the day nothing gets accomplished. Like I said, my therapist is great at giving me that unbiased opinion and holding me accountable for my bullshit. It’s tough love, but that’s what I need. I’ve told my therapist things I’ve never said to anyone else, and I know that she will keep what we say between us. The same can’t be said about your favorite auntie. You know? A therapist has to keep your sessions confidential (unless you’re talking about harming yourself or anyone else), but a loved one isn’t bound by that same oath.
I really hope that this post encourages to you take that first step towards becoming the best you and erases your doubts when it comes to therapy. I know that finding time in your busy schedules to go and see a therapist in person can be hard, so I at least want to encourage you to check out Better Help or Talk Space. It’s an online resource I’ve heard great things about, allowing you to connect with a therapist online and on your own time.