I’ve been having kind of a hard time lately, and I don’t know who to talk to about it. I feel very worried and stressed. Sometimes, when things aren’t going well (which is often!), I actually feel how upset I am in a physical way. My heart will start beating really fast and I’ll feel almost dizzy. It’s scary!
I’ve been trying to talk a lot to my friends about this, but they don’t seem to handle it that well. They seem annoyed that I need to talk to them (I admit that I have to contact them more often than I’d like, and sometimes late at night, but I think that good friends should help each other). One of my friends even suggested I go to a therapist instead of talking to him, which really insulted me. Experts, what should I do about this situation?
It seems as if you have the wrong idea about therapy. That’s a shame, though it’s not a total surprise: there is still, unfortunately, quite a bit of stigma surrounding the idea of talk therapy.
There shouldn’t be, though. Experts agree that therapy is good for our mental health. It can give us powerful strategies and techniques to help us combat our fears and anxieties. It can make us happier and can strengthen our relationships, and it can even help us become more productive at work or in school.
In fact, getting therapy can be good for our physical health, too. Our mental health and physical health are highly connected, doctors and other experts agree. A balanced diet and regular exercise can improve your mental health, and better mental health can help you find the motivation to get the exercise you need. It’s all interconnected, which is why you should treat your mental health with the same care that you give your physical health.
And that care includes getting regular help from experts! You wouldn’t avoid your doctor if you were physically sick or injured, so why are you currently avoiding getting help from a mental health experts for your mental health issues? It doesn’t make sense, and, unfortunately, it seems to be related to common myths about mental health care.
You say that you were “really insulted” when your friend suggested that you head to therapy. Is that because you believe that therapy is only for “crazy” people? If so, you’ll definitely want to reexamine that idea. Mental health is not binary: there are all sorts of degrees of mental health conditions, from the most serious to the most mild. You don’t have to be in a terrible mental health situation to benefit from therapy.
Therapy is for everyone, explain the experts at Therapy Group of DC. Being able to talk to an expert about your feelings and your situation will give you new insights into your behaviors and the ways in which your brain works, helping you to be a better person—no matter how good of a person you may already be!
And here’s another myth dispelled: therapy is not for when nobody else will listen. You can have lots of friends and still go to therapy—in fact, as you’re discovering, therapy can be a great alternative to overburdening your friends. While you may feel that playing therapist is what good friends should do, you’re not properly accounting for the burden that friends feel when we unload our mental health issues on them constantly. Your friends are there for you, but they’re not paid therapists or mental health experts. They shouldn’t be on call for you in the middle of the night, and they aren’t equipped to give you the right insights and advice even if they want to help. Give them a break, and go to an expert instead!
Therapy is a powerful tool for understanding and improving your mental health situation. It would be a great choice even if you were not dealing with any mental health issues—and it seems that you are. You should talk to an expert about anxiety. You should mention your physical symptoms, too: you may be dealing with panic attacks.
Where your journey takes you isn’t for us to guess—you need an expert to learn more. But we can tell you this much: when you let myths about therapy keep you from heeding your well-intentioned friend’s advice, you deny yourself the relief and power of therapy.
“Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson