The stigma attached to mental health and getting therapy is still strong. Men are “supposed” to be strong and not ask for help (not even asking for driving directions). Nowadays, women often want to be “equal” to men, so they too have the desire to be strong and not want to ask for help. Both men and women keep pushing through saying “I’m fine.” Have you ever heard the different definitions for the acronym “fine?” Generally those acronyms do not spell out someone being “fine.” Look it up – Alcoholics Anonymous talks about that acronym for example. People will often ask how you are out of pure interest, but within that, sometimes they can actually tell that you are not fine – even before you recognize it. Next time you say “I’m fine” really think about it; are you really? Or are you just trying to put on a brave face?
If you recognize that you are not truly fine – that you are more irritable, you are not sleeping as well, not be eating as well, isolating more than usual, drinking or doing other things to numb your feelings, you may be close to crying, you may not have the same pleasure in things you used to enjoy, you may be more tired than usual, or feel “on edge” more, etc take a step back and think about your life as a whole right now. It is so much easier for us to say “I just had a hard day at work” or “I’m just tired” than to admit we are not actually “fine.”
But what if I admit that I’m not fine? Am I weak for not being able to handle life’s stressors? “My life isn’t nearly as bad as others.” “I shouldn’t feel like this; there’s no reason for it.” This is our big problem in our society…we think that just because we don’t have it as bad as someone else, we should be happy…aren’t we told that all the time? “Be grateful for what you have…” Well, that’s true. It is important to be grateful for what you have. However, just because you have “more” than other people doesn’t mean that you are feeling fulfilled. Sometimes more means more stress! The most important thing to remember is your feelings – whatever they are – are absolutely valid and ok to have. Once you come to terms with the fact that it is ok to feel sad, hopeless, overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, scared, etc, it is easier to deal with. You can’t fight something if you are in denial – you can’t stay safe if you deny the danger that is right on top of you. Every single human being on this planet has feelings. Every single human has the right to feel those feelings. If you have those negative feelings, isn’t it better to do something about it now before it gets worse? Stress, untreated, will just worsen.
Ok, so I understand that I am not fine right now. I’ve admitted to myself that I am feeling anxious, depressed, stressed, overwhelmed, scared, hopeless, etc. Now what? Do I need to seek therapy? Can I get over this without therapy? Can you get past it without therapy is not an easy question to answer. For some people, yes. Other people, no. It completely depends on each individual situation. The first thing I would recommend is that you check in with yourself. Are you taking time to de-stress every day? Are you doing things with people that matter to you? Are you giving yourself time to yourself? Are you getting outside? (The power of nature is amazing)! Are you eating and sleeping on a regular schedule? In general, do you have balance in life? If the answer is no, my first suggestion would be to get a routine started where you are taking care of your various needs…sleep, eat, time to yourself, time with others you love, time to de-stress, time to get outside, time with spirituality if that is important to you, etc. If you are doing all of this and it still isn’t enough, I would suggest talking with your doctor. Sometimes it can be an easy supplement fix. For example, many people in the north become deficient in Vitamin D in the winter because they do not get outside as much. Vitamin D plays a strong role in feeling happy. Talk with your doctor; get some blood work done to rule out any medical needs. Then if it still isn’t any better, I would suggest talking to a therapist. It is amazing how much just talking to someone who is non-judgmental can feel. It by itself can make all the difference in the world.
Sometimes therapists will do a free consultation as well to see whether therapy would be a good fit for you. Therapy does not mean you need to dive into all your past demons. Often therapists will work with you on what you are going through right now to improve the moment without going into your past. If you aren’t sure, what’s the harm in trying? Feel free to call or email me. We will together determine whether therapy is what you need or if you just need a few sessions to get yourself a routine that will get you back on track. The real strength of a person is their willingness to ask for help.