Peeking around at the room full of patients, I couldn’t believe my mother had dragged me to this place, again. After checking in, we waited to be called back. Finally, the elderly white woman came out and called my name. I was 11-years-old with more attitude than I could handle. Not only did I not want to be in therapy, I didn’t want someone with one foot in the grave as my therapist. Needless to say, I was mean to her. I made sure she knew I didn’t want to spend 45 minutes talking about my feelings. I didn’t want to talk about being bullied, false rumors being spread, or why I was growing up too fast. Not with her or anyone else. All that changed during one of our sessions. I was so tired of being in pain and feeling mad at the world. I broke down. I was crying to the point where my mom told me she heard me all the way in the waiting room. That day was the first time I realized therapy can be beneficial. After that appointment, I was an open book. I even brought my poems in to share with her.
That was 9 years ago, and since then I’ve had more therapists and psychiatrists than I remember. There were some who helped. Some I loved and some who broke my trust, making it difficult for me to continue seeking treatment.
Today I want to discuss therapy, finding the strength to get back in it, and how you can seek help. The general definition of therapy is treatment which is intended to relieve or heal a disorder. For the purpose of connecting my personal experience to this post, I am going to be referring to talk therapy or psychotherapy. I won’t be going in depth about the different forms of therapy in this post so I’ll leave a link below.
Psychology Today – https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/types-of-therapy
According to Psych Central, “Psychotherapy — also called “talk therapy” or just plain therapy — is a process whereby psychological problems are treated through communication and relationship factors between an individual and a trained mental health professional. Modern psychotherapy is time-limited, focused, and usually occurs once a week for 45-50 minutes per session.”
It’s also important to note, there are different types of psychotherapy.
As a 20-year-old, I feel ashamed when I look back on the countless therapists I’ve connected with. It’s almost a “what’s wrong with me” moment as I spend time reflecting on each experience. Realizing I need therapy to not only help manage my bipolar and anxiety symptoms but to help me unpack baggage, has been difficult. I think for so long I was in denial about needing extra help, assuming I could do it by myself, it caused me to flinch at the mention of seeking therapy. About a year ago, my psychiatrist talked about me needing to get into therapy and I agreed but made little effort to do so. Fast forward to October of this year, I’m back in the chair and sitting across from me is my psychiatrist, who I trust. She assumed all this time that in conjunction with the medication I was taking, I’d been in therapy. I’d been depressed and anxious the weeks leading up to my appointment wit her. We talked again about therapy, this time my significant other was present. During that appointment I realized the impact traumatic experiences can have on an individual. I cried as we talked about where I was mentally and emotionally. Not only do I need help managing my mental disorders, I need help for the trauma I’ve endured. I knew then I couldn’t continue on this path. I’m aware even the best antipsychotic can only do so much.
The next morning, I called to schedule an appointment with a therapist at my doctors office. The night before my appointment, doubt kicked in. I just knew I wasn’t going. The next morning I woke up to find sticky notes placed throughout the house by my partner. It was the push I needed to get up, get dressed, and show up.
I’m older and more aware now so I have a preference in what I’m looking for in a therapist. The lady I’m currently seeing isn’t who I saw myself meeting with but our first two sessions have gone well. I’m keeping an open mind as I travel down this journey of growth and healing. I realize I’ve been afraid of growing. Afraid of getting better. Of healing. I also realize it’s ok to be fearful but it’s not ok to continue allowing it to hold you back. I deserve help and so do you.
- Sometimes we know we need help but are unsure of where to start. A good place would be searching for therapists in your local area.
Here are two links to help you get started:
Therapy For Black Girls – Therapist Directory https://www.therapyforblackgirls.com/therapist-directory/
Psychology Today – Find a Therapist https://www.psychologytoday.com/us
- Another suggestion is to write down your symptoms. I personally do this as it helps to ensure I remember to talk about everything I’ve been experiencing. Also, getting everything written out might help you feel more attuned with yourself.
- Give yourself a pep talk. Look in the mirror and get real with yourself! If you’re like me, you’ll have doubts before and/or after you schedule your first appointment. Remind yourself why you’re seeking therapy. Remind yourself you deserve help.
- Keep an open mind. It’s ok to have preferences and expectations but as you embark on your journey of finding a therapist, keep your mind open to the possible outcomes.
- Ask questions. During your search, don’t be afraid to contact a therapist or the office they work at and ask questions. You deserve to have an idea of who your therapist is before meeting with them.
- If you have insurance, make sure it will cover the cost of your sessions. If you don’t, research other options such as programs geared towards helping those without health insurance.
- Remember there is nothing wrong with going to therapy. You might feel going to therapy means you’re “crazy”. It doesn’t. What it means is that you have the courage to believe you’re worthy of having a healthy mind.
If you’re in need of therapy, take those first steps.
If you have any more helpful suggestions or would like to share your experience with therapy, comment below!