I believe – and I don’t know if this will shock you or not – that everyone should see a therapist.
The craziest thing about that opinion, is that it still feels kind of taboo. I still don’t really know while typing it how it will make people feel, if it will shock some, offend some, or just freak some the f*ck out.
And that seems pretty ridiculous, in this day and age, when mental health has become kind of the “hot topic” to talk about when we’re all stumbling over ourselves to talk about how we can save the world and make society better.
But there’s still something that scares people about talking about mental health in the easy, non-judgemental way that we talk about our workout routines or our diet. Or going to the doctor.
Why can’t we start treating our mental health in the same way that we would our physical health? Why shouldn’t we be tracking it like we track our steps with our fitbits, or talking about going to therapy like we discuss our workout classes?
Because our mental health is just as important as our physical fitness, if not more.
Mental health shouldn’t just be something to fix if it goes wrong, it should be something to maintain. Like how we work to maintain….our general health. Why is it all not one and the same?
And the most important reason that we should all be talking about it? Because so many people are going through it.
We’ve been taught that mental health is something taboo, something to only talk about or treat if someone is visibily “crazy” or falling apart. But that’s just not true. I genuinely believe that absolutely everyone could benefit from doing something about their mental health. Taking care of it, treating it, or just talking to someone.
And that’s why I said it: everyone should go to a therapist.
The flip-side of that is that if we’re all more open to it and more aware of it then it makes it easier for people who need it to get help.
I meant it when I said more people are going through it than you’d ever think. Not just the people who are visibly struggling or showing whatever their symptoms might be, but also the people who are getting on with their day-to-day lives, battling something that’s underneath, more likely than not trying (and subsequently failing) to deal with it on their own.
You might doubt it, but pretty much every single person around me is either currently doing something to help their mental health, or has done. My closest family members are all taking anti-depressants (for different reasons), almost all of my closest friends have been to a counsellor, I’ve had multiple ex-boyfriends who were dealing with depression or anxiety while we were together, two of my best friends have suffered from serious panic attacks for prolonged periods of time.
As for me? I’ve suffered anxiety to the point where I’ve had to be signed off work, been to therapy, been to my GP about depression, had times when I’ve been having regular panic attacks, and had my mental health affect my life in ways that have affected my work, my friendships, my ability to look after myself…
It’s not uncommon. It’s nowhere near as unusual and “unspoken” as we’re treating it.
And we shouldn’t have to feel embarrassed to talk about it, to share our experiences, to admit to going to therapy or doing something to actively improve our mental health.
The most frustrating thing is, we can all do things to help our mental health. There are so many options of treatments, practices, different therapies and groups that can drastically change people’s mental health, and more importantly their outlook and capacity for life.
But it’s hard (or more likely, impossible) to deal with alone. And that’s why we need to talk about it.
We need to get rid of this idea that “suffering in silence” is stronger. That people who just deal with it and get on with their lives are the strong ones who are more capable.
No. What takes strength and courage is to speak out when you need help, to do something about it, and to face up to dealing with your own mind.
Yes that’s scary. Yes, that’s hard. But it’s also something seriously strong and powerful, and something to be proud of.
I’ve had three relationships with men who refused to do anything about their mental health, even when they were clearly, drastically struggling and knew it themselves. Because they were too in denial or too afraid to confront it. And it’s sad but ultimately it means that they haven’t been able to change. Because hiding it and “getting on with it” doesn’t make it go away. It makes it worse, and it makes the ways that you find in the world to deal with it – whether that’s drugs, alcohol or anger – way worse.
And until we break down the taboo that sits around mental health and the way we look at, people who don’t feel they can speak out will continue to suffer.
You’re not weaker for doing something about your mental health, you’re stronger.
We’ve come a long way in the conversation, but still not far enough.
The fact that, for Mental Health Week, there will be hundreds of posts like this one circling the internet is a good thing, but we still need to normalise it more, make more help readily available, share more people’s stories. I hope that by me sharing mine, it can help others to realise that their’s is normal too, and do the same.
Because it’s just human. Our minds and whatever they do, whatever problems they have, are just part of what makes us human, and of course we need to look after them. All of us.
If you or someone you know is having an issue with their mental health then please visit the Mental Health Awareness Week website for more info and help. If you want to find out more about counselling or find a therapist then I recommend BACP where you can search for a liscensed, qualified professional therapist near you.