I want to talk about therapy. As of 2018, I have collectively been in therapy for 13 years.
You’re welcome, Earth.
I have a history of severe depression, anxiety, and a delightful sprinkling of suicidal tendencies, a.k.a. MENTAL ILLNESS. (Insert dramatic music and crowds running away in black and white b-movie terror). When it first showed up so many years ago I was very blessed that I had friends in my life who insisted I wasn’t okay and pointed me in the direction of getting professional help. I send them little prayers every day.
I would love to say that stigma was just “back then” – what floors me is that that same stigma is still around today. Especially considering that one in four adults in the United States has a diagnosable mental disorder. Did you hear me? ONE IN FOUR. Suicide rates in the United States have gone up 25% since 1999. That’s not a bunch of rando’s who just decide to off themselves one day. Those numbers you’re looking at are untreated depression and anxiety. Which is exactly WHAT I HAVE why I write about it. (See Paper Doll off the new album which is aaalllllll about being suicidal.)
The idea that “only crazy people go to therapy” is ridiculous. That is just as ignorant as being scared of someone because they look different than you. You know what’s crazy? Thinking you can fix things yourself when you don’t even remotely have the tools to do so.
“No. I’m going to hit it with this stick until it’s better.”
Good luck with that.
After all my own work, I’ve been able to use my own experiences to pay it forward and help others. Because I speak about depression, anxiety, and therapy very openly a lot of people approach me to talk privately about their own issues. (Yes! Bravery! Proud of you all!) What shocks me is that a lot of them are still actively experiencing these same outdated stigmas. They are too afraid to even try therapy in the first place and in some cases have to keep their therapy work a secret even from their spouses and parents.
They commonly ask me, “How did you overcome it all?” Therapy. “How do you keep functioning when all your emotional crap is cranked up to 11?” Therapy. “How – how – HOW?”
Therapy. That’s how.
“So what should I do then, Kat?”
Go to therapy.
…about an hour later…
“But I feel a lot better now after talking this out”
That’s because I just gave you a free hour of therapy. See? Nothing to be afraid of.
You know that old jingle “I’d like to buy the world a Coke”? Well, I’d like to buy the world a fucking hour on the couch.
Again, you’re welcome, Earth.
Going to therapy does not mean you’re crazy, or broken, or a failure. Everyone in the world has had “Life” happen to them. And if you’re anything like me, when Life hit you, you didn’t have the tools to deal with it. So instead of being able to move through it you just start to self-destruct in a myriad of different ways. Overeating. Overdrinking. Overspending. Starting fights. Self-sabotaging. Eating disorders. Insomnia. Staying in destructive relationships. Staying in jobs you hate. Not taking any action to change your situation when you know you’re miserable. All signs that you’re not dealing with something.
Guess what? If you learn the tools to properly deal with whatever “It” is – “It” goes away. (I mean, you’ll still remember “It” but “It” won’t bother you anymore) Plus, you also have the amazing feeling of accomplishing something. Which I can tell you from first-hand experience is so much fucking better than running from “It” for the rest of your goddamned life.
So I’m going to take this moment to tough love you all: Here is How To Therapy.
Stop being a chicken shit. If you have ever asked yourself “ I wonder if I should talk to someone about this” the answer is yes. If you like the idea of being able to vent all that horrible shit you think all the time to someone who legally can’t tell anyone what you said, the answer is yes. If you woke up a year ago and realized you don’t actually recognize yourself, your life, or the person you woke up next to – the answer is yes. If you have gotten yourself into a situation you feel stuck in. If you don’t really like yourself. If you find yourself always dating different versions of the exact same people. If you’ve never really gotten over a loss you’ve suffered. If you are getting in your own way. If you bury yourself in drinking/drugs/sex/shopping/whatever. Yes. Yes. Yes. Go to fucking therapy.
Before you even pull out your insurance booklet – who do you want to talk to? Picture a vague version of your therapist in your head. Gender or lack thereof? Age or lack thereof? If you know of any friends in therapy ask for recommendations or randomly pick someone covered by your insurance and then see if they have any Yelp reviews. Got no money? Some counseling centers offer discounted sessions done by psychology students in their final year of medical training – these are great places! You can also try websites like www.goodtherapy.org or even online therapy like Talk Space. It doesn’t really matter where you start – just start somewhere. Feel free to tell them you’re new to this and have no idea what you’re doing. They’ll help you! That’s their JOB.
Commit to 6 sessions to decide if you really like this therapist. (Unless the chemistry is just flat out off/on at the first session.) If after six sessions you still don’t really like your therapist or the jury is still out, then try another one. When you have found the right therapist for you, you will look forward to going even when you’re not looking forward to going. You will love them the way you love your hair stylist, or your bartender, or your auto mechanic who is the only person in the world you will ever bring your car to.
Be brutally honest with them – and more importantly with yourself. Therapy is a tool to help you learn yourself better. If you don’t actually know why you’re there – tell them that. If you don’t really see how therapy is going to help you, then tell them that. But keep showing up anyway.
Don’t expect to notice a change right away. Humans hate change. You will definitely notice something after a month or so. You’ll catch yourself reflecting, or you catch yourself trying to self-sabotage, or you’ll just catch yourself being self-aware.
1-800-273-8255. This is the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. I see you shaking your head at me. Put it in your fucking phone. It’s in my phone. I’ve used it. When you wake up in the middle of the night and you can’t go back to sleep these are the people who will talk to you anonymously. Put it in your phone. Use it.
Learning who you really are is one of the most rewarding experiences in life. You are the only person you live your whole life with, so why not sit down and get to know yourself? Once you’ve been to one or two sessions you’ll see there is zero reason for any stigma to surround going to therapy. It’s just there to help you.