I saw this tweet this morning:
Therapy is like someone gently walking through your brain and looking around like, “This how you living??”
— Heben Nigatu (@heavenrants) February 8, 2019
That struck a note with me, because today I had therapy. I’m starting with a new therapist because now that I have submitted my thesis and the college year is over, over, I no longer qualify for the free counselling service.
I was nervous. And I have to keep reminding myself that that’s OK. Even though I had a really good experience with my therapist in college, I’m starting over today, which means at some point in the near future I might have to revisit some things I’ve already talked about, but that this new therapist doesn’t know about yet. And this therapist is effectively a stranger.
There’s something both comforting and disconcerting about that. It’s separate to the rest of your life so they won’t be watching you go about regular life with worry in their eyes or try and talk to you when you’re exhausted from just surviving the day. But I’m about to lay my soul bare to a stranger at the same time. Tell them things that maybe I’ve never told anyone else. So it’d probably be a bit weird if I wasn’t a bit nervous, when you put it like that.
Being honest, I’ve put off booking this first session for longer than I should have, because of those thoughts. But I know, that even though it’s draining and nerve wracking and involves poking at wounds that I’ve probably ignored or pretended didn’t exist and thinking about things I spend the rest of my days trying my hardest not to think about, it will help in the long run.
I take pills. I do a lot of work by myself, on myself. And at varying times in the past, that’s been enough. But at the moment, without therapy, I’m frantically treading water, doing my best not to drown, and there’s only so long i can keep that up before my arms get tired. I can’t do this by myself, and there’s just as little shame in that as there is in the tablets I take every day, or the bargaining with myself I sometimes have to do to get myself out of bed in the morning.
I talk about my mental health on here for a lot of reasons. It affects my life. It sometimes helps me sort my own thoughts out about some things. But mostly I talk about it because I know, I really know, how hard it is to talk about it. Stigma still exists. It can be hard to access the right help right away, for various reasons. But I also know, from both my personal and my work lives, how much it helps. How much it can change everything.
You matter. You deserve to be heard. You have the right to get help. So if you’re not OK, that’s OK. I’m not OK either. But it’s OK to ask for help, and while it’s not OK if nobody responds, if that happens it’s vital that you keep asking, no, demanding, until you get it.
If you are OK, but you know someone who is not, let them know you’re there for them. It’s OK if you can’t fix them – just having someone who knows but who still loves us can make all the difference.
May is mental health awareness week. This is advertised throughout Ireland by the use of the green ribbon. I can’t tell you the difference it makes to me, walking around, seeing all these people silently letting me know they’re my ally, signaled by the green ribbon on their jacket. It makes me feel seen, accepted. And that’s makes it a bit easier to be more accepting of myself on the days when I struggle with that.
For more information on the Green Ribbon, click here
If you need to ask for help for yourself and your mental health, click here
If you would like some tips on supporting someone you know who is struggling with their mental health, click here.