Are you one of the many people who have gotten the message that “going to therapy means you’re weak or broken or crazy?” This message isn’t as widespread as it was 20 years ago, or even 5 years ago, but it’s still out there, still wrong, and still stopping people from getting the mental health care they need.
Let me share a few of the reasons that going to therapy doesn’t mean you’re weak or broken, but actually means you’re strong, self-aware, brave, and trying your best to take care of yourself in a sometimes overwhelming world.
We deal with extreme levels of stress today in a world that moves faster every minute. Daily life presents more tasks, obstacles, and stressors than we could have imagined prior to cell phones, social media, and the explosive growth of technology and interconnectedness. At the same time, we’ve started to lose many of the community ties that have anchored us in the past. We're losing the support network we can turn to in difficult times.
Our brains weren’t built for such a hectic, high-tech world, and they weren’t built to live in such isolation. It’s no wonder that many people find themselves feeling overwhelmed and looking for support as they sort out how to cope with these things.
Additionally, we are learning more and more about environmental factors that may be contributing to rising rates of anxiety, depression, and more. Cutting-edge research is looking at how, for example, the bacteria in our guts help to regulate mood. It's possible that people in industrialized countries with high levels of sanitation may lack the diversity of bacteria needed to maintain mood stability.
Blue light from computer and smartphone screens interferes with circadian rhythms, interrupting natural sleep patterns and lowering our defenses against anxiety and depression. Caffeine allows us to continue functioning on too little sleep, while also aggravating the nervous system and increasing anxiety. Long work hours seated at computers make it difficult for many of us to get enough physical activity, robbing us of all the mental and emotional benefits of being active.
In short, we live in a world that makes it more difficult than ever for us to stay healthy in body and mind, and this is reflected in a growing interest in counseling.
Therapy is a way to hone your strength and use it more effectively. Asking for help takes courage. Shining a light into your own psyche and examining the ways you can take responsibility for creating a better life for yourself is an act of strength and bravery. I am constantly in awe of the resilience, courage, and determination I see in my office every day. Choosing to go to therapy may just be one of the bravest things you can do.