You’d be surprised to find how many of your closest friends have gone to therapy and never told you about it.
I was surprised, too.
None of my friends talked about it during high school. Later on, I found out that not one, but many of them saw a therapist during those years. I was blind to something that seemed so important in their lives, yet so hidden.
Truth be told, I am not sure how I would have reacted in the past. It was not until college when I understood how crucial it was to protect our mental health at all costs. It was also the first time a friend suggested I try therapy.
I began to notice how many of my loved ones suffered through undiagnosed mental illnesses in silence for various reasons. Maybe no one had suggested therapy, or maybe they just felt being vulnerable was somehow wrong.
People today are dealing with mental illness more than ever before, with 1 in 5 adults experiencing some form of it throughout 2020. Despite an increase in the number of people seeking treatment in recent years, the negative stigma surrounding therapy is a tale as old as time. Seeking help makes us vulnerable and can be a source of shame or embarrassment for many people. Furthermore, by seeking help you are accepting that you need it. It makes it real.
The negative stigma that going to therapy carries is fueled by common misconceptions and myths. I like to think of it this way: going to therapy is like going to the doctor for a yearly physical checkup, even when there is nothing in particular that worries you. You do not have to be at an emotional rock bottom to talk your emotions out. Therapy is about learning how to cope, communicate and understand yourself better. What you learn can serve you in the future, in situations that have not even happened. For me, therapy has been a source of growth like no other, and I simply find no reason whatsoever to feel ashamed about it.
Wanting to protect your mental health should never be a source of shame. The willingness to be vulnerable is a sign of strength. Deciding whether to talk about your experience with therapy is your personal decision. However, starting these conversations and normalizing them are necessary to fight the stigma. To prevent more of our friends, our loved ones, from suffering in silence.
So the next time a friend mentions something about therapy, do not make them feel like they are talking to a stranger. Be supportive. Deciding to share that experience can be an important first step for some. There is truly no health without mental health, and we should normalize wanting to take care of it.