Sometimes, people need help with the process; sometimes, we need help with regaining our foundation. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. In my journey of self-love, figuring out my process, and putting it all together, I have found myself back in counseling. I’ve gone to counseling on and off since 2013 after I lost one of my closest friends to suicide. I’ve talked very openly with friends and family about it, but never publicly on the internet; in the same respect, I have no problem sharing my stories and experiences with anyone who may be interested.
I’m not sure why, but counseling, therapy, and mental health treatment overall, has a very dark cloud hanging over it. This cloud has a large stamp of “weakness” on it. I think it’s time to start a conversation about the not so glamorous side of taking care of yourself. I’ve talked in the past about letting love in, creating goals to stay rooted and happy in things that are true to you, having patience, going through the process, and keeping our feet deep in our foundation.
I don’t understand why the world has created this stigma that getting help for something is considered weak. As a child, I was taught to always ask for help when needed. Why is that any different now? I have had people insult me, or try to, because I told them I went to counseling.
“Yeah, says the girl who needs to go to counseling to keep her life together.”
I laughed when I was faced with that comment during a conversation in which I tried to offer advice. I laughed because targeting someone for something like that, I believe, makes them weak; I also laughed because they actually thought that would insult me.
Y’all… I am a Music Therapist. I truly believe in the power of therapy to help and heal people. How can I be an advocate for my profession, of helping and healing, but not be one for my own therapy and healing? It wouldn’t make sense; it wouldn’t be right. Therapy, counseling, support groups, they’re nothing to be ashamed of. Fear of judgment or rejection, or being picked on and insulted, should not stop you from seeking help, if you need to. For myself, going to my counseling appointments when they’re scheduled makes me strong, NOT weak. Getting out of bed and making myself eat on a particularly hard day makes me strong. Admitting that sometimes, no, not everything is okay, makes me strong. Singing on days that I feel like I can’t give even the smallest amount more of myself makes me strong. And frankly, I think that writing about it, talking about it, sharing my “not so glamorous side” of taking care of myself, makes me strong.
While a majority of people probably wouldn’t go blasting on the internet that they’re in therapy or counseling, I write this blog and start this conversation because, simply put, I think it needs to be talked about. We all carry different loads, and many of us have different ways of handling those; however, just because we carry them differently doesn’t mean that any one person’s way of balancing is better than another’s. I went ahead and asked some friends what they think makes them strong on their not so glamorous days, and what they do for help, and here are some of their answers:
“Getting through the day without crying.”
“Crossing things off of my to-do list.”
“Being honest, and telling someone how I’m really doing, if they ask, instead of giving a socially acceptable answer of ‘ok’ or ‘good’.”
“Walking my dog.”
“Going to my weekly Christian based support group.”
“Waking up and doing my day as planned.”
“Eating pizza after a particularly rough day.”
“Not withdrawing from others.”
“If I don’t push through, I’m just letting my dreams slip.”
“My faith… praying out loud to state all my stressors. I meditate and pray in silence. I need to talk about my problems.”
“The confidence that others have in me gives me strength.
“My ability to think logically and focus during tough times.”
“Admitting to others that I’m having a shitty day. Bottling things up makes me be harder on myself about it, and I end up feeling so much better after telling someone about it.”
These are answers collected from about ten people, so this is merely a SAMPLE of the possibilities of answers that could come if I asked every single person I knew, and if you asked every single person you knew, and etc. Finding these sources of strength from some of my closest friends and family members was actually the coolest part of writing this blog. I learned entirely new things about some of these people.
Everyone has their own way of being strong, their own way of dealing with the not so glamorous, and no one held back, was afraid to talk to me, or felt ashamed about it. Maybe that’s the key to it all. Just asking. Maybe the other is just talking. Maybe it isn’t that simple for you. Whatever it may be, know you are not weak in any single way for dealing with the tough stuff in the only way you may know how.
On the opposite side of that, if you are struggling with dealing with the tough stuff and haven’t reached out, do not be afraid to reach out to a friend, a family member, a counselor, a therapist, your God, me, whomever. I’ve said it before and I will say it over and over again: people need other people. Don’t let people tear you down for taking care of yourself and being strong in the only way you know how, even if it isn’t in a way that they consider to be acceptable.
So I don’t know, maybe you disagree, maybe it doesn’t make sense to you at all. I may even be wrong about all of it, but it’s just my view on it.
Once a week, every year in September, To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) recognizes National Suicide Prevention Week. SURPRISE, we’re in it. Tomorrow, September 10th, is National Suicide Prevention Day. This year’s campaign is based off of the words of author Matt Haig, “and so I kept living,” from his book “Reasons to Stay Alive.”
Take a read of some of their blog posts from this week, included at the bottom of this blog, highlighting other’s reasons to stay alive, or maybe even what made them stronger. If you, or anyone you know, is struggling and needs help, here is a link to TWLOHA’s “Find Help” page, linking resources to local hotlines, treatment resources, and support groups.
*I am in no way connected to TWLOHA, I am just a very large supporter and believer of their message and cause.
- Welcome To National Suicide Prevention Week
- You Are Enough, Too
- What Do I Remember
- Dear Discouraged
- This is Not the Time for Goodbyes