Fun fact: I ran kicking and screaming from any kind of mental health treatment. I didn’t want to see a professional, I didn’t want to admit I needed any sort of help and I certainly didn’t want to hear what this “therapist” had to say. After all, you’re simply getting paid to talk to me, right?
I’ve spent the last few years investigating and sorting through why I held so firmly to this belief in my mind and it has brought a freedom that has allowed me to be human again, have needs again, and hope again.
Here are some of the reasons why I believed what I did and I hope you can feel my arms squeeze as you read this because you are not alone. I have felt, believed, and stumbled in all of these same ways but I pray that some part of my mental health journey will allow you to experience some of the same freedom that I had been longing to receive all along.
- “You’re only being dramatic.” If I had a penny for every time I heard this, I would be a millionaire… no a billionaire even. This phrase was so heavily engrained in my mind that I started to associate any kind of need or feeling that I had to be “dramatic.” So what did I do? I kept it to myself. Bottled it up. Sealed. No one would ever see or know and let me tell you… I felt so alone and worst of all, crazy. The most difficult part about it is that you can only bottle something within yourself for so long, but it always and I mean ALWAYS will explode out of you in some way, shape or form. Things in the dark can only stay away from the light for so long but it will find its way out and when it did for me, the phrase “You’re only being dramatic” would reinforce itself all over again, making the cycle even harder to break. This lead me to develop ongoing and daily anxiety for years that eventually lead to a panic disorder. Please continue to read as I type this: You are NOT crazy. What IS crazy is not having needs, not having feelings and not having the space to express both of those as a human being.
- “You don’t need help. You just want attention.” Does anyone else relate to me when I say this was the easiest way for guilt to take over my reality and shut me up, again? I can remember a few instances in my life where I did attempt to reach out about my experiences and the response that I received was similar to the sentence above. What happens? You feel invalid for YOUR experience (which is important) You feel rejected for the vulnerability of what you need (which is important) and you feel as though you are unworthy of the concern that other people seem to be worthy of (which is a total lie). In these moments I remember thinking:
Why am I so easy to skim over?
Why am I not enough?
Why am I not taken seriously?
These questions plagued me for years but I am now sure of this. Your mental health is valid and important, no matter the responses of those that have hurt you.
Lemme say it again for the people in the back…
YOUR mental health is VALID and IMPORTANT.
Maybe your reasonings are similar to mine and man, do I resonate with that.
Maybe you have other reasons for why you’ve shut down to the idea of taking care of the inside of you as much as the outside of you. Either way, the steps I have taken to finally nurture my needs, my feelings and my well-being have opened doors that I never dreamed would open for me.
Through the counseling I’ve received and re-learning how to be vulnerable again, I feel confident living in the truth of my experiences and knowing that it’s okay to be weak, because it’s then that I am truly strong.
Remember, it’s not supposed to be this way.
But it will be, for now.
All you can do is plant your feet firmly to the truth. Focus on what you can change. Focus on the steps you can take, believing that you are worthy and you weren’t meant to bear this load alone.
It’s okay to have needs. It’s okay to receive help from others. It’s a whole lot scarier living in the dark than it is to take one step in the light.
And that one step could change the course of the rest of your life.