Therapy is still stigmatized, and if you say it isn’t you’re lying.
I’m new to it. And one of the reasons I know it’s not seen as completely kosher is because I used to be one of the people who looked down on it. I’d think: this person can’t handle their own emotions like the rest of us? Are they *that* weak? I also used to think it was just for the crazies, and since I’m relatively sane, not on anti-depressants, and never contemplated suicide, I didn’t need it.
But I was so wrong.
Months back, I realized I needed someone to listen. It’s hard, these days, to find a person who can commit an hour of their time to listening to you, not because they’re bad people, but because we all have these insane lives and schedules and our own hidden agendas. Even my best friends are busy. We just don’t have a handful of time to devote to someone else’s neuroses. And I’ve always been the paranoid type — apologizing after crying to someone, getting embarrassed because I showed a bit too much vulnerability. It’s oftentimes painful for me to open up to people I know, which is strange and doesn’t make sense on the outside, but it kind of actually does if you really think about it. Sometimes we need the removal or absence of a relationship in order to really talk.
So, I started seeing one, and I talked for an hour and a half, with a few breaks in between to take sips of diet coke. I talked. I talked so much, and by the end my mouth felt weird because I’d used it so much. I also felt emptied out in the best way possible. It was like I had all of these words stored up, all of these jabbing and jarring thoughts that I usually tried to ignore (and failed at), these tiny instances where I’d been hurt, and instead of letting go, had latched onto them like crumbs, and I’d released all of that into this wonderful form of word vomit. At one point, I apologized, and my therapist told me that I should never apologize for feeling. And that was it — I was hooked, an addict, a word and talk session junkie. I so look forward to my weekly talks — I write down lists of topics to discuss, hoping I’ll have enough time to fit everything in. Once you realize you’re able to talk about things, you come up with so much more you’d like to say.
But I’ve come across some negativity. I’ve seen that slight shift in people’s eyes when I say I’m seeing a therapist. There’s a beat where they don’t know what to say, where they fumble for the right words — and I can guess them — reassuring things that are vague and hurried and self-conscious. And I want to tell them: there is no reason to act like this, to think of this any differently. We are all human beings, and because of that, all essentially alone, trapped in our physical bodies and gifted with these extraordinarily complex tools called minds. Sometimes we need to talk to someone else about our minds. Sometimes we just desperately need someone to listen.
I’ve been asked if I’m “okay.” I’ve always had trouble answering that question, because I don’t really know what “okay” is. Am I planning on jumping off of a building in the next month? No. Do I feel sadness at times; do I become overwhelmed with hardships? Certainly, as we all do. Every day is a game of Russian roulette with my emotions, and *that’s* okay.
My point is: talking isn’t bad, and just because someone wants to talk to a paid professional, that isn’t bad, either. We all require different amounts of support, and that’s one of the awesome things about being a human. It’s also awesome that we can use words in order to heal. Because, at the end of the day, what else is there, really? Just words, and the feelings behind them.