It Is Okay For You To See A Therapist

While going through a recent YouTube video featuring Dr. Ramani Durvasula, I heard her talk about how we tend to converse with each other in regular tones about going to a hairdresser, or a designer, or an architect, but when it comes to telling people that we’re going to a therapist, our voices are suddenly hushed and muffled as if we’re trying to get the comment past without anyone noticing it. Why should it be that way when going for a regular physical check-up is just as important as going for a mental health check-up?

So many years of evolution yet we haven’t evolved enough to be comfortable talking about mental health.

What is important to understand here, right off the bat, is that people start talking about something when they’re aware of it or when they actually feel the need to learn more about something, but things become taboo when we assume that something is not worth knowing or (more dangerously) that our knowledge of it is absolute (no knowledge is absolute!). Something similar is happening with the case in point — conversations about mental health. There are so many such assumptions that are snowballing into a bigger problem here. A few examples that fit the population mostly (not entirely):

  • Parents refrain from talking about mental illnesses in front of their kids for the need to shield them from harm because they feel that by talking about depression they might induce depressed feelings in their kids — which is totally absurd. Would talking about cancer suddenly give someone cancer? No.
  • The same children whose parents never spoke about mental health and the issues surrounding it in front of them start to assume that it’s all taboo because they’re not allowed to talk about it at home so something has to be terribly wrong and they must not talk about it either, or worse, they ask their peers (who don’t know much themselves) or look it up on the internet (much much worse considering that kids don’t even know exactly what knowledge they’re looking for). If you can see, there’s kind of an analogous pattern to this just like young teens experimenting with knowledge about sex and intimacy. So now, even if they do come to know something (or anything at all) they must whisper and look down upon it.
  • When enough people collectively start behaving this way, the ones who actually are suffering from even mild emotional issues, are frowned upon and treated as untouchables or outcasts which does more harm to their disposition and no amount of therapy can make them feel better.
  • Those few people who actually are educated enough, struggle to share their knowledge because there are no takers. And the ones who do go in for therapy, wish to keep the engagement under wraps (there are people who’d rather let their spouse accuse them of infidelity than sharing their agony and the truth about seeing a therapist after work hours).
  • Then there are celebrities. When cases like the suicides of Chester Bennington, Robin Williams, and Anthony Bourdain, or the struggles of Deepika Padukone start to surface, people are naturally interested in the gossip (yes, that’s the word) but not in finding out more about the issues and the possible solutions to prevent and treat the same issues. As a consequence to that, people start to randomly throw around words like depression or anxiety or psychopath or bipolar as if they were handing out flyers for a concert.

All in all, the mental health world is in a sorry state of affairs thanks to the reasons cited above (and more like them). So what are we supposed to be doing? Well, for starters, we need to talk!

Firstly, after having whined about why people are unwilling to talk about mental health, I believe it is important to acknowledge the fact that Psychology and Psychiatry as subjects are gaining pace on the interest field steadily. More and more people are actually showing interest in learning about the workings of the mind and how things can change for the better (Amen to that!). With the increasing popularity and usage of the interweb, more and more people are willing to open up and visit a therapist to help them cope with the pace of the outside world or gain control over their inner environment which is a big step towards self-care and self-love*, and people deserve encouragement for it more than is given already.

Secondly, coming to “the talk”, we need to — as a society — come together to lend a helping hand in spreading healthy awareness about mental health, especially so because humans are social animals — we need to feel like we’re part of the group and not be treated as outcasts or be looked down upon. We need to stop calling people undergoing treatment for mental ailments as “crazy” or “psychopathic”, no they’re not (well not all of them, and even the ones that are, do not deserve such discriminative and racist treatment for something they might not be largely in control of). There is no lack of actual scientific proof that interpersonal relationships play a major role as decisive factors in how and when a person will recover from their issues, so it’s high time we started to put our heads and hands together to actually behave ourselves and function as a society should (in other words, we all need to “grow up”).

Thirdly, for those who seek treatment and regularly see a therapist — there is no need to keep things under wraps. Instead, study about the issues you’re facing — read articles, watch videos, bombard your therapist with questions — then come back home and impart that knowledge to your near and dear ones and make them understand what it’s actually about and how important it is for you to see a therapist. Let me reiterate — Visiting a therapist is just as important for your health as is visiting a physician. In fact, people should visit a therapist even when they are not facing any major issues to make sure they’re on track and mentally healthy (just like a regular physical check-up). Period.

Lastly, there is absolutely nothing wrong with paying a visit to a therapist. In fact, it is a major step towards self-discovery and mental nourishment especially in a rapidly moving and tech-savvy age like the one we’re in. We’re all in a rush all day, every day and we all deserve to take a break to just stop and introspect in a healthy way and make sure we’re not doing any injustice or harm to our mind. If you think the heart’s important, well you need a healthy mind for it to keep beating properly and vice versa. And if you’re having second thoughts about whether you should or should not consider seeing a therapist, there’s only one thing you can do — go see a therapist! Oftentimes, we don’t know what we need until it’s right in front of us. And more often than that, we’re afraid to try most of the things for the first time that we end up loving later. So, it is okay to see a therapist.

*For more details on self-love and self-care, make sure to check out the quick-read article “Kindness and the paradox of one life” on my blog.

Originally published at http://wordsandinbetveen.wordpress.com on August 1, 2018.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Aparna Nayyar

I write to help people lead more fulfilling lives by helping them take care of their psychological well-being.