To the Friend Who Cheered When I Told Her I Was Going to Therapy
While we were sharing lunch together, I decided to open up and tell you something I had told few people. As I begun to explain that one of the reasons I was home now was that I going to start therapy, you began to cheer. You hugged me and praised me. I was slightly taken aback, confused. Going to therapy felt like a shameful thing, not something to cheer about. I was embarrassed by the fact that I was going. That’s why it had taken me so many years to start therapy, why most people did not know the real reason I was back home living in my parents’ house. I had to work so hard to convince myself that it was OK to seek and need help and I thought other people would need to be convinced too. But you… didn’t.
At first, you didn’t even question why I decided to seek therapy. You just congratulated me for being brave enough to go. To you, there were no requirements for therapy, no level of brokenness that I had to reach first. There was no judgment, even if though from your eyes I seemed completely “functional” and happy and in no need of therapy. It wasn’t even just some compassionate act on your part. You truly believed that if I thought I needed help, I needed help, I deserved healing and I was brave to seek it out. And knowing that made all the difference, my friend.
You couldn’t have known in that moment that I had spent years debating to go, but deciding not to because of the stigma surrounding it. That for months before finally making the call, I had a list of lies about seeking therapy that I read through every single day to remind myself of just that: they are only lies. That in spite of this, as I made the first appointment, I began cutting more because part of me still believed the lie that I had to be sick enough and have a “real” problem, not unseen like my functional depression and anxiety, to seek help. You didn’t know any of these facts when I admitted my decision to you. All you knew was that obviously something had been hurting me inside, and I had chosen healing.
My mind wasn’t expecting this reaction, but I am so grateful you did react this way. You reinforced the truth that therapy is not something to be ashamed of, that sometimes we all need some extra help. You gave me the courage to actually go to my appointments. That moment played through my mind and helped me to put away my blades when I started to pull them out later. And this interaction encouraged me to speak more openly about my struggles and decision, further breaking the stigma and bringing healing.
So thank you friend for knowing and living out the truths behind mental illness. Thank you for being an open space where I can share without fear of judgment. Thank you for helping me recognize that this is something to celebrate and for speaking truth into my life.
A healing friend who’s no longer ashamed of going to therapy
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Thinkstock photo via criene