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How I Fought Against the Stigma to Receive Therapy for My Anxiety


For me, the stigma surrounding mental illness and therapy has always been there. I grew up surrounded by it. The stigma surrounding mental illness and therapy prevented me from reaching out for help. I didn’t want people to think I was ‘‘crazy’’ for going to therapy.

I have cerebral palsy, and as a child/teenager I really struggled with having it. I really struggled with being different. I struggled with people staring when I lost my balance and because I walk differently. I struggled with accepting the learning disability that my cerebral palsy has caused.

Growing up, people could clearly see the frustration and turmoil I was dealing with. Many doctors and loved ones recommended therapy. Because of the stigma surrounding mental illness/therapy, I couldn’t bring myself to go. I was too scared of the stigma. In May of last year, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. After being diagnosed with GAD and having therapy suggested to me once again, I decided to go. I fought the stigma.

 

I couldn’t have fought my fear of therapy/the stigma of therapy/mental illness without the help of my best friends and people in the public eye whom I greatly admire. Demi Lovato is one of my biggest role models in life. She decided to openly talk about her struggles and her treatment. Watching and reading the countless number of interviews where she openly talks about her bipolar disorder and the treatment she receives for it made me feel that it was OK to go to therapy and that therapy could really help to improve my life. After hearing her talk about therapy, I wasn’t scared to go anymore and no longer thought of it as a “bad” thing.

My three best friends are the most nonjudgmental people I know. I knew saying to them, “I have a mental illness and am going to therapy” was never going to bother them. I wasn’t scared to see/hear their reactions because I knew they wouldn’t judge me. They have been a huge help and one of the main reasons I was able to fight the stigma of therapy and mental illness. My best friends mean so much to me.

Going to therapy has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’ve learned how to love myself, stand up for myself, figure out who I am as a person and have learned how to correctly manage my anxiety disorder.

For the last 11 months, I’ve been doing therapy through an online platform called Talkspace. I text my therapist anytime day or night. She always gets back to me in a timely manner and with thoughtful responses. She cares that I get to a better place within myself. She is one of the most nonjudgmental people I know. Being able to write out my feelings to Laura has been extremely helpful to me. There have been many times where I can’t quite say what I feel, but I can write it.

Looking back, I really wish I would have started therapy sooner. If there wasn’t such stigma surrounding therapy and mental illness, I would have. I hope to help end the stigma of mental illness and therapy. I hope that others will get help sooner. I hope they will avoid feeling the sadness, anger and anxiety that I felt as a child, teenager and adult by getting the help they need.

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Thinkstock photo via monkeybusinessimages.


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