17 'Red Flags' That Might Mean It's Time to Pursue a Mental Illness Diagnosis

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When you’re struggling with your mental health, there may come a point in time when you realize you need to seek help for what you’re experiencing. Part of this “help” might (but not always) mean getting an “official” diagnosis. Getting a mental illness diagnosis can be beneficial for a number reasons. For many, it means getting a word to describe what’s been going on in your head, and it can also help you and your treatment team decide what treatment is right for you.

But what recovery looks like for one person may be different than what it looks like for another. It’s important to remember every individual’s recovery journey will be unique to them.

With this in mind, we wanted to know what mental health struggles people have experienced that caused them to seek out a medical diagnosis. To open this discussion, we asked members of our mental health community to share a “red flag” that let them know they needed to seek an official mental illness diagnosis.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. I cried for five hours straight. Just sobbed and sobbed until no more tears would come. That was a Friday. I made it through the weekend somehow and called my doctor on Monday.” — Noreen A.

2. “I lost all emotions and I felt lost. It was like a huge fog in my head that I couldn’t escape. I also felt very heavy, I couldn’t hold myself up. I saw no reason to continue living. Every little task was like climbing Mt. Everest.” — Melissa Z.

3. “I couldn’t bring myself to leave the house for fear of answering the voices out loud and people looking at me like I’m ‘crazy.’ That was no way to live and I’m so glad I got help and medication so I can participate in life again. I’m not 100 percent, but I’m certainly much better off now.” — Jace P.

4. “[I had] angry outbursts for no real reason… way too much clutter in my head. [I] couldn’t control the negative thinking or talk myself down from those thoughts like [I] had been able to in the past…” — Trisha S.

5. “For me it was [because] I wasn’t taking care of myself anymore. I was angry and irritable all the time. I just felt numb and empty. I couldn’t get out of bed, shower, brush my hair… all those easy day-to-day tasks weren’t easy for me anymore.” — Erin K.

6. “[My] symptoms had become physical. The exhaustion was unbearable. It was tearing me down. I had actually been put on high blood pressure medication that I was able to come off of once we were able to find some control for my anxiety.” — Amanda L.

7. “I was losing it. Everything was falling apart. I had been cheating on my girlfriend, seeking out attention from others and I started self-harming again. I dissociated daily and had no real will to live. I was extremely irritable. It was definitely one of my lowest points and that’s when I decided I needed to talk to someone. I needed to get help.” — James S.

8. “When the thought of ending everything sounded best, I knew I needed help.” — Ashley L.

9. “I was listening to [the] song ‘Wake Me Up’ by Avicii, and I related so much to the lyrics that I just broke down and couldn’t stop. Called up work to say I wouldn’t be in then [was] off to my GP.” — Josh S.

10. “When I had a crisis last year, I had my first mixed episode and I knew it wasn’t ‘normal.’ I couldn’t function much, and that wasn’t like my depressive episodes at all, so I asked for help — not as an act of bravery, but to stay alive.” — Luz B.

11. “My friend pointed out that I was different, that I just wasn’t myself anymore. He said that something was wrong and he was worried about me. I was in such a haze, I hadn’t realized how bad the depression had become.” — Caron H.

12. “I panicked in the middle of a midterm and walked out, leaving it almost entirely blank. I was freaking out that the people beside me thought I had no idea what I was doing because they had already flipped their pages and I was still on the first page. I thought the professor was going to accuse me of cheating if I looked at the clock. I made a doctor’s appointment that day to get help.” — Erin W.

13. “When I stopped crying, when I literally felt nothing. When I realized I couldn’t even remember what happiness was. When I knew I had no motivation to do anything.” — Kristina C.

14. “I started to realize something wasn’t right when hallucinations started happening more and more each passing day and when my sleep was so off due to fear and anxiety. It was affecting my everyday life. My mind was a literal mess. I knew then something was up and what I was experiencing was not ‘normal.’” — Hollie M.

15. “Losing all of my friends and constantly getting into arguments for no reason. Going up and down with mood. Energetic to complete recluse in a matter of seconds. I knew I had an issue, this was around age 13, shortly after I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder with anxiety issues.” —Maci P.

16. “I screamed the house awake seven nights in a row [and was] unable to return to sleep after waking up hyperventilating. My foster mom took me to see doctors and I got a diagnosis of PTSD and night terrors along with medication to help me manage it. Thirteen years later and I still think her decision saved my life.” — Hope H.

17. “For me, it was when people started to notice. I knew something wasn’t right but thought I could figure it out on my own or ‘power through it.’ I had always kept it somewhat hidden. Once people started noticing I wasn’t doing well, I knew it was time to see a doctor.” — Brooke R.

Thinkstock photo via IconicBestiary.

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I Was a Mental Health Intern at The Mighty, and Here's What Happened

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Core beliefs are something I’ve spoken a lot about in my time in therapy. Over time, I’ve come to believe many of the fortunate things that happen to me are either a mistake, a fluke or that I was just given said opportunity/item/gift/chance because someone felt bad for me. When I got word The Mighty wanted to hire me as an editorial intern this summer, all of those options came to mind.

They just want to give me a position because I’m a contributor. They think I’m a terrible writer and are actually only taking me so I can stop writing such shitty articles for them. They emailed the wrong person, and now they can’t take it back and oh well. They’re taking me because they feel bad for me.

Then the eating disorder thoughts.

They feel bad because your recovery is a sad mess of a life. They’re trying to make use of your joke of an illness, you were never sick. Not sick enough. Stop lying to them.

I could go on. I tell myself all kinds of things.

I then tried to challenge my thoughts.

I would say I know a lot about mental health. I’d like to think I know something about writing. I haven’t taken an English class since a frustrating freshman year college class, and I’m embarrassingly going to admit I’ve forgotten whether the punctuation mark goes inside or outside the quotation mark (read: the answer is in).

Even as I came up with these counter thoughts, or even just thoughts to distract, the negative thoughts always outweighed them. The negatives always stuck to me more, and I always seemed to quickly forget the counter thoughts.

***

Fast forward a few weeks. I’m in the office (this was before I remembered where the punctuation mark goes), and I’m nervous. Thoughts are flying. I’m doing my best. I’m coping with a recent change in my personal life, and it’s got me vulnerable. Real vulnerable. I turn in my first edit, and there’s notes. I have trouble making and admitting mistakes, and someone else has just called them out to see. I’m definitely going to be fired.

They mention an intern project on the second day, and I’ve already created “Musicians and Mental Health” in my head and get a little too passionate a little too quickly. It’s to compensate for my mistakes.

Over the next few weeks, I take a few cry breaks in the bathroom. Yeah. I’m not so stuck in my head after a few weeks of editing pieces. My heart aches, and it starts to feel pointless to edit, “I am not ok” to “I am not OK” because the point is, there is someone out there who is struggling a lot and I am sitting here editing their pain on my laptop. Something doesn’t feel right.

I start to get to know the people in the office more. The topic of my favorite group of boys, the Jonas Brothers comes up. I catch on to peoples’ personalities and likes and find I relate to most everyone in the office in some way.

The office is pretty quiet, and it makes me a bit anxious. My head tells me they’re just waiting for me to say something unintelligent. Or completely entertaining. Nothing in between. I just start talking. Sometimes I laugh randomly. I put in headphones and dance a little dance in my seat because everyone is living for Kesha’s music revival.

I go to lunch. Most of the time I go out because I need to see some sun and other scenery. Sometimes friends meet up with me. Sometimes I wander in stores. Sometimes I talk to people. I drink iced coffee. I walk back. I work. I publish. I interview. I make connections with the people I work with and we bond over silly and not-so-silly thoughts that run through our heads. We have inside jokes, and we share quotes from stories we are editing that range from heart-wrenching to helpless to hopeful. One day, I put a quote I feel perfectly describes eating disorder recovery in the group chat. I wonder, “What’s the point of me copying and pasting all these quotes?”

And then I remember. I think back to the quotes I read when I was hopeless and struggling to sit alone. Words I wanted to believe but couldn’t.

“Calorie counting is not the catalyst to happiness.”

“This is a reminder that this is not permanent.”

“I am not defined by the number of people who have asked about my GPA or the number of times I felt trapped by the answer.”

“You matter.”

I wanted someone to tell me why I was going through this, why the Universe had chosen me to have some strange set of events occur that would lead me to eating disorders. How I was going to get out of it. If I was going to get out of it. Endless questions and thoughts I couldn’t make sense of that therapists told me they understood, but I wasn’t so sure they did. I think back to my struggle and wonder what in the world got me through, and the answer is words.

I write these words so simply and easily, but there was a time not so long ago where I couldn’t. I couldn’t say I was going out for lunch or making meaningful connections or drinking coffee how I like it (with cream). I had no sense of humor. Walking was a means of compensation, not transportation. But now, I can. And I think back to what it was, and it was the conversation, the therapy, the writing, the songs, the words.

And that is why I love The Mighty. The words on this website are saving lives, telling stories, holding peoples’ hands and hearts in moments of darkness and celebration and everything in between. I think back to when I thought I was only hired so they could give me an English lesson. And then I remember, it’s because I know struggle and strength and hopeless and tired and hopeful and wonder and I believe in the power connection and words that have in our healing. And these people get it. The Mighty gets it.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

Editor’s note: We did not force Danielle to write this piece, but we did make her use correct punctuation. We’ll miss having her in the office and learning new Jonas Brothers facts each day.

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I Created a Mindfulness Technique in My Dream – and I Can't Stop Thinking About It

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Y’all, I had a dream two nights ago and I just can’t stop thinking about it. This dream has radically changed how I think about my life. I woke up today thinking about it again; it’s been three hours and I can’t sleep or stop thinking about it, so I think I’ll share. Bear with me as dreams are weird and hazy and confusing, but hopefully, you can follow along.

In my dream, I had a session with a famous therapist — the famous therapist’s name was Sally or Susan or something like that. My brain isn’t super original when it comes to names. Anyways, I was in her office with my husband, where I was crying and telling her all about my life and talking about how nothing I’m doing seems to be working. She nodded gravely and told me it was because all I was doing was repainting my porch. Stay with me, guys. This is where it gets real. I was like, “This sounds like another mindfulness exercise that isn’t going to help,” and she told me those exercises helped you recognize the chips in your porch paint and the other general wear and tear. What the heck, right? She gave me a workbook and told me I needed to do the homework before she saw me again the next day. In my dream, I went home and grumbled about having to do some more pointless analogy therapy that ultimately would do nothing for me. I then opened the workbook and what was in there was fascinating.

The Porch Theory is this idea that your life is built like a porch. (I need to add here that I am not a carpenter, have built stage set pieces, and am fully aware that what follows is not actually a good way to build a porch.) There is a poured foundation made of concrete. On top are four main support beams. Covering those are the long pieces of wood that make up the porch. Then comes the stain/paint and the decorations.

Each part of the porch represents something different. The foundation is what your every action stems from. This is the root cause of everything you do. Then the foundation beams are the four main focuses your brain has. The long pieces of wood are your values that stem from those main focuses (which are influenced by the foundation). And then comes the paint/stain, which is the actions you do and your outward symptoms, caused by the values which stem from the focuses, which are influenced by the foundation.

In my dream, I did two written exercises. The first was to analyze my life starting from the paint and working my way back to the foundation. Then I labeled a diagram of my current “porch” with what I had written. This exercise took a long time, even in dream world. I ended up skipping around to the different parts of the “porch” as I tried to make sense of everything. The end result was me staring at this “porch,” feeling as though I had been laid bare onto paper. My paint — the outward manifestation of my inward life — included things like: “People pleaser,” “excessive apologizing,” “panic and anxiety attacks,” “sobbing,” “anger towards my health,” “shame over needing mobility devices, medications, etc” and “going to countless doctor appointments even though I know this doctor isn’t the one for me.” I could go on, but you get the point. The long pieces of wood, the values, were things like: “Religion,” “putting family and friends above health,” “getting the highest education possible,” “being the best,” “keeping a clean house at all costs,” “forcing my body to stay healthy as much as possible” and “working a good job.“ The four main support beams were: “Not wanting to be abandoned,” “not wanting anyone to regret being around me,” “not wanting to be a burden” and “thinking everyone else deserves more/better than I do.”  My foundation was fear and worthlessness.

After I did this exercise, I found myself back in the dream therapist’s office, sobbing and holding my husband’s hands as I told her all about my porch. What could I do? This seemed like a horrible life I’d created for myself, and I felt hopeless about it.
She told me that yes, this is a terrible porch. It is, at its foundation, flawed. She told me I couldn’t expect a beautiful life when my thinking was all stemming from places of fear and worthlessness, the same way I shouldn’t expect a porch with a nasty, cracked foundation and rotting wood to be an amazing place to have lemonade and iced tea during the summer with my husband. She told me it wasn’t my fault my porch is awful. She jokingly told me that, with the life I’ve lived, she was surprised the whole damn house hadn’t fallen apart. I couldn’t stop crying. She got down on my level, looked me in the eyes and quietly asked me if I was ready for a new porch. I told her yes, but how the hell do I do that? She nodded solemnly and said, “Renovations.”

She then had me do the second exercise in the workbook. The second exercise was, “Describe your dream porch (aka ideal life/values/etc.). My dream porch’s outward appearance were things like: “Singing in the shower again,” “smiling,” “enjoying time with friends,” “happiness,” “baking” and “painting.” My porch boards, my values, were made up of: “Living in the moment,” “gratefulness,” “finding contentment,” “loving friends,” “relationship with husband” and others I can’t remember right now. The four beams were “mental health,” “healthy marriage,” “physical health” and “hope.” And the foundation? It was self-love.

Sounds great, right? But how to get there? Sally-Susan the Dream Therapist was a little hazy on this one, but told me that every time I am having an outward symptom or thought that echoes the nasty porch, to think of the ideal porch and try to follow along with what I think that would look like. For example, if I find myself crying over how messy the house is, I should take a step back and realize this comes from that gross foundation. I can then try to remind myself of how I want to be thinking. For example: “Yes, the house is messy but it actually isn’t hurting anyone and hey, isn’t it great that my husband and I have been resting and going places and having fun and yeah, we haven’t had time to clean the house but look at all we’ve done this week!” Another example: “Yes, the house is messy but it actually isn’t hurting anyone and if it is, I can ask husband for help because I don’t have to do it all by myself and it isn’t horrible to ask him to help and we could play music and it could actually be fun!” Or: “Yes, the house is messy but no, you haven’t ‘done nothing’ all week, you’ve taken all your pills on time and rested your joints and remember that one time you pet your dog? That was pretty awesome! It’s OK to focus on your health. Remember those beams on your dream porch? It’s OK.” She told me I was going to need to go right down to the foundation and change it and then the other changes would follow.

My dream therapist told me this was going to be nasty, messy work. She told me to think of it like any renovation. There will be setbacks. She told me that any time I experience a setback while working toward this “new porch” and feel like I’ll never get there, to just think of it as a construction issue and forgive myself. There might be termites living in the wood of the porch, waiting to be exposed. The renovation crew might take unexpected holidays and leave me with a shattered mess to work around for weeks. Maybe there’s some electrical wiring that needs to be replaced. Perhaps we’ll get the porch built and realize that the foundation was never actually touched, the crew just said they did it and we have to tear the whole thing apart again. She told me that just as remaking a foundation for a house or porch is ridiculously hard and irritating, remaking a foundation for my life will be too. And just like porches continually need weather-proofing, the occasional board replacement, repainting and other regular maintenance, keeping myself healthy will require constant work. But she told me to look forward to the days when I can sit out on a nice porch, sipping iced tea on a lounger next to my husband and watching the sunset.

Although it was a dream, I’m going to follow along with the Porch Theory and see if it works. Feel free to join me. If you’d like, you can share your own “Dream Porch” with me in the comments.

This post was originally published on the author’s blog.

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Thinkstock photo via Remains

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18 'Red Flags' That Might Mean It's Time to Talk About Your Childhood Emotional Abuse

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Editor’s note: If you have experienced emotional or physical abuse or struggle with suicidal ideation, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

It’s no secret that our experiences in childhood and adolescence often play a role in who we end up becoming as adults. This can be especially true for people who experienced emotional abuse growing up. Sometimes, when a parental figure or loved one in your life didn’t act the way you needed them to in the formative years of childhood, it can significantly impact the way you relate to the world as an adult.

Maybe you had a parent who made you feel unworthy of love growing up. Maybe you were bullied by your peers and it affects your ability to form and maintain relationships now. Maybe you’ve never even associated your upbringing with the word “abuse” and are wondering if you might have experienced childhood emotional abuse.

If you live with the effects of childhood emotional abuse, we hope this post can help you on your path to recovery.

Although everyone’s personal “red flags” are different, we wanted to know how people realized their experience of childhood emotional abuse was affecting their adult lives. To start this discussion, we asked members of our mental health community to share the “red flag” that let them know they needed to open up about their childhood emotional abuse.

Whatever your individual experience of childhood emotional abuse was, we want you to know your story matters. Your feelings are valid and you deserve to be heard. Though past childhood emotional abuse can play a part in your life as an adult, it by no means has to define it. Whether it be to a therapist, friend or loved one, if you are struggling with the effects of childhood trauma or emotional abuse, please reach out and know you are never alone.

Here’s what they shared with us:

1. “A red flag for me was my defensiveness whenever confronted with a criticism. I always thought people were attacking me because of my childhood trauma.”

2. “A journal entry of mine that stated, ‘I honestly believe I’m impossible to love.’ Reading that in a moment of clarity helped bring to light to the fact the emotional abuse from my past was haunting my future and needed to be resolved.”

3. “For me it’s that love always came with a price. So now I find it incredibly difficult to accept kindness, love, gifts and compliments. I’m always wondering what the ulterior motive is.”

4.“I realized I was avoiding all conflict like a disease, and that I felt guilty over anything that went wrong. I’d spent so long being told everything was my fault that, even when it wasn’t, my brain automatically searched for reasons why I must’ve been to blame.”

5. “[I experienced] racing thoughts and uncontrollable emotions involving the statements made by the individual. Flashbacks.”

6. “A red flag for me is my trust for males was nonexistent. By middle school I couldn’t have male teachers or be in the same room as male family members. I was emotionally abused by my father. I was so scared of males I had panic attacks nonstop.”

7. “I was both physically and emotionally abused. I realized in my teen years how angry I was. I would do and say the things done/said to me to others around me — especially to those who wouldn’t fight back (boyfriend). I hated my behavior but didn’t know how to stop. I [felt like] a monster. A negative, raging monster. Finally, after my first husband and I split (mostly because of my behavior) I got the help I needed. Therapist, self-help reading, different circle of friends and a lot of self reflection. I still live with the other baggage that goes with my childhood (and other trauma things) but I’m not a hateful person any more. I seek and offer love and compassion.”

8. “When wanting so badly to just be loved and safe meant a simple hug could bring me to tears, and make me never want to let go.”

9. “Being in so much emotional pain I wanted to die. I fought every day not to die — I was not living, I was barely even surviving.”

10. “I noticed I was very codependent. I apologized way too often and always felt guilty about everything I said or did. I needed validation and approval. I was living in constant fear that I would upset someone for doing something they didn’t like because my self-esteem was so low.”

11. “When I realized I couldn’t handle rejection or even constructive criticism. Everything felt personal and aimed at me, like I couldn’t ever do anything right. Any sort of rejection was something my brain used to reassure me that I had no worth, and even the smallest criticism seemed huge and felt like a personal attack. It ruined relationships and friendships. I knew I needed to start dealing with it.”

12. “I had reoccurring nightmares that I was killing my abuser multiple times over and over. That was the one huge sign that convinced me I needed to seek therapy.”

13. “After I got my first kiss and was then told it wouldn’t work out, I felt used and abandoned and reacted to that as if I’d been traumatized. After a couple of days, repressed memories from my childhood started flooding back. I remembered abuse. I knew then I needed to find a therapist who specialized in trauma.”

14. “I started hearing my father in myself when talking to my children.”

15. “[I knew I needed help] when I was no longer able to hide the fact I was self-harming and had been since I was 18… It wasn’t just emotional abuse I was being put through as child, it was mental, physical and social, too.”

16. “[I experienced] suicidal thoughts as an adult when I never got the attention or love I craved, especially after giving someone my everything in a desperate attempt to get them to love me, even though they were abusive.”

17. “My red flag was when I started acting out in school and people noticed I wasn’t acting like myself.”

18. “When it stopped me from feeling worthy of accepting love.”

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

Thinkstock photo via JZhuk.

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How a Therapist Is Using YouTube to Combat Mental Health Stigma

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Kati Morton is a licensed marriage and family therapist from California. Kati has created an online community surrounding mental health, with her YouTube channel at the center of it all. Her channel has nearly 200,000 subscribers from all over the world and is quickly growing. Her videos cover topics, such as anxietydepressioneating disorders, self-harm and much more. They have personally been a huge help to me and so many others. Kati’s focus is to decrease the stigma around mental health. The most important message she wants everyone to know is that they are not alone – even if it feels that way.

Over the past few years, there has been so much change in decreasing the stigma around mental illness through the media. But there seems to still be a long way to go. Kati has been proactive in creating accessible information for anyone, no matter where they are in the world. Technology is instrumental in decreasing the stigma and in encouraging help-seeking behaviors, especially in young people.

I honestly think the more we talk about mental health in school, work and with our loved ones…[and]…share positive mental health information online the more we combat the stigma. We often don’t realize our own stigma for mental health until we are asked to share it. Considering that and fighting against the urge to keep it a secret will lessen the stigma so much more! Also, I definitely feel that technology has moved things along much more quickly than traditional media did. It has given people a place to talk about their mental health anonymously, while reaching others around the world, and be reminded that they are not alone. — Kati Morton

One of Kati’s key messages is that everyone has their mental health, just as they do their physical health. Both need to be looked after. In an ideal world, just as we all go to the doctor every now and then for a check-up, we’ve really got to start doing the same thing for our mind.

We all have mental health, and if we catch any issues early, it doesn’t have to disrupt our life. Just like any illness or struggle, if we ignore it for a long time, it will only get worse. By talking openly about mental health, hopefully people will reach out for help sooner. — Kati Morton

Kati herself makes sure that she looks after her own mental health by seeing a therapist and thinks that it is a great resource for anyone to utilize, even if you don’t have a mental illness. We all need support and someone to talk to from time to time.

I personally see a therapist and I also have a lot of coping skills and other supports. If things are getting tough, I call my therapist, take a break, talk to my friends and family until I feel better. Self-care is so very important! — Kati Morton

The brilliant community that surrounds Kati’s videos are known as “kinions” (a combination of minions and Kati!) and are unique in the YouTube space. The community is very supportive and is a major factor in many people realizing that they are not alone. It has allowed so many to connect with others all over the world who are going through similar situations in their lives. Kati has really fostered such a loving and supportive environment around her videos which is quite different to many others on YouTube.

I think I hold my community to a higher standard than other YouTubers. Firstly, I approve all comments so that no hate or trolling happens on my channel or site. Secondly, because we always talk about how we are in it together and working together, I feel that our community takes pride in it and does their part to keep it happy and healthy. — Kati Morton

The “kinion” community and Kati’s channel is rapidly growing and reaching so many people. Her aim for the future is to continue to build on this, trying to get the message out to as many people as possible both online creating new styles of videos and in person at events and speaking at schools. Making sure everyone knows that they are not alone.

I asked Kati what advice she would give to someone who is struggling, but is unsure of whether they should talk to someone about it. I know personally for quite a while, I was a bit embarrassed and wasn’t sure if my problems warranted help. I realized that this wasn’t the case and if it’s bothering you, it’s enough to speak to someone about it — a lot of that has been to do with her videos. So I asked her, what words of encouragement would you give to someone in a similar position? She said:

Know that you are not alone, and there are many people who spend their whole lives helping those who are going through what you are going through. Also, we don’t have to wait until we feel terrible or at the end of our rope to reach out. Everyone benefits from therapy, and the sooner we start talking about it, the sooner we will feel better.

This was originally published on Story of the Mind.

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Lead photo via Kati Morton’s Facebook page

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A Goodbye Letter to My College Therapist, From Your Thursday Afternoon Client

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To my college therapist,

It’s a forever goodbye, a “see you never again,” a “have a nice life.” It’s closing a book I can never open again. After graduation, I won’t ever be able to see you.

This goodbye is difficult. For the past year and a half, we met pretty much every week I was at school. You were everything I needed in a therapist.

Sometimes, my time at the counseling services was the one hour a week I felt like I was able to, and deserved, to get help. And sometimes, I didn’t feel like I even deserved that hour. You changed the way I think and feel about therapy. I no longer feel guilty for getting help — no person is any more or less deserving of therapy.

I cannot thank you enough for caring, listening, challenging me and believing in me. You supported me in every way you knew how, and found me the support I needed if you weren’t able to provide it.

You stood by me through sessions where I was stubborn, exhibiting patience and kindness throughout our entire time together. You were an advocate for me and taught me how to become one for myself. Hands down, you helped me get through times I didn’t think I’d make it out of.

You showed me what a good therapist looks like.

Looking for a new therapist is a daunting task. It’s not something that many people talk about when discussing the changes that occur leading up to, and after, graduation. I haven’t spoken with anyone who is struggling as intensely with such a goodbye — and I talk to others about therapy a lot. The struggles I’m having are a testament to our relationship, because it’s hard to leave something or someone so good.

I’m looking for you in every therapist I call. I’m scared. I’m afraid to leave you. I’m easily discouraged as I talk and meet with other therapists. My expectations of therapists are high, and frankly, the others I’ve come across just don’t cut it. However, it’s also because of you that I know I am capable of forming a relationship like the one I have with you, with another therapist. So, thank you.

I will miss you. Not only are you a good therapist — you are a good person. I’m thankful to have met you.

Thank you for renewing my faith in therapy, thanks for working with me through some dark times, and thanks for being you.

Love,

Your Thursday afternoon client

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Thinkstock photo via Kosamtu

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