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Why I'm Not Embarrassed to Go to Therapy

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One of my co-workers lives in the building that houses my therapist’s office. I’ve run into him there a couple of times, saying a quick hello on my way in or out.

He came up to me at work recently and asked if I lived in the building. When I told him no, my therapist’s office was there, he was instantly embarrassed.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

I was sorry, too — that our country takes such a dim view of mental health that the fact that I see a therapist seems like it should be shrouded in secrecy. I laughed and told him I didn’t mind at all.

I’m not embarrassed to say life has thrown things at me that I’ve had no idea how to handle. As my therapist once said, “We don’t know what we don’t know.”

The past decade found me dealing with things that left me absolutely reeling: my brother’s suicide in 2007, my mom’s painfully sudden death from lung cancer three years later, the strain all of it put on my marriage.

In therapy, I can reap the benefits of hearing how other people have handled similar situations. Sometimes, the comfort is not in finding solutions, but just in talking about how I feel. When I joined a group for women who had lost a parent and one talked about how she had started and ended every day on the phone with her mom, it was a powerful “Wow, someone gets it” moment for me. I’ll forever miss my daily phone calls with my mom, but I gained friends from that group who are still a valued part of my life.

One time, my therapist was running late for our session and left me a note taped to his door. It was addressed “To my 2 o’clock appointment.”

I told him I wouldn’t have cared if he used my real name.

Even if my co-worker had happened to see it.

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Thinkstock image by KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Originally published: May 15, 2017
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