You fall and break your leg so what do you do? You go to the Hospital of course, or you have the flu, you go to the Doctors right? With this logic in mind we need to really be honest here and say if you are struggling with Mental Health, why would you NOT go to a Doctor and Therapist?
This strange stigma around Psychology or Psychiatry is something that baffles me on a daily basis. I simply do not understand why you would seek help for physical ailments, yet not do the same for your mental wellbeing. Particularly with Men, there is this macho resistance still prevalent in our society. It is incredulous that we send the message that it makes you seem "weak" if you seek help for your mental health.
That stigma is so strong, that I have lost jobs over the fact that my employer knew I was seeing a Psychiatrist. So this post will focus on the incredible benefits of Therapy and why it is crucial to anyone's recovery from Mental Illness or even just a tough time in our lives.
When I first saw a Doctor at age 20 I was extremely depressed and had no idea what was happening or why I couldn't control how bad I was feeling. I remember crying and crying in the surgery and was promptly prescribed Zoloft and that was it, no mention of talking to someone about how I was feeling. So I left that appointment with two misconceptions; 1 that this pill was just going to magically fix how I felt and 2, no knowledge at all about the effects of starting antidepressants. I started to feel worse, but how? This Doctor had given me medication yet I was feeling worse and worse and that was the first time I was very much bombarded by suicidal thoughts.
It was terrifying, I didn't know what to do but thankfully had a very dear friend who had been on antidepressants herself and was a huge support to me in understanding what was happening. The key point though was missing, what had led me to feel like the world had been ripped from under me? This was the start of an 18-year battle. Every. Single. Day.
My Mental Health went up and down during the next few years and all that would happen is a doctor would either change the dose or change the antidepressants and not once that whole time was I encouraged to go to therapy. I smoked a lot of pot through that time, whether in hindsight it was a good or bad thing it did keep things from escalating too much. But I struggled, every day became harder and harder. I still didn't even really understand what depression and anxiety even were.
My first Hospital admission was while I was living in Scotland and things got more serious with my conditions. I can look back now of all the enormous warning signs of Borderline Personality Disorder traits and behaviours. Once again things became unbearable and I took an overdose and went to the Hospital. Things got taken more seriously then, I had a small team of people who would come to the house each day to check on me and was started on more and more medication. Finally, I was referred to a psychologist who was near the end of her studies which is how I was able to get in to see someone.
Once again I had no idea what was going on, or how therapy even was meant to work. It was CBT therapy but I didn't have any skills whatsoever and because I really liked the young girl and wanted her to feel like she was doing a good job, I just adjusted my answers so it appeared I was making progress. This need to please people even extended to my therapist and as fas as I was concerned I just didn't want her to feel like she wasn't achieving results with me. It was around this time I started really getting serious about researching Mental Health and my two best friends at the time were enormous support. I was struggling too much in Scotland that I knew it was time to make the decision to come home. I foolishly thought moving back to Australia and to Sydney with my friend was the answer I was looking for, but really I was just moving the problem from place to place. At least this time I would be closer to my Mum and Sister.
I was lucky enough to get a pretty good job in the city and prepared to start my new life. For a time things when along pretty smoothly, I was socialising more than I had in years. I was enjoying work and achieving some pretty awesome results and things were looking up. In my world though what goes up most definitely comes down again and hard.
That is when I started proper Psychodynamic Psychotherapy with an amazing Doctor. The key to therapy being successful is having a connection with your therapist. It can become the most intimate relationship in your life, so you have to ensure you connect with the person as much as they need to connect with you. I was lucky enough to find this and it saved my life. My Doctor was in no rush to diagnose me with anything, instead, we worked together for a long time before we would establish my full diagnoses. When I first started I presented as highly anxious and hyperaroused and it took at least a year to break through that barrier which is obviously very different for everyone. Having BPD means I am extremely affected by the mere thought of rejection, so if my Doctor said something I didn't agree with, I was scared to say anything because I was so worried he would tell me to go away.
Thankfully we persevered through the years and at one point I was having therapy twice a week. For someone with my conditions, it is super important to have the same person looking after the medication side of things as well as the therapeutic aspect. I learned I could get angry and disagree with him without the worry that he would reject me and so it did become the most intimate relationship in my life.
Given all of this, it still baffles me that so many people are against going to speak to someone. It is part of the Mental Health epidemic of our time. People that could have sought help don't and the results can be catastrophic. So think back to my original statement, if you had a broken leg or arm you would seek the right treatment for it to heal.
Your mind is no different. Take care of it, give it the importance it deserves and walk a path to a happier and healthier self.