Maybe you're one of the many people who have gotten the message over the years, "going to therapy means you're weak or broken or crazy." This isn't as prevalent a message as it was 20 years ago, or even 5 years ago, but it's still out there and still wrong and still stopping people who need it from getting good mental health care. Let me share a few of the reasons that going to therapy doesn't mean you're weak or broken, but actually means you're strong and self-aware and brave and trying your best to take care of yourself in a sometimes overwhelming world.
We deal with unprecedented levels of stress today in a world that moves much faster than it did even 10 years ago. Daily life presents more tasks, obstacles, and stressors than we could have imagined prior to cell phones, social media, and the explosive growth of technology and interconnectedness. At the same time, we've started to lose many of the community ties that have anchored us in the past and given us a support network we can turn to in times of difficulty.
Our brains weren't built for such a hectic, high-tech world, and they weren't built to live in such isolation. It's no wonder that many people find themselves feeling overwhelmed and looking for support as they sort out how to cope with these things.
Additionally, we are learning more and more about environmental factors that may be contributing to rising rates of anxiety, depression, and more. Cutting edge research is looking at how, for example, the microflora (bacteria) in our guts help to regulate mood and how many of us in industrialized countries with high levels of sanitation lack the diversity of microflora needed for this crucial part of maintaining mood stability.
Blue light from computer and smartphone screens interferes with circadian rhythms, interrupting natural sleep rhythms and making us more susceptible to anxiety and depression. Reliance on caffeine allows us to continue functioning on too little sleep while also aggravating the nervous system and increasing anxiety. Long hours at sedentary jobs make it more difficult for many of us to get enough physical activity, depriving us of all the mental and emotional benefits of being active.
In short, we live in a world that makes it more difficult than ever for us to stay healthy in body and mind, and this is reflected in a growing interest in counseling.
Therapy is a way to hone your strength and use it more effectively. Asking for help takes courage. Shining a light into your own psyche and examining the ways you can take responsibility for creating a better life for yourself is an act of strength and bravery. I am constantly in awe of the resilience, courage, and determination I see in my office every day. Choosing to go to therapy may just be one of the bravest things you can do.