If you still see someone frowning at you if you mention “I have a therapy appointment tomorrow”, don’t be surprised. Even if it is the 21st century and we have all these special days to commemorate mental health awareness, we still have a society that will consider this as a taboo.
It was the year 2018 and I had just got married. My marriage is a cross-cultural one that had my family initially doubting my life choices. Not only that, I married my husband seven months after we started dating. I am sure my friends and family wanted to say these phrases at some time “Blah, Blah, Blah, I told you so”. But nevertheless, we did get married and were moving to a house towards a little countryside of Oregon.
So many things in my life were changing and I knew I wasn’t handling it that well. The physical move was exhausting. Although all these decisions about getting married and moving to a country house were my choice too, yet when it actually happened I kept feeling that I am leaving behind everything that was known to me.
It was hard. And my husband was patient with all the mental ups and downs I was going through, but he suggested I go see a therapist. I was furious. I told him the exact same words “Do you think I am crazy?”
I am from India. I belonged to a world where you go see a mental health professional if you suffered some life trauma incident: like sexual abuse, domestic violence, or child abuse. In other words, you had a major life incident, completely unordinary or you are a nutcase.
It is funny, right? Logically it should be as simple as going to a physician for physical health or a dentist for dental health. But the taboo exists. I realized it myself when my husband explained it to me and it all made sense. Going to a therapist and taking care of my mental health is one of the best self-care choices I have ever made in my life.
Why do people shy away from addressing mental health issues?
The primary reason people shy away from addressing mental health issues is that would see them as weak or vulnerable. No one wants to be seen as a weak individual.
That makes you unfit for this high stress, highly competitive world.
For women, it goes one notch higher. The reason for that would be, we are struggling daily to be taken seriously and to be considered equal. We care even more about how the world sees us. In that situation going to a therapist would throw all that out of the window. Can we afford to do that?
The article by Belatina very well described why women are even more likely to consider mental health as a taboo. The roots are deep within years of patriarchal conditioning and also popular literature deeming women as the “Madwoman in the Attic” portrayal.
All these instances just highlight the problem statement even more “How can we help remove this taboo?”
Why is it the right decision to see a therapist?
If you take my example then I was going through a lot of changes in my life at once. Similarly, there are other reasons you might be stressed out in your life currently. If you work in a really high stressed job you will frequently feel like taking a mental health day when you would want to unwind from your work.
A therapist literally goes to school to get trained in advising you on coping skills that would be helpful for your own unique situations.
Below are some reasons why you should kick out the taboo on mental health and go see a therapist you deem fit:
1. You care about your mental health and want to take care of yourself
There is no bigger reason than the fact that you love yourself and believe in living a healthy life both physically and mentally. It is totally worth it to invest in yourself to go see a therapist who can absolutely help you get fit mentally.
2. A therapist can get you out of your own head
Like I mentioned they go to school to get trained in this profession, they can absolutely get you out of your head, while you are obsessing on a certain situation and going around in circles.
3. Your therapist has a completely unbiased opinion on your life
Sure your friends and family are your major outlet or confidante. But they are still attached to you and would see the situation through your eyes. Your therapist has a completely neutral perspective and would be absolutely viewing your situation in an unbiased way.
4. Coping mechanisms
Therapy is not a “one size fits all” process. Your coping mechanism with a certain situation might be different from your friend. You and your therapist can discover what would be your unique coping skills in the crisis that you are facing.
In conclusion, I would like to say that if you are still hesitating with the anxiety issue you have or severe anger issues that you struggle with and thinking “How can a person I do not know, never been friends with, help me?”
It is because he is not your friend and unknown to you would be helpful to you to see your condition unbiasedly. If you take the step to take care of your mental health, we will make a little bit of progress towards removing the mental health taboo. I would highly encourage you to do that for your own wellbeing as well as helping to remove this taboo on mental health.