Two years ago, was the first time I confided in a friend of going to therapy on a week to week basis. They simply responded with a smile that therapy f***in’ rules and that they go weekly as well. We became best friends over the course of time, especially dawning on the realization of not being alone when it comes to seeking help.
But at the time, I was also too embarrassed to talk about the reality of why I was really going to therapy—treatment for my history with anxiety, depression, trauma, and unhealthy ways I used to cope with it throughout my childhood and into my early twenties. I was afraid of being honest and open to discussing my self-care work due to the fear of reliving certain painful moments of my life, or even holding myself back from moving forward in life.
Yet, that is where I am also responsible for my life and figuring out a way of dealing with both my mental health and how I cope with it. It is something I am still learning about, after burning out on an emotional and physical level just a few days ago. Asking for help, no matter how many times I have been to therapy, is never easy. And that is okay because sometimes, hitting a low point, rock bottom as I tend to see it, is just a way of our bodies reminding us to rest, as well as give ourselves some credit.
Asking for help is NEVER a sign of weakness, and that is something I continue to learn, after slipping back into older habits of coping within the past few weeks of not taking care of myself. Yet, it is also a HUGE step in identifying that you are not okay, and that is okay to not be okay.
The first sign of recognizing my own avoidance with pain, and the reality of not feeling well mentally, were the thoughts of feeling like a failure.
This was after landing multiple jobs in the entertainment industry, as well as winning awards for the scripts and films I worked on. Regardless of the number of invites I got to networking events, award ceremonies, or hearing from industry people how they like my films and want to work with me, I still felt incomplete. I felt that I was not enough, and only had to work harder. It led to sadness and triggered a lot of personal situations that I had also yet to fully deal with it. My anxiety came back, and it increased my depression.
Yet, I kept avoiding my pain, hiding it from my friends and family, until I sought some level of comfort after reaching out to the mental health crisis line a few days ago. I made these reach outs four times in one week.
It was the first time I ever reached out to a mental health crisis line. I was assigned a counselor over the phone. They provided me with some advice on what to do next, never pressuring but encouraging me to go back to therapy. So, the idea of going back to therapy on a week to week basis was something I started to think about.
But it was not until I spoke with the fourth crisis line counselor when I recognized my thoughts of hopelessness was consistent and not going away, no matter how much I wanted it to.
The fourth crisis line counselor then asked me if I felt suicidal or had thoughts of self-harming in the recent weeks to months. It was a moment of truth, and I answered yes to both.
That was the moment I recognized of older coping mechanisms resurfacing for me as well, and I immediately reached out to my therapist and made an appointment to see her.
I saw her last week.
Life will always be a roller-coaster with its many ups and many downs, and those moments of pain and frustrations can often be a bit more difficult for someone to cope with, and just “move on from.”
The reality of anxiety and depression resurfacing for a majority of people in their life, including myself, is that older coping mechanisms and ways of thinking can get triggered when life itself becomes too much to handle. Often, it will make it harder to stop whatever we are doing and ask for help.
That is also part of healing, something I continue to learn about since stepping foot into my therapist’s office five years ago, is acceptance when it is a time to slow down and to self-care. That means adjusting my own schedule, no matter how busy I am, to go see my therapist or to simply tell myself that it is okay to take a break, and just breathe.
Treatment has always been a moment of clarity or an endless battle with myself, and it has or never will be fun. It sucks.
But that is also where looking at my own surroundings will play into how I am feeling—Are the people in my life supportive or unsupportive of my well-being? Am I feeling content with where I am at in life?
The answer will always lie within myself, and I am finally understanding that is where taking control of my life comes into play because it is okay to answer, “yes,” to feeling the lack of support or unhappy in life. Like many others who have a history with anxiety, depression, self-harming, and suicidal thoughts, I also must remind myself that it is important to reach out to someone when life gets harder to deal with, whether that be a loved one or someone who specializes in treatment, such as a therapist. It is not or ever will be easy to help myself, but at the end of the day, I am most recently piecing together what it truly means whenever I see that slogan or hear how no one is ever alone when it comes to the fear, uneasiness and often, loss of hope due to a mental health disorder and the socalled setbacks when it comes to asking for help.
This past week has been better than last, where I am seeing more friends and talking it out with them on what has been on my mind. It is also one of the very few times where I am taking my therapist’s advice—guilty of still not listening—of not working on top of other work, aka, enjoying my weekends and using them as days off to rest in the time being. And, it is very difficult to continue with this new treatment of self-caring and coping with my mental health, because it is the first time in life where I am surrendering to what I THINK is best for me and listening to what I truly need to heal.
Most recently, after telling a close friend of mine on going back to therapy, she texted me a beautiful message that I think can help many people who are feeling ashamed or are being shamed for seeking treatment for their mental health and, overall, well-being: “Therapy IS good. It’s a sign of acknowledging and accepting that something in you deserves a shift of some kind. It’s a way of facilitating growth and self-progress.”
This upcoming week will mark my second therapy session, and to be honest, I am both nervous, scared, and excited to learn how to manage and focusing and taking care of myself for the first time in months. Now, I am starting to feel readier each day.