Most days you just power through your feelings: the sadness, the anger, the confusion about where your life is headed. You just give yourself a little more time on the couch on the weekends and contain any crying to the shower. Instead of ignoring the emotional changes you’re experiencing, it might be time to admit you need help. It might be that you need therapy.
Going to therapy is not necessarily an easy decision. If you were raised in a family where you didn’t talk about your problems or for black women, in a culture where prayer was the help you were supposed to seek, then taking that step to get professional help might not come naturally.
You’re finding ways to cope emotionally so far, but how long can that last? Don’t wait until you dig an even deeper emotional hole before you go see someone. If these four ways sound like where you are in your life, consider whether therapy might help.
Your friends can’t take it anymore.
On last season of HBO’s Insecure, Molly told her best friend Issa about a mutual friend who was seeing a therapist. Molly dismissed it, but Issa had another way of thinking about it: “Maybe talking through some shit with someone isn’t the worst idea.”
But that’s what your friends are for, right? Well…yes, we should all have at least one good friend to talk to, and maybe you have a whole crew of people with whom you can regularly share your frustrations. Great! Except, at some point, if your every interaction with your friend is you unloading about the same issues, consider whether that’s actually helping resolve the issue for you. Also think about what effect that’s having on your friend and your friendship. Instead, we could let friends be friends and therapists be therapists.
You need some perspective.
When I started therapy, a friend asked me how it was different than talking to a girlfriend and I told her my therapist didn’t have any skin in the game. Your friend who has always hated your partner can’t really give you the unbiased perspective to determine if you should stay with in the relationship. You also might not be able to identify why it is that you aren’t moving forward in your career the way you think you should. Or why it is that you and your father can’t manage to talk without yelling at each other.
A good therapist will be able to examine your patterns and help you find ways to break them. A good therapist should also be willing to hold you accountable for what role you’ve played in the direction your life has taken while helping you figure out what you can do to change that direction.
You’re getting in your own way.
Have you felt in the last few years that you keep getting close to your dreams, but always falling just a little short? Have you started to think that it hasn’t been just circumstances, but that you might be your own worst enemy?
Sometimes things just don’t work out in life, maybe that relationship wasn’t for you or being an entrepreneur wasn’t the lifestyle you really wanted. If instead, you did really want to be with that guy and you did really want that business to take off, it could be that your own patterns stopped you from moving forward. A therapist can help you move past those obstacles. Rachel Lindsay, this year’s Bachelorette, said that she went to therapy after a bad break-up, realizing that she might be getting in her own way. How might you be stopping yourself from being the best version of you?
You aren’t in control.
Remember what I said about containing your crying to the shower? I finally went and found a therapist when I could no longer do that. I would be on public transportation or walking down the street and I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from crying. I also had started to look like the people in those “depression hurts” commercial. Hoodie again today? Yes, I think I will.
I’d had a rough break-up, moved to a new city, hadn’t yet made any friends, couldn’t find a job, and was questioning what the hell I was doing with my life. It was a perfect storm of emotional turmoil and all the coping mechanisms were failing. If you’re having a similar break down, crying or anger that you can’t reel in. Or if you’re keeping your distance from family and friends because you wouldn’t be able hide your emotions from them, stop trying to control what you feel and instead go talk to someone about it.
Going to therapy might feel like an admission that you aren’t as strong as you thought, but going to therapy is actually admitting that you are strong. Not everyone can admit when they need help.
There are lots of different kinds of therapy (including more spiritually-based therapists, art therapy, and other alternatives to therapy) and if you have insurance, the federal government under Obama mandated mental health coverage (Thanks, Obama! And also come back!).
And if the idea of talking for 50 minutes just doesn’t feel like you, there are other ways to get help: consider Landmark or natural healing methods. Don’t let your past hold you back from who you could be.
Check out these resources to find a therapist:
Also check out: