Updated: May 5
Strong Women Deserve Therapy Too
“She did not make it” - After hearing those five words leave my godfather’s mouth, I felt nothing. I just learned that my godmother died, and I could not bring myself to cry.
I exchanged many calls with loved ones after learning the news; each time, I told myself I had to be stronger and more comforting for the person on the other end of the phone.
It is common to experience emotional numbness during times of grief, but I recognized my inability to show emotion during this tragic event as a direct result of me taking on a strong Black women persona at work and in my personal life. This realization was the start of my therapy journey.
Read on to learn more about my experience balancing vulnerability and strength through therapy. Therapy may be just what your mental health routine deserves!
What Caused Me To Pursue Therapy?
Grief was just an excuse to go. I was familiar with grief counseling as an adult, and it was an easy transition into therapy.
But the truth is I wanted to pursue therapy before losing my godmother.
Three circumstances fueled my pursuit for a therapist the most:
My support system needed a substitute: I have an amazing older sister who I can talk to about anything and a licensed counselor for a best friend. However, it became a point when I was falling apart, and many of my conversations with them were encapsulated with complaints and negative questions and feelings. I did not want my unfavorable experiences or feelings to be all that we talked about or negatively impact their lives.
My problems needed a fresh perspective: There were things about myself - like my inability to cry - that I wanted to explore in different ways and receive different perspectives. My therapist, as an unbiased and trained professional, provided that.
I deserved therapy - It may sound vain and egotistical, but sound mental health was owed to me. I deserved a break, time to breathe, and someone to be in my corner. Therapy was not something I needed; it was something I deserved.
I Started Therapy in March 2018 and I am Happy, Why Do I Still Go?
Returning to DC was one of the best decisions I ever made. I have a wonderful job and boss, I am in a nurturing romantic relationship, and I am closer to my family and best friends.
However, one of the first things I did when returning to DC was find a therapist. Here's why:
I learned so much about myself from my therapist in NY – I wanted to continue to explore the many layers of my identity.
I wanted to be proactive about my mental health. Life can change in an instant. Similar to a primary care physician, having a therapist allows me to have that go-to person when I am feeling down.
I enjoy having the space and expert advice of an unbiased person who has my best interest in mind.
Are You Saying I Should Try Therapy?
My intention is to talk about the importance of getting mental health support, whether through therapy or an alternative method.
Although every person deals with stress and can develop mental health issues, African Americans are 20 percent more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population.
Therapy has completely transformed my mental well-being, life, relationships, and attitudes for the better.
Before therapy, I experience anxiety (a lot), I practiced unhealthy coping methods, and I was awful at setting healthy boundaries with my family, friends, and coworkers. With the help of my therapist, I developed healthy ways to manage my anxiety, I set healthier boundaries with my loved ones, and I practice better-coping habits. My improved mental health has allowed me to be more present with my loved ones and at work, confidently pursue my passions, and be a better advocate for myself and needs.
Seeing a therapist is a healthy and productive way of prioritizing mental health care and working through any life issue – it does not always mean you have a mental illness.
Take the first step to prioritize your mental health or start therapy, by asking:
What are my mental health goals?
How am I supporting my mental health goals?
How am I fostering a healthy mental wellbeing?
What support do I need to commit to building a healthy mental wellbeing?
Prioritizing your mental health can be daunting…but you deserve it! Do not wait until things are falling a part to seek help or to take action.