The Benefits of Therapy
I realized while reading my initial article on finding a therapist that I may have missed a few important talking points. We live in a time where medication and physical health are common topics of conversation. As we get older, we get more and more comfortable talking about our aches and pains and what we do or take to make them better.
Talking about mental health can be awkward
When I was a kid, I remember the Marlboro Man and Johnny Walker as the advertising icons. Now, it is a new wonder drug and six weeks later a lawyer who will represent you if you have had a reaction to the aforementioned wonder drug. If you tell someone you are taking this or that for a physical ailment, the conversation never falters. However, mention mental health or mental health drugs and you may find yourself in a fully awkward and cringe-raising place.
Bringing mental health into the spotlight
I will tell anyone reading this or discussing this article that I am on a crusade to bring mental health out of the shame and denial closet into the glorious sunlight of healthy days. I am 14 years beyond my bladder cancer diagnosis and only 3 years or so into therapy. If I told anyone I waited 11 years before I sought treatment for my cancer, they would question my intelligence. Why are we so ashamed or reticent to say our minds need as much healthcare as our bodies?
Prioritize your health
This is my only stage with which to cry out, “Speak up and find whatever help you need!” Find a way to move past any embarrassment or fears you have about saying you need to talk to a professional. This is your health, not physical health or mental health, as if they were two separate things. This is your health. Yours and yours alone. There is no time for being timid.
You can even meet with a therapist virtually
As I write this, we are under some COVID-19 restrictions. I have met with my therapist via the internet and a webcam for the last couple of months. If you are concerned about going to an office, this may be a great opportunity for you. Telephone medicine is growing by leaps and bounds; if you need to, you may even be able to have therapy appointments without “seeing” someone.
Acknowledging the stigma
Let me stress that I am in no way discounting the stigma associated with seeking therapy or physiological help. What I am saying is this: You striving towards your personal best, whatever that looks like for you, is incredibly important.
Taking steps to find your best self
Please take some time today to ask yourself if you are where you want to be mentally/physically. If the answer is anything but a joyous “YES,” take some time and think about what stands between you and your best self. My next therapy session will mark 1 year that “John” and I have talked. Every 2 weeks for an hour, I talk and he nods and takes lots and lots of notes. Every session he will ask questions and give feedback, and at the end of every session, I will feel drained.
My life has been a long and winding road. Cancer is just one of the many challenges I have been allowed to navigate. Good therapy is a chance to reset my compass and find my way back to a smoother road.
Best wishes to all
How long did it take to get diagnosed after your first symptom(s) appeared?