During my junior year, I routinely saw a therapist. No, it wasn’t because I was trying to fake ADD symptoms to get Adderall or anxiety to get Xanax. In fact, I saw a psychologist, which for those of you unaware, are not even able to prescribe drugs to their patients. I saw a therapist and it was the best thing I’ve ever done for my mental health.
So often, going to see someone is viewed as taboo, as something only ‘crazy’ people do. It’s billed as something to be embarrassed of or keep hush-hush, lest anyone think you have mental problems. Contrary to popular belief, I am and was not crazy, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t benefit from a therapist. You see, I was in a weird headspace most of sophomore year. The summer after freshman year, a very close relative of mine committed suicide. It was horrible and tragic and to say that I didn’t cope well would be an understatement.
I spent the majority of my sophomore year acting out. I didn’t really do anything new or inventive, just the classics: partying hard, fucking around, abusing drugs, skipping class. I was as clichéd as it gets. As you can imagine, my grades sucked (for me) that year. They didn’t dip bad enough to alert my parents that something was wrong, but they fell just enough for them to tell me that I had one semester to get it together or else I was coming home. Going into junior year, which coincidentally was also my hardest year in major, I was feeling the pressure.
Here I was, still unable to deal with loss of my relative and feeling overwhelmed about what was sure to be the most difficult semester of my collegiate career. Failing was not option, but yet, I couldn’t figure out how to get it together. I spent the first two or three weeks down the same destructive path as the previous year until my one of my best friends finally intervened. She knew some of what was going on and suggested I see someone. At first, I balked at the idea. I’ve never been particularly good at asking for help, in a fucked up way I felt like it would make me look weak. But she pushed. She told me about how she started seeing someone her sophomore year and how much it helped.
I thought about it a little more. I mean, this was a girl who had it all together, a girl I really looked up to. If she saw a therapist, could it really be so bad? She’s not weak. In fact, she’s quite the opposite. She told me she would go with me to my first appointment and wait for me, and if I didn’t like it, I didn’t have to go back. I relented, and as it turns out, that one was of the best decisions I have ever made. Even after my first appointment, I was starting to feel better. I had all these different emotions swirling around and this was the first time in over a year I was actually dealing with them and confronting them. Going to see a therapist was the opposite of weak, it was empowering.
I don’t know if seeing a therapist was the sole reason for my success, but that semester, my hardest semester, I made the best grades I ever had. I was happier and more at peace with myself. Instead of destructive partying, when I was going out, I was having fun. Most importantly, I was healthier, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
I can never thank my friend enough for pushing me to see a therapist. The stigma associated with seeking help was so crippling that I almost didn’t, but that’s where the problem lies. Seeing a therapist is not a dirty thing meant to be avoided at all costs. It’s helpful, healthy, and much more prevalent than some of us may think. It’s important that we all throw away outdated stereotypes of what it means to see someone because perpetuating these stigmas is only hurting ourselves.
A year and a half later, I can confidently say that seeing a therapist was one of the best things I’ve ever done..
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