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Column: You don’t have be ashamed to ask for help

Photo by Jenna Zeise

I go to therapy every week and oftentimes, it’s something I look forward to.

Whenever someone asks, I’m more than happy to talk about all aspects of my experience, even the not-so-great parts. However, it hasn’t always been that way. It took me years to get over my internalized stigma about asking for help. Looking back on my life, 16-year-old me asking my mom about going to therapy was probably one of the hardest things that I’ve ever done.

But without risk, there is no reward, and the only thing I regret is not doing it sooner.

As I’m sure many people have experienced, the idea of therapy is still not fully understood or accepted by everyone. Parents see their children going to therapy as a sign of parental failure. Friends and family assume that if you’re going to therapy, something must be seriously wrong with you. For so long, I was convinced that by admitting I needed help meant that I had failed.

While it can be a tool used for cases of different severities, nothing has to be “wrong” with you to go to therapy. It took me a while to believe it, but going to therapy doesn’t make you any less intelligent, independent or capable. The human experience is so emotionally complex that it’s nearly impossible to keep it internalized. We’re not meant to go through our lives alone. I’m a firm believer that even the strongest and happiest people can benefit from having someone to talk to.

As a form of self-care, I frequently find myself using my therapy sessions to speak candidly in front of someone without feeling like I’m burdening a friend or oversharing. You have no idea how much the small frustrations in life build up until you have an outlet to let them go.

Whether you are experiencing a major life change or taking a class that’s really frustrating, both situations are completely valid and worthy of being supported. Emotions should never be a competition.

I understand what it’s like to be apprehensive about meeting with a therapist for the first time. It took me a while to feel comfortable opening up and I even had to change therapists a few times in order to find the right fit.

I won’t pretend that getting where I am today was the easiest thing to do. Before I came to Bradley and counseling was covered under health fees, I spent so much time trying to find an affordable option. Therapy is rarely covered under insurance (which is a whole other conversation, but I digress) and getting a referral to a therapist led to a level of frustration that I didn’t know I could achieve.

In a perfect world, everyone would have complete access to the help they need. Our society is slowly coming around to the idea, but in the meantime, there is no “right” way to approach therapy. Once a month, once a week, in person or online, the options are becoming more and more accessible and obtainable. 

Whether you consider therapy today or in a few years, I implore you to keep an open mind and give it a fighting chance. Achieving an existence that you’re happy with is a constantly changing endeavor and the right support system can make all the difference.

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