This post was inspired by the novel The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger. Young lawyer Sophie unwillingly takes her first divorce case with an entertaining and volatile client in this novel told mainly through letters and legal missives. Join From Left to Write on March 18th as we discuss The Divorce Papers. As a member, I received a copy of this book for review purposes.
So despite the fact that I’m a criminology major, I’m not particularly interested in law. Is that weird? Anyways, despite that, I still found this book to be a really good read. Towards the end of the novel when the divorce is being resolved, the daughter of the couple in this case undergoes a psychiatric evaluation. Her parents and grandfather are also included in interviews. During the interview with the father, he finishes the assessment by declaring the whole process a waste of time and a huge intrusion on his life.
So this got me thinking about therapy, and specifically, how there’s a lot of stigma surrounding it. When I was in high school and first started struggling with disordered eating, depression, and anxiety, I was dead-set against getting any sort of therapy or professional help. I had the attitude that I could deal with these things on my own.
Of course, I was, completely, 100% wrong. Things continued to get worse over the years, until I found myself battling anorexia. Even when I first admitted I had a problem, and was willing to talk to a dietitian about creating a meal plan, I still wouldn’t sit down and talk to anyone about the battles raging on in my head.
It wasn’t until several months into recovery that I finally agreed to seek help for my disorder. I started seeing a psychotherapist on a weekly basis who specialized in eating disorders and women’s health, and started attending a recovery support group through Hope’s Garden. Once I was placed in these situations and was given a chance to sit back and talk about what I had been through and what was going on in my head, was I really able to work through my issues. In my personal therapy sessions I was able to weed through my history and my fears with losing my eating disorder, and learn strategies for recovery. In the group sessions, I was able to relate to and get support from people (women and men) who were going through or who had gone through similar events, and learn what worked best for them in recovery.
So basically, for me, therapy was the best thing I had ever done for myself. Without it I don’t think that recovery would have happened as it did for me. I learned about myself, determined my triggers, and learned how to live a life fully recovered from anorexia. But when I was attending therapy sessions, I felt awkward telling people that. I didn’t want to be looked at as weak, which seems to be a bit of a stigma or a stereotype with people that attend therapy.
But honestly? I don’t think you need to have a diagnosible mental issue or problem with other people (i.e. marital issues) to benefit from therapy. You don’t even have to understand or know why you’re feeling bad. A therapy session gives you the chance to sit down and discuss whatever’s going on in your life to an impartial listener, without judgement. They’re legally obligated to maintain confidentially (of course, with a few exceptions) so it’s easy to discuss things with them that you don’t feel comfortable discussing or working through with family or friends. Therapists and psychiatrists/psychologists are trained professionals and can offer insight and help you work through whatever’s happening in your life, or has happened in your past. Whether you’re working through marital or family issues, anxiety, a sad time in your life, grief, or just want someone to talk to about your hopes and fears for the future, therapy is a good place to go.
So no, you don’t have to have a ‘serious’ issue to get therapy. You aren’t ‘weak’ or ‘unable to fix your own problems’ if you choose to attend. In the end, isn’t taking action to deal with whatever you’re working through stronger than passively staying stuck? Therapy is a seriously great way to help you understand both yourself and external situations, and I think it’s something that everyone should consider at some point or another.
<— Have you ever had a therapy session?
<— Do you notice a stigma against people who go to therapy?
<— What are your thoughts on therapy in general? Worthwhile?
And P.S….Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Be safe today, k?
P.P.S. The new winner for the North Coast Naturals Giveaway is Jamie R, who has been emailed!