At least I'm Me - Guest Blogger Alyssa Goodyear
“Hey, I’m not doing so well with my mental health right now. Can you get me some help please?”
It sounds simple right? Asking for help can’t be that hard can it? But in reality, we all know it’s not. In fact, it takes a lot of us years to be able to admit to someone that we are struggling. It isn’t like asking to be taken to the doctor if you think you broke your leg or asking to be taken to the optometrist to get your eyes checked. It should be, but we all know it’s not.
I see a therapist. There, I said it.
I must be crazy or mentally insane if I’m seeing a therapist, right? Um, last time I checked, that’s not how it works. Somehow though, our society seems to perceive it that way, causing this huge stigma to be around talking about mental illnesses. However, it shouldn’t be that way and it doesn’t have to be. Anyone can benefit from talking to someone whether they have a diagnosable illness or not. We all have our problems and we shouldn’t have to pretend that our lives are this perfect and happy place all the time. Also, you’d be surprised the amount of people who have mental illnesses. Honestly, most of them, you would never know that they are struggling unless they told you. It doesn’t mean they’re “crazy” or “insane” at all.
I always hid my problems ever since I was a little kid. The ones I couldn’t hide ended up being discovered by teachers at school. I would beg them not to tell anyone about it, especially my parents. I felt so alone. I would cry every night not knowing why I was feeling so bad and thinking I was going crazy. I had a teacher and a friend who I could talk to about it, but I always felt so bad for bothering them about it that I would feel even worse from guilt. One day, though, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I completely broke. My teacher ended up calling my parents and telling them that I would benefit from therapy.
What? Why would she say that? I was freaking out about the idea of going to therapy. I’m not crazy, am I? However, once the day came, I decided I’d give it a try. Who knows, maybe it will help?
Spoiler alert—it did. A lot.
I’m not going to lie, it was hard at first. I wasn’t used to talking about things I was struggling with. I couldn’t even say the word “anxiety” out loud for the longest time. But honestly, it was so nice to just vent everything out to someone without judgement. She would help me work through everything and assure me that it’s a real thing that other people go through as well. That I’m not crazy and alone in this world. That I deserve to feel relief from these emotions and that it CAN get better. I didn’t have to keep these heavy secrets with me anymore. Even if it took me some time to feel comfortable enough to share some things, I could finally lift some of the weight off my chest. Someone knew the pain that I was feeling every day.
As time went on, I began to learn strategies in therapy to face my fears and to challenge my thoughts. Guess what? Things started getting better! Okay, so no I didn’t automatically eliminate my mental illnesses and no I wasn’t always improving. I did have times where I began to sink into old habits again, but that’s totally okay because it’s normal and I would always come out stronger for it. Some things I know I’ll struggle with for the rest of my life, but now I know how to better manage it and to not let it interfere with the quality of my life as much. And most importantly, in my opinion, is that I don’t feel like I’m such a terrible, crazy person who is the only one in the world going through all of these struggles. I would hide everything as best as I could for many years because I felt so much shame in who I was. However, I became to understand from therapy—and even group therapy—that there are so many other people out there going through the same or similar things that can relate and that I shouldn’t be ashamed of who I am because my problems don’t define me :)
Anyway, there were times when I was at my absolute low and didn’t know what to do before I got help. I would pray to God to give me a reason to stay. He always did. I would pray every night that for Him to alleviate my distress and lead me to the help I so desperately needed. Although there were times when I doubted Him, He eventually gave me relief. I could see how how was showing Himself in my life. One of my favorite Bible verses that goes along with this is Isaiah 41:10, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
I may not be fully recovered now and I may never be, but God gave me that relief. I’m back to being more of myself after going to therapy and I’ve learned ways to cope with and handle tough situations that I will face in my life to come. No, I may not be perfect, but at least I’m me :)