For decades, mental health, depression, and therapist have been words that are equivalent to cuss words among the black community.
Once 'depression' exits someone's lips, you'll hear two things, "Pray about it" and "Don't let the devil in your mind." Over the years, that word has transitioned into something powerful. Men and women are making it known that one's mental health is a priority. Celebrities and TV personalities are using their mental pain as a call-to-action. The veil is finally being lifted and thrown in the trash. Being vulnerable has somewhat become a requirement when communicating.
2016 was the worst year of my life, mentally and physically.
At the time, my doctor diagnosed me with moderate depression, and it was wreaking havoc on my body. I would spend an hour in the bathroom stall at my job, crying every day before my shift. I was lost, sad, frustrated, and weak mentally and spiritually. I have already gone through two therapists that I only visited 2-3 times. I must say that I hated it. I didn't feel like a white person would understand my pain as a black woman, so I gave up on seeking help in that way. I relied on my prescriptions to do what they intended to do, which was to shut off my emotions, so I thought.
For three months, my mom would mention that I should see a therapist. I would get slightly annoyed because, at the time, I felt like I didn't need one. In October 2018, I decided to take a leap of faith and decided to see a therapist for the third time. Days before my first therapy session, I frequently asked the question, "Why do I need to see a therapist?"
Here are four signs that it may be time to see a therapist.
You don't feel like yourself.
We all have days where we feel a little "off", which could contribute to stress, not getting enough rest, and not eating the right foods. Imagine feeling "off" for four months straight and not knowing why you feel this way. Every day I felt like I was in a battle with myself and my thoughts. I still had to have the energy to get up, get dressed, and head into work, but it felt like one long Monday. As someone whose Google calendar reflects the schedule of a CEO, I prided myself on not forgetting and planning everything. However, during that time, I would forget important dates, names, my birthday, and why I went to the kitchen.
It felt like I was drifting through life. I lived every day in a subconscious state of mind.
What alerted me the most was I would drop things––not in a clumsy way, but I could be standing in pure silence, and I would drop whatever I had in my hands. I had a habit of dropping coffee mugs. When I saw my favorite coffee mug shattered in a million pieces on the floor, I knew that something had to change. When you can look at yourself in the mirror and not recognize who you are, it is a sign that you may need to speak with someone.
Nothing you've done seems to have helped.
You've gone to the doctor, took the required medication, talked to family and friends, or slept it off, and you still don't feel any relief. You've done everything in your power to feel better, and nothing seems to work. My biggest flaw was compartmentalizing my problems and suppressing my feelings so deep that I became numb. I knew I had to see a therapist when I could no longer ignore the hurt and the pain that I felt about myself and those around me. The harder I would try to forget, the louder and faster my problems revealed themselves.
You feel like no one understands you.
No matter how many times you've explained your issues, you feel that people on the receiving end aren't understanding your issues or that people are giving lackluster advice on what to do. I consider myself a good communicator. I take my time and express my words in a way, so I don't repeat myself. But back then, I felt like I was met with deaf ears or blank faces as if I were speaking a foreign language. Those were the moments I found the most frustrating.
I felt myself isolating myself even more. If my own family couldn't understand my pain, I didn't think a therapist would. Before I decided to go to therapy, I spent three months in isolation and no longer explaining my problems to people. That's when I knew I needed to seek help.
You are having a difficult time processing the loss of a friend or a loved one.
The year was 2012, and I was in school with approximately two months left before I graduated. Three days before my birthday, I experienced the loss of my uncle. That was one of the most challenging times in my life. After the funeral, I had to go to class the next day, and I couldn't function. My mind shut down, and I was going through the motions. I didn't remember the exams I took, what grades I got on them, or any new material. After two weeks, I wanted to quit school. I was no longer interested in my passion. Although I didn't go to a therapist at that time, I was encouraged to stay in school in my uncle's memory.
When experiencing any loss, it feels like you lost a part of yourself. What I've learned since then is that there isn't a right or wrong way to mourn. We all process loss differently than the next. There also isn't a timeline on when you'll get better. If it comes to a point where you can't function and slip into some depression, then it's suggested that you see a therapist.
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Featured image by Giphy.