I wanted to go to therapy when I was only sixteen years old. I was struggling through my first heartbreak and did not know how to handle it. My friends and family were irritated that I remained heartbroken over a silly boy. No one wanted to hear what I had to say, nor did they care about how I felt – or at least that’s how it seemed. I desperately wanted someone to listen to me, to understand the pain I was enduring. I felt crazy for wanting therapy so young, but I thought it would help me overcome a difficult time.
Unfortunately, my mom denied me this luxury, because she believed I was too young to have a therapist. I had to mend from the pain on my own. Through this solitary self-discovery journey, I found my love of expressing emotions through writing. However, I sometimes think about how much faster I could have healed if I had help, if I only had a therapist to listen to me once a week.
Since I became an adult, I knew I could decide to get a therapist on my own. I did not need anyone’s approval. Two people in my immediate circle were against therapy: my mom and my boyfriend. They believed that my problems were common issues all people faced, and that I did not need professional help. However, that did not stop me from seeking out support. I suffer from anxiety, mainly social anxiety. I have trust and anger issues. I am very sensitive and do not take criticism well. I do not wake up in the morning with a positive attitude. I always find something to upset me and ruin my day. I knew I needed someone to talk to about these problems.
Therapists aren’t going to fix all your issues. They do, however, listen to you and try to understand what you’re struggling with, which is what I appreciate about them. I wanted to be prescribed medication because I believed my anxiety was quite debilitating and severe. I would have mental breakdowns and feel claustrophobic during significant events. I had two mental breakdowns last summer when I went on vacation with my boyfriend’s family. There were too many people around, and I believed everyone was thinking something negative about me. I felt insecure and unwelcomed, even without anyone saying anything to me. This was the first time I knew I needed a therapist to walk me through my issues.
My first therapy session was on April 15th this year. My therapist first asked me what brought me to therapy. I explained when my anxiety first started and what it has brought me to. She also asked me to make a list before my next appointment of all the things I want to work on while I’m in therapy. The first thing I wanted to focus on was being more positive in my everyday life. While I haven’t felt an overwhelming change in my personality since beginning therapy, I have been quite reflective on my life, and mindful about my daily patterns. I am trying to find more positive elements in my day to replace the negative ones. My therapist hasn’t given me many coping mechanisms yet because she’s still trying to unpack my anxiety triggers. It’s all about the process.
I found my therapist through this website called Therapy for Black Girls. It is a known fact that African Americans are afraid or uncomfortable seeking therapy in America, so it was great to find a website for African American women like myself. Many African American women want to appear strong and do not desire to seek help for their mental health problems. I am not a part of this circle, but I understand how they may feel. No one should be afraid to seek therapy. It is a safe place, and perfect for anyone that needs someone to listen to them. It is important to remember that your friends and family may not be supportive of your mental health endeavor. People have their personal motives and biases, and you have to learn to accept that. At the end of the day, this journey is about you.
What you tell your therapist stays between you two. You should not have to worry about who they are going to tell. It is their job to keep that information to themselves. My family and boyfriend know I go to therapy. Again, it is not something to be ashamed of. It’s healthy to have that person to talk to once or twice a week. You must be comfortable with your therapist. If you aren’t, you can always find a new one! You do not have to stay with the same therapist if you do not think they are helping you. Therapy is a healthy method that I recommend to everyone. It is not something to be ashamed of. If you are seeking one, please give it a try!
Written by: Audre ArnettInstagram: @infinityaudreee