When most people think about therapy, they imagine lying on a long chair and just speaking to a therapist about their problems in life. In a sense, that’s what therapy is. The best explanation I received was directly from my therapist: “therapy is just a conversation with purpose.” Just like our physical health is important for our bodies, mental health is also important.
The Road Blocks
Within the black community and the Christian community, a common theme in regards to therapy is that it’s perceived as being a taboo. Mental health in both communities is only recognized if a person has an actual psychological disorder (bipolar, schizophrenia, PTSD, etc). Even then, it’s not taken seriously. There is no one way to decipher that someone is not in ideal mental space. Some believe that the only way to resolve mental health is to negate a person’s feelings, severely reprimand someone, or just flat out ignore a person. Others believe that you can just “pray it away.” I know this will ruffle some feathers. Yes, the power of prayer is very real. There is no denying that. However, speaking to someone directly that is also trained in helping navigate your issues is not a bad thing. As a black woman, society expects me to just be strong and to “get over it.” You can never get over something if you just internalize your experiences and not assess them. This leads to how we cope when something similar happens later in life. These are some of the factors that hindered me from following through in my search for mental wellness.
I decided to make the step towards seeking therapy because I was tired of everything not being okay. I felt (and still feel this way) so helpless all the time. I am fighting many internal and external battles daily. I’ve experienced trauma that I have internalized over the years. I know because of this it is affecting my daily life. I have a constant battle within myself of feeling like I’m not good enough and that I will never achieve anything successful in my life because of all the things that has happened. I desire to be in a healthy mental space so I can be a better mother, daughter, sister, significant other, and friend. When I began my journey to mental wellness, I didn’t know where exactly to look. I would google here and there for therapists in my area. I journal whenever I’m able. Then, when I started my Instagram for my blog, I stumbled upon a therapist and her podcast with her husband. I listened to a few episodes and instantly felt seen. I realized in that moment that I need a therapist that looks like me, is affordable, and who is also a Believer. I know that sounds wild, but it is very possible to find such a therapist. Lo and behold, I was on Instagram again and I came across a page called therapyforblackgirls. This resource is catered to black women in need of an affordable therapist in your area. After one quick search, I found my therapist.
Therapy requires submission. Submission does not always equate to weakness. Therapy is supposed to make you feel heard and it is a guide to the solutions of your problems. Granted, I just started my mental health journey. I’ve had one consultation and one session. I know that there is much work to be done. Being therapy has taught me so far that not being okay IS okay. I have to stop putting and allowing myself to believe that I am supposed to be great all the time. That’s simply unrealistic. My therapist is so reassuring because she allows space for me to be human. She encourages me to be kinder to myself.
Seeking therapy may not be your way of being mental healthy. There are many resources on different ways to assess wellness. Ultimately, what I want you to take away from this is that the first step is knowing that you need help and that getting help is okay.
Take care and be well!