I’ve started to write this article numerous times over the last few weeks, but I kept stopping for several reasons. I’ve heard the question time and again, “How do you know if therapy is right for you?”
First, some of the things I’m about to share have never been shared before. There are parts of my story that I’ve kept to myself because of the stigma surrounding mental health.
Second, I’m not a professional in the mental health field so I kept wondering, “What can a wedding photographer offer other creatives when it comes to this sensitive subject?” Then I realized that the main thing that was stopping me from sharing was fear. Fear of judgement, fear of criticism and fear of being seen as my anxiety instead of a normal person. I quickly snapped out of it when I understood that if just one person reading this learns that they too can seek professional help for their mental health and feel better, then it would be worth it.
Please know that this article is written from first hand experience from a girl who has dealt with anxiety and panic disorder long before she went to seek help from a licensed professional. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please seek professional help immediately or call 1-800-950-NAMI (6264).
3 Ways to Know If Therapy Is Right For You
1. You’re avoiding responsibilities.
If you find yourself avoiding tasks in your life and your business because of your mental health, or the things that usually bring you joy no longer do, this could be a big indicator that your mental health is starting to affect all aspects of your life. If you’re lying to yourself or others to cover up for your mental health, please know that you’re not alone.
The exact moment I knew that I needed to go to therapy was at the height of my anxiety and panic attacks. I had already been to the emergency room twice in six months because I truly thought I was having a heart attack. Both times, I was told it was a panic attack and I wish them on no one. The doctors all told me to go see someone, but I kept thinking that I could handle it myself.
Then, during one particularly high anxiety day, I was getting ready to head to a meeting at my client’s office. (At that time, I was a public relations professional working for a digital marketing agency.) I had thought up a hundred scenarios in my head about having a panic attack in front of other people.
How would I react?
What would others say or think?
I knew I had to do whatever I could to get out of the meeting. I called my client and told him that I had a flat tire, so we’d need to reschedule. All of it was a complete lie. I remember hanging up the phone and feeling so much relief that I didn’t have to go to the meeting and worry about the possibility of having a panic attack.
Soon after, the tears started because I knew that I couldn’t keep lying to cover up my anxiety. That’s not who I was. I made the call the next morning to go see a therapist, and I can tell you it is the best thing I have ever done for myself.
2. No one in your circle can help you.
If you feel this way, you are not alone. So many times the people closest to us (spouse, parents, siblings, family, friends, etc.) all try their best to help you through your mental health symptoms. Sometimes, you may just need someone you love to listen so you can share your situation with them.
Although, if you’re not feeling better after hearing what help they offer you, it could be a sign that you need to see a professional. While the people closest to us have our best interest at heart, they cannot get to the root cause of your mental health condition(s) and give you ways to cope.
So many times I would hear these phrases from loved ones:
“You’ll be OK!”
“Just calm down and take deep breaths!”
“It’s all in your head.”
“You’ll get over it.”
“This too will pass.”
While those people think these phrases may be helpful, it couldn’t have been farther from the truth. The word choices were said out of love, but when they can’t relate to how you are feeling, it can make you feel even more lost and confused.
3. All self-help techniques that have worked in the past are no longer working.
There are numerous ways to help combat the symptoms of mental illness that you can do from the comfort of your home. From meditation and deep-breathing techniques, to exercise and other forms of self-care, you can find what will hopefully work for you.
But I can also say that even after applying multiple self-help techniques, you may realize that those are no longer working. (And that’s OK!) This simply means that it’s probably time to go seek professional help.
During the height of my anxiety, I was graduating college, planning my wedding and securing my first job. A close friend mentioned that I should try yoga to help with my stress and anxiety.
I left my first class feeling like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders and ever since then, I was hooked.
Unfortunately it got to a point where yoga alone wasn’t enough. Yoga, along with seeing a therapist was exactly what I needed to begin to feel like myself again. Practicing yoga helped me so much in fact that I decided to become a yoga teacher.
Knowing that if I could help just one person feel the relief I felt from establishing a regular practice, the training would be more than worth it. I’m proud to say that I have been teaching yoga for five years in Northeast Ohio and at photography conferences around the country to fellow creative entrepreneurs.
If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this article it’s that you should never be ashamed for having a mental illness, although the stigma surrounding mental health tries to tell us otherwise.
We sadly live in a society that is so quick to help someone with a broken arm and give them x-rays, casts, and pain medicine to help them mend. Yet, when someone says they have anxiety, depression, or any other issue with the brain, the thought of suggesting counseling, therapy, and medication is deemed a sign of weakness and failure. Society makes us believe that it’s not okay to not be okay.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
According to a study by psychiatrist Michael Freeman, entrepreneurs are 50% more likely to report having a mental health condition.
If you find yourself to be part of that 50% like me, I promise you that’s it’s okay to seek help for your mental health. Your brain is an organ, just like the heart, lungs and kidneys. You aren’t any less of a person if you have to take a pill to help find relief. If you’re struggling, please reach out to someone you can confide in or call a local counselor and get the help you deserve to feel better.
Even if you aren’t experiencing a mental health issue, I’m a firm believer that anyone can benefit from therapy!
Sometimes it’s nice to talk with someone and stop potential issues from coming up.
I would also highly encourage all creatives to reach out to a friend or fellow creative. Take them to coffee and ask them how they’re really doing. Support and encourage those who are struggling to seek help. You never know when you might just help change someone’s life by showing them they aren’t alone.