For years, I’ve talked about the importance of mental health, and how we need to break down barriers and go to therapy. Again, I’ve talked about it…but I have to admit, I’m one of those people who never actually takes their own advice. I wish I could say why; honestly, I’ve built a monstrosity of stress and other issues that have resulted in doing well … nothing. So, four months ago, I decided to bite the bullet and go to therapy.
Maybe it’s the cliché, “tell me all your problems so I can analyze them and tell you why you’re crazy” idea that is projected to us in the movies, but I have to admit … I was nervous. In fact, my first session ended in me crying crocodile tears and apologizing to some woman I had met 54 minutes before, all while saying, “I promise, I’m not this emotional, it’s been a rough day.” When in all actuality, I had built up so much anger and sadness that I could barely seem to function. I left that day thinking that if I could get through the first session, anything seemed possible. And yet, as I went back the following three weeks, I felt more and more ashamed of myself. Maybe it was because I sat in an office for an hour every Thursday telling a complete stranger all of my darkest secrets – well, not so much my secrets – but finally coming to terms with a lot of issues I’ve struggled with for the majority of my life. After all, I’m not perfect and Lord knows I will never claim to be, but I gave up.
I stopped going … and, at the time, I had no idea why.
It’s been a couple of months, and instead of talking about my issues, I have poured myself into this blog, into work … into everything else in my life, because the thought of telling somebody all of my problems actually scared me. No, maybe it scarred me. I’ve been … jaded for quite some time, stuck somewhere between being the best “Alana” I could possibly be, and feeling as if I would explode if I continued to let my emotions, literally, eat me alive. I stopped going to therapy because I was embarrassed, and it was the worst decision I could have ever made. There’s this sense that came over me when I was there; I sat in this room and talked, but part of me had this “out of body” experience where I sat there, next to this woman, and watched how deeply scarred I have been and I wondered, “when did all of this begin?” Here I am, making this effort to seek help … to find a release in this world, and I couldn’t bear the site of myself confessing how overwhelmed I have felt for quite some time.
There’s this stigma with mental health … this “box” we place everybody in; we look at them and think, “something is wrong with them,” when in all actuality, they’re just trying to work out issues like everybody else. This has been tearing me apart – this feeling of being a failure, because I couldn’t “handle” therapy, but I think we are our harshest critics and, because of that, I couldn’t admit that I wasn’t as strong as I always pretend to be … and that sometimes, I can’t be everybody’s confidant. And you know, that’s okay. My struggles don’t define me, what matters is that I, Alana, have not let those issues discourage me…ruin who I am, yet. Instead, I walk around with this smile – a smile that could light up a room. I just hope that this feeling of failure passes … before I become permanently tainted.