May is Mental Health Awareness Month. In honor of that recognition, I came across the following graphic on one of my favorite Instagram pages (shout out to @schoolpsychlife).
As soon as I saw it, I shrugged it off thinking, “not *my* people.” Of course, I surround myself with awesome, aware, non-judgmental people who would equally celebrate a mental health success or a physical health success…right? But, I couldn’t shrug it off entirely, because – while I do believe “my people” would cheer either statement – I don’t know for sure. I’ve never tested this theory.
You see, while my Instagram is full of gym selfies and pretty sunrise pictures from my morning runs complete with the hashtag #runningismytherapy, I’ve never snapped a red-nosed, puffy-eyed pic of myself post *actual* therapy and uploaded it to the ‘gram with a caption along the lines of “Really pushed myself to dig into some deep shit today. Total PR!!”
Why is that? I talk a lot about mental health. I’m engaged on several boards and committees focused on mental health awareness, treatment, and acceptance, and yet I’m still far more comfortable garnering praise from the social media ethos for the ways I strengthen my body than the ways I support the health of my mind and soul. This is precisely why the stigma continues.
So here it is. My public declaration. I go to therapy. I have for years. In fact, my whole family does. We treat it much the same as we do the doctor or dentist. It is part of the many ways in which we care for ourselves – mind, body, and spirit. I’m proud of the work I’ve done and I’m hopeful about the work I continue to do. I’m strong, capable, healthy AND I receive treatment for my mental health.
If this message resonates with you, please know that you are not alone. Go to therapy, attend that support group, take the meds, prioritize rest, and celebrate all the ways in which you are working on your health. Your call on whether or not you’d like to make a public declaration about it, but know that I’ll be there to cheer you on if you do.
On reflection, what I said above might not be the whole picture. It may just be that I’m strong, capable and healthy BECAUSE I receive treatment for my mental health. I’ve heard research supports a direct correlation between going to therapy and being a badass. Just sayin’.