I love this article because it is immensely validating of those who decide to take the difficult – and often tortuous – path of therapy. I have a friend who used to complain that people often thought of therapy as ‘tea and sympathy’ – this couldn’t be further from the truth, and Dr Stein’s post makes that plain.
I have another friend who is keen to point out that there is no such thing as ‘the hardship Olympics’ – and that though it may be the case that there is always someone else ‘worse off’ than you, that in no no way diminishes your own pain and your own experiences. Just because someone else may have ‘got through’ without therapy, that does not mean that it is ‘weak’ to seek help. Dr Stein’s post also highlights this important point.
Personally, I would love to ‘proclaim the benefits of therapy from the rooftops’ – I genuinely believe that at one point or another in our lives, we could all benefit from taking a closer look at ourselves, and the ways in which we interact with the world. However, as Dr Stein points out, going to therapy carries with it its own stigma, and it is hard to ‘own up to’.
For me, one of the key points of this post is that in therapy we learn to deal not just with our own imperfections, but with those of ‘life’ in general. We learn to accept not just ourselves, but others; to start to relinquish the need for control over every aspect of our lives and the actions of others; and we learn to spot our unconscious expectations of ourselves, of how others ‘should’ be treating us, and of what we have a ‘right to expect’ from our lives.
These are hard lessons – therapy is hard. It is exhausting, breathtaking and yes, I think patients (and therapists!) are to be respected for doing the messy, painful but ultimately rewarding work of helping to create a freer and more fulfilling way of living. Therapy is worth it – and I think that this wonderful post helps to show why.
The stigma of mental illness lingers despite the carloads of Xanax-filled vials in the pockets and purses of America. The notion of life as an easily mastered enterprise persists. When the going gets tough, the tough get going — so we are told. Those who cannot, by force of will, get through difficult events unaided are thought to lack the right stuff.
I disagree. There is a quiet heroism in admitting you need help. Opening yourself to a stranger requires courage. Awareness of your limitations is humbling. If all this were easy, therapists would observe lines leading to our turnstiled offices. Traffic pile-ups would slow the route.
Don’t get the wrong idea. The people who seek treatment are indistinguishable from everyone else. They range from rich, famous, and gorgeous to a more unremarkable lot. They are your neighbor and your friend. They might have been you and they may yet…
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