Living your life to its fullest is a goal that everyone should strive for. The path to these goals can vary drastically from person to person. Our lives are all different. We all come from different backgrounds, experiences, and circumstances. Every new year, millions of people commit themselves to starting fresh, dedicating the upcoming year to health and happiness. Many publicly declare the desire to physically improve their lives, but they leave out the desire to improve their mental health. For years, there has been a stigma when it comes to discussing mental health. It has often been brushed under the rug as a private matter.
Lifting the Stigma Surrounding Mental Health
In recent years, there has been a movement to accept and lift the mental health stigma. This should no longer be a private matter. Mental health is just as important as physical health. One of the best places to start is seeing a medical professional who specializes in mental health. Seeing a therapist for the first time may seem overwhelming, but in fact, it could be one of the best decisions you make for yourself.
Should I See a Therapist?
You may be asking, what are the signs it’s time to see a therapist?
You know yourself better than anyone else. You can understand times you may not feel like “you.” There are also instances where friends and family may notice signs before you do. Those who know you the best may notice subtle changes in your thoughts and actions that you may not have seen yourself. It isn’t easy, but if friends have commented on changes to what makes you, you, this may be a moment to consider if you’re showing signs of needing help. For many, it is hard to express to a friend that they may need help. There is enough stigma without hearing it from others. It is vital to keep an open mind. A true friend will be coming from a place of love, not judgment. In general, there are some basic signs that may indicate it is time to reach out to a therapist.
Dwelling on an Issue Constantly
If you find yourself continually thinking or trying to cope with the same problem, this could be a sign that you won’t be able to solve this on your own, especially when it is consuming chunks of your day-to-day life.
Consider Current Relationships
You’ll also want to consider your current relationships. Do you struggle or find yourself at odds with friends, family, and loved ones without real reason? If you suddenly have trouble maintaining relationships that were once easy, a change may have taken place. Changes can include the way you care for your children or others; they could also include changes in the way you interact with others at work or school.
Has Something Diminished Your Quality of Life?
Do you feel your quality of life has decreased due to a specific issue? This is a clear sign that you may be struggling with some aspects of your mental health. You should never feel as though the life you’re living isn’t worth your energy. There should always be some element of joy in your life, even through the rough patches we all experience from time to time.
Has Your Routine Changed?
Have you developed different habits you didn’t once have? New habits could be eating, having a drink or drinks after work, or finding other ways to deal with issues that you may not have used in the past. This could be a sign that something has changed in the way you cope with problems.
Why Worry About My Emotions?
Let’s face it, we all experience emotional highs and lows. Life is never perfect, and we all struggle at times. While we all experience shifts in emotions, for some, these shifts can be more drastic or frequent. There are a few specific areas to keep an eye on when considering whether you may want to turn to therapy.
Are you feeling:
- Overwhelmed? This is an emotion we have all dealt with. It is the feeling that there are too many things going on or required of you. This leaves you feeling that you cannot truly rest, and this stress can leave your mind racing. If you are experiencing this emotion enough to distract you from your day-to-day life, you may benefit from the help of someone who can teach you management skills. No one should feel overwhelmed daily.
- Fatigued? This is the physical symptom of emotional/mental pain. This can often lead to an individual sleeping more and often feeling tired even after getting enough sleep. It can be hard to get out of bed. Those struggling with fatigue find it hard to go about their daily tasks.
- Apathetic? This can include losing interest in your usual activities; it could even impact the world around you and your life in general.
- Hopeless? No one wants to necessarily experience this emotion, but unfortunately, everyone faces it at some point in time. This is the feeling that you have no future. That things are pointless and will never look up. It is perfectly normal to experience this emotion, but there should be a level of concern if this feeling becomes persistent, especially if it makes you question living.
- Withdrawn? It is completely normal to want to have “you” time. This can vary from individual to individual. Some of us are naturally introverts who prefer to be alone at times. If you find yourself feeling genuinely concerned or distressed about interacting with others, this may be a sign that there is something you may need help handling.
What Will Therapy Do For Me?
You may be asking, why should I go to therapy? What difference will it, or could it, make?
The truth is that the benefits of therapy can far outlast other methods of dealing with issues, such as medications. Therapy helps you to understand what you’re feeling, what you might feel, and how to cope with these feelings. Understanding how to cope is key to improving mental health. Therapy provides tools and techniques that help address symptoms in a manner that can provide improvement.
It Will Help You Learn About Yourself
Therapists are there to listen without judgment. Your therapist will prompt you when needed but allow you to control the path of your treatment. Your therapist will listen and help you make connections you may have been unable to see yourself. They are there to offer guidance, not tell you what you should or shouldn’t think, feel, or do.
Therapy Can Help You Achieve Your Goals
Goal setting can help improve and structure your life. It is good to have goals, both long and short term. A therapist can help ensure that you are setting realistic goals for yourself. They can help make sure your goals are clear, achievable, and provide you with enough challenge to feel rewarded once you hit those goals.
It Can Improve Your Health
As previously stated, your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Mental health can influence the success of your physical health, especially if you face a complication or significant challenge to your physical health. Better health truly is a balance between mind and body.
What to Expect Your First Time
Seeing a therapist for the first time can seem frightening. Vulnerability usually is.When it comes to finding the perfect therapist or setting, the answer isn’t always concrete. You’ll have to start off doing some research of your own. This may lead to some trials and errors, but what matters is your commitment to finding someone who can help you be the best you possible. You’ll want to research your options.
Now more than ever, there are many sources to find mental health providers. For some, finding someone you can meet physically is ideal. For others, they may find it best to use more technologically advanced methods such as virtual therapy sessions. What ultimately matters is that you can find someone you are comfortable opening up to. Your therapist is there to help you, even if that means suggesting someone else who might be a better fit. You’ll want to find someone who can help with your specific needs.
Consider the Fit
Not all therapists are the same. Some specialize in specific areas that may or may not be influencing your particular circumstance. This is where your initial research can help limit your field of choices. You are entering a relationship in which honesty will be critical. You want to find someone you are willing and able to open up to and feel heard. With this comes the understanding that this is not an easy task. You’ll often feel worse before you feel better. You’re most likely seeing a therapist because you’ve developed unhealthy coping mechanisms that may feel familiar but aren’t helpful. Once you’re asked to shed these coping mechanisms, you may feel out of control for some time. This means you’ll have to trust your therapist and their method.
Stand Up for Yourself
Naturally, you may clash with your therapist. They are human beings, and they can make mistakes. You must be able to stand up for yourself. If you find yourself getting upset or feeling offended, it is important to let your therapist know. Even if you struggle to do so in person, a call, text, or email to hash out your feelings can help determine why their statements offended you and where you can go from there. If this becomes a consistent issue, it may be time to consider seeing someone else.
Attachments Are Normal
Once you find a great therapist, you may notice yourself developing attachments you didn’t expect. This is normal. You have someone willing to set time aside for you and your needs specifically. The importance is the ability to discuss these emotions instead of hiding them or feeling ashamed.
Understand Their Policies
Not all therapists hold the same policies. It is important to understand what your therapist does and doesn’t allow. This can include guidelines in calls, texts, or emails. These policies could also include emergency services. The first meeting or two can be overwhelming, so don’t be afraid to ask for copies of all paperwork and guidelines.
Getting Started With Therapy
It is time to fully break the stigma of mental health. A vast majority of people deal with mental health stresses daily. Medications can only do so much, and many people turn to self-medicating, which can be far more destructive and drive mental health stressors to a further extreme. You deserve to enjoy the greatest quality of life possible. By opening up to a trusted professional individual, you may be able to enjoy life to its fullest again.
Therapy services can change the way you see your life from the most minor day-to-day instances to the largest life goals you may conceive. If you are ready to learn more about therapy services in New Mexico, Sage Neuroscience Center is prepared to help! We have an awesome care team and a number of health and therapeutic services to help fill all of the needs of our local community.
There is no better day than today to start taking care of yourself mentally to lead your best life. Reach out anytime to learn more.
Currently, my focus is on Substance Use Disorders, but my goal is to work with both SUDs and BH in the future. I have my Bachelors of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Sociology. I completed my BA in Psychology with a concentration in Basics in Addictions Counseling through the University of New Mexico. I am currently enrolled in my Masters of Arts program for Clinical Mental Health through the University of the Cumberlands stationed in Kentucky.