I want to try therapy, but I’m embarrassed.

Yes, it’s okay to say it if you feel embarrassed or ashamed. It’s even okay to tell your therapist you feel that way! 

So, let’s talk about it.

Why is it so hard to ask for help? Simply put, some of us get a lot of social messaging that we should be able to figure out or “fix” things on our own. So, just asking for help can make us feel shame. Now, add on the stigma that we often still feel about therapy, and it’s even harder to ask for help! 

Where does that stigma come from? 

Mental health struggles, injury, or illness are often still seen as a moral issue or character flaw. We believe we should just magically be tougher or stronger or happier than we are. Worse, others often agree with us and/or give us unhelpful advice that reinforces this belief. “Just suck it up.” “Get outside and do something, you’ll feel better.” “It’s not that bad.” 

But this is like thinking you should be able to heal your own broken arm. If you don’t get treatment, and your arm partially heals but now it’s crooked and continues to cause you pain, are people going to say, “You should’ve been stronger” or “just wait, it’ll get better?” Of course not! And if you do go to a hospital for a broken arm, are you going to be ashamed that you’re getting treatment? Of course not!

MENTAL HEALTH IS MEDICAL, NOT MORAL. There are physical aspects to it, like brain patterns, that can be changed with talk therapy techniques. Therapists are trained in these techniques the way a doctor is trained to set broken bones. This is why you can’t, for example, think your way out of an anxiety disorder. Some medical issues require professional assistance; this is true for physical AND mental health. 

One more example: let’s say I am in a major car accident. I hurt my back, so I go to the hospital and get treated by a doctor. If I don’t, it won’t heal correctly and I’ll feel the effects for years, maybe the rest of my life. For the next few weeks, I have panic attacks during the day and flashbacks to the accident – this means I have a mental health injury called trauma, a very common and normal response to a bad car accident. It’s time to go to a mental health professional to get my injury treated; if I don’t, the trauma may not heal correctly and I may suffer from that injury for years, maybe the rest of my life. Just like any other injury. 

Mental health is health. There is nothing to be ashamed of, because it does not reflect our character. You’re not expected to set your own broken bones, do your own root canals, or recover from trauma by yourself. 

If you need help with your mental health, give us a call at our clinics in Apex, Fuquay-Varina, or Cary.

CarrieAnn Lefsaker

Mental Health Student Intern