“That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.”
—”The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green [source]
In our darkest moments, light can seem so far away. In a world filled to the brim with tempestuous shadows, light faces an uphill battle. Much like pain, though, it demands to be seen, felt, and heard.
It can be blinding in its intensity, or it can be soft and welcoming. Like its negative counterpart, it can never be snuffed out completely.
I like to imagine the light as a therapist. Someone who is unbiased & clinical; someone that can give me tangible advice on handling these demons that have nested inside my head.
Mindfulness sounds awesome in theory, but in practice, it’s notoriously difficult to implement.
Brain: lol. Remember that time in high school when you rejected a guy asking you to prom so loudly the whole class heard? Good times, good times.
Me: To be fair, he was being a persistent as*hole and wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Brain: So? You still made a complete fool of yourself. Everyone judged you so hard…(laughs at your misfortune)
Me: (tiredly) That was years ago, though. Why does it matter now?
Brain: (gleefully) It doesn’t. I just like making you remember the things you want to forget. Part of my job description.
In this scenario, being mindful would require me to a) stop thinking about this particular memory so that I can focus on something else, b) not have flashbacks to this exact moment on constant replay, and c) tell anxiety to f*ck off.
The problem with that is as follows:
When I’m in an anxious state, I am not thinking clearly. I am not rational, nor am I convinced that there’s a difference between me and the woman in a straightjacket rocking back and forth.
It takes extreme mental fortitude to summon the will to overpower your own mind, and some days I just don’t have it in me.
Realizing that is what led me back to therapy.
For the record, I have been in and out of some variation of therapy since I was 12 years old. I’m basically a veteran at this point — very little surprises me when I see a new therapist.
That said, I know I have issues and I know that I need help.
So why do I feel so ashamed to go get that help?
Because of the ridiculous stigma surrounding mental health that permeates our society like a fog.
I’ve backed out of many plans with the flimsy ‘I have a doctor’s appointment!’ excuse; and only 2/10 times was it actually true. The other 8 were because I was in therapy that day and didn’t want to tell you because I didn’t want you to think I’m crazy.
Repeat after me:
Going to therapy does not mean you are insane.
I joke quite a bit about my sanity — or lack thereof — because I am a writer and therefore a masochist. Aside from that, I’m currently over $20,000 in debt to the U.S. Government for student loans, and that number is probably far higher now that grad school has come into play. And I’m voluntarily jobless.
What I’m getting at is that my anxiety and depression have a lot of gunpowder to load into their word weapons. These circuitous thoughts are just the tip of the iceberg though.
I’ve started talking about therapy on my Instagram stories with the hashtag #normalizetherapy and I encourage anyone else to do the same.
Do not let the fog become a storm.
Brianna Bennett is a professional writer, occasional Bookstagrammer (littlebut_fierc3), infrequent Twitterer (littlebutfierc3), self-improvement junkie, and forever-exhausted graduate student. Oh, and she moderates Medium Dreamers on Facebook.