There is a stigma surrounding mental health. It’s perfectly acceptable to make an appointment to see your doctor and receive treatment for physical ailments. We don’t think twice about mentioning that to our family and friends in casual conversation.
“Oh, I saw my doc last week about this nagging cold I’ve had.”
Short-term illnesses like colds or the flu and chronic issues like asthma or diabetes are viewed as ‘normal’ reasons to see a professional for help with our body’s struggles. And we don’t hesitate to share what our course of treatment is, whether that’s prescribed medication or holistic measures or simple lifestyle changes.
“Yeah, my doc prescribed a course of antibiotics and told me to get plenty of rest and not overtax myself for a few days.”
But when was the last time you heard a friend or family member casually mention that they’d been to see a counselor or therapist for help with their ongoing struggles with depression? Or anxiety? Or grief over the loved one who died a few months ago? Or anger and frustration over dealing with their divorce? Or general unhappiness with their life?
We don’t share that. We don’t casually drop that information into conversations. If we share it at all, we whisper.
“I saw my therapist last week.”
Because the stigma says there must be something ‘abnormal’ with us if we have to seek out a professional to help manage our depression, anxiety, grief, anger, midlife crisis, spiritual emergency, etc. Because those are situations we should be able to handle ourselves. Because it’s all in our heads. Because we should be strong enough for that.
Over half the clients I see for mental health care ask me a variation on this question, usually sometime in the first 3 sessions together– “So, do you think I’m crazy?”
It makes me so very sad every time it happens because that usually means they’ve been delaying seeking out help for months, if not years, because they were afraid of being seen as “crazy.”
Look, here’s the thing– every day comes with a new set of problems, events, ups and downs, knowns and unknowns, predictability and surprises. Some of it we can plan for, but some of it we can’t. Some of it is easier to deal with, and some of it is much more difficult to handle. That’s simply the nature of life.
But there’s no shame or embarrassment in asking for help to deal with life’s problems. And the sooner we ask, the better off we are.
If you’re curious about whether music therapy could help you manage your mental health, contact me anytime. I’m always glad to answer any questions!