Updated: May 31, 2020
It’s OK to not be OK.
A truly holistic approach to health is one that honors the entire being- body, mind and spirit. As I always say- you can run 10 miles and eat a bunch of kale, but if you don’t deal with what’s going on in your mind, you won’t ever be healthy.
In honor of World Mental Health Day, I feel called to share my journey of mental health in the hopes that it will inspire others to take action on theirs.
About 3 months ago, I decided to take the brave step of seeking out a therapist. I wouldn’t say I had any major mental health concerns, however I felt like I had some things I needed to work through mentally to help me in my quest to be become the best version of myself. My main objective was to get some help dealing with my stress and anxiety, but I’ve gotten so much more. I want to share a few of the benefits I’ve taken from therapy, and why you should consider speaking to someone.
Here’s some of the reasons I LOVE speaking to my therapist:
Simply put, having a safe space to speak freely and without judgement is so freeing. We spend our lives saying/doing things for others, and for that one-hour session, you just get to be you and speak your mind. You can say things out loud that you maybe haven’t acknowledged to yourself, and you can talk through solutions as you come to new realizations about who you are and what you want.
I can’t stress this enough. For most of us, our friends and family are our therapists. While I totally support speaking to a friend or family member to help solve a problem, we need to recognize that they all have their own bias, opinions, and baggage that will ultimately influence what they say to us. Speaking to a licensed professional who has no bias and only has your best interest in mind is completely different. They can validate your thoughts and experiences in ways that your friends and family simply are not able to do. It’s honestly just so freeing to have someone say, “yeah, I can see why you would feel that way/think that way”. And nothing is good or bad in therapy- it just IS.
Identifying My “Saboteur”
You know that voice is your head that cuts you down? That voice that tells you that you aren’t good enough, smart enough, pretty enough… not worthy? I have struggled with that voice my whole life. In fact, that voice is so ingrained in my daily routine that I hardly noticed the difference between that voice and my voice. I’ve started to pay attention to my own thoughts and view them objectively (as if observing them through a lens rather than experiencing/being them). I’m able to separate the good, uplifting and happy thoughts (that’s Haley talking!) and the mean, condescending thoughts that don’t serve me (that’s my saboteur). With the help of my therapist and LOTS of practice/patience, I am now able to acknowledge that voice when it comes up and tell it to go away.
Acknowledging Family Habits
Mom and Dad- I love you both more than I could ever express. My parents gave me a great life and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. I’m sure many of you feel that way, too. So, this is not me cutting down my parents, or yours. But we must acknowledge that we are all products of our environment. Our parents are human, and humans are flawed. Even parents with the best intentions will unknowingly pass on emotional trauma, baggage and limiting beliefs. Talking to a therapist has helped me to view the world and people more objectively, challenge the beliefs I was taught about the world, and help me to love and respect my parents in a new way.
This has been a game changer for me. I’ve been able to identify so many patterns in my life that I didn’t know existed. Therapists have an ability to ask the right questions to get you talking and get you thinking and read between the lines to identify behavioral patterns. One of my biggest patterns is my need to be “perfect” (there is no such thing, but I’ve been trying since circa 1993). My therapist has been able to help me identify my perfectionist patterns in all areas of my life and learn how to let that go. In fact, we are working through letting go a lot of behaviors, thoughts, and beliefs that don’t serve me.
This is really just scratching the surface- there are a million and one reasons you should speak to a therapist. Speaking to a professional doesn’t mean you are crazy; it means you are human. If you are feeling anything less than your best self, I invite you to explore your options.
How do I find a therapist?
I’m not going to lie- you may have to kiss a few frogs before you find the right one. Finding a therapist is kind of like dating, honestly. Don’t be afraid to “play the field” and find the right person for your needs. Friends/coworkers are a great place to start for a referral. If you have health insurance, almost all major insurance providers will have an online portal where you can search for in-network providers. Many therapists might be fully booked, too. Don’t get discouraged- it’s worth it to find the right person.
Also, it’s worth noting that you don’t have to physically go in the therapist’s office anymore- there are many virtual options such as phone therapy or skype.
I think everyone could benefit from therapy, but I recognize that not everyone can afford it. Here’s some free resources for mental health if you feel like you’re in a crisis and need someone to speak to.
Mental Health Apps:
Free online resources for mental health:
SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.
The information on my blog is meant solely as a resource for tips and ideas on health. Everything expressed here is based on my personal opinion + trial and error, and should not be substituted for the advice of a licensed medical professional.