“Are you STILL going to therapy?” she naively asked.
A few days ago at a camping trip, we were gathered around the campfire. A friend of mine who I haven’t seen in about six months approached me while I stood by the fire roasting wieners. She decided to make small talk with me and opened by asking me that question.
I furrowed my brows and was confused by her emphasis of the word “still.”
I stood there, looked her in the eyes and replied curtly with a resounding, “Yes..I still do!”
“Ohhh…good for you!” she replied patronizingly .
At that point I felt a bit aggravated by her tone. I snapped back, “I’m ALWAYS going to go, why don’t you?“
I stood my position and continued, “…I think it’s ludicrous that people don’t go to counselling. Why do you go see a doctor for an injury or a dentist for your teeth, but not a counsellor when feeling stressed?”
I sensed her withdrawal as she stood there in silence. I looked away from her and continued cooking the hot-dogs signifying that I was done with the conversation.
Maybe I’m just over-sensitive when it comes to mental health, but what bothered me with her question (other than her tone) was her use of the word “still.” The word still when used in her context with therapy implied to me that I’m a broken person and that there’s an expected end point to my healing.
If she simply accepted that counselling is a periodic part of my life, she wouldn’t need to ask the question. I would actually feel more whole as a person instead of like a wounded creature.
And besides, we wouldn’t ask someone out of the blue, “are you STILL going to the dentist?” or “are you STILL going to the doctor?”
I think the question posed about going to therapy was naive and patronizing at the same time. It demonstrates the lack of awareness, education and proper perspective about mental health and what the resources are for. It’s an underutilized resource available for everyone. Whether it’s to find healing, to decompress after a stressful week or to simply to check-in, our mental health is a lifelong commitment without an end date.
What I recently heard from an Asian friend was that her parents tell her that only Caucasians need to go to counselling. I was outright furious at that notion and find it simply ludicrous, racist, ignorant and incredibly arrogant! (Part of my goal in my book Living with the Dragon is to break these types of unimaginable cultural barriers.)
“We need a lot by way of education because what we don’t know and understand creates fear.” – Charles Kimball
When it comes to looking after our mental health, there is no “still” in my opinion. It’s an ongoing check-up that is overlooked and stigmatized and we need to overcome these negative mentalities. We need to break down these walls that are old-fashioned ways of thinking.
Let’s start today…