I Go to Therapy
I go to therapy. I’ve been going to therapy off and on for the last nine years. I’ve seen therapists for coping skills for panic attacks, for postpartum depression and anxiety, when my marriage wasn’t going as I thought it should, and when I lost my third child to miscarriage.
There, I said it.
I go to therapy and I am not ashamed of it. I go to therapy even when culture, especially African American culture, says I shouldn’t and that I should instead toughen up and pick myself up by my bootstraps. The thing is, there are no bootstraps. Heck, there are no boots. There’s just a girl who finds herself fed up with trying to be OK all the time.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health’s 2017 findings, more than 46 million American adults have a mental health condition—that’s nearly one in five of us. And of those millions (millions, you guys), nearly 20 million received mental health services that year. There are nearly 20 million of us who have collapsed into a therapist’s chair clinging to the ends of our respective ropes in a moment of desperation, yes, but also in a moment of hope.
I Share About Therapy With My Young Daughter
I have such a positive perspective on therapy, I share with all of my friends (and sometimes strangers, too) its value. I also share its value with my three-year-old daughter.
I suffered a traumatic miscarriage two days before Christmas last year. To say I was struggling with coping is an understatement. I tried to use everything I’ve learned from previous therapy sessions to this season of my life, but I just couldn’t do it on my own. So, I called a therapist. On the morning of my therapy session, my daughter asked:
“Where you going, mama?” as she clung to my leg.
“Mommy is going to therapy, baby,” I said without pause. “Mommy isn’t feeling well in her head and her heart so she needs to go talk to somebody to help her feel better.”
“I want to go to therapy, too!” she declared.
I Want Therapy to Be A Family Thing
While this was just a small moment, my heart felt a whole lot of pride. You see, growing up, therapy was talked about with disdain. Therapy, I was told, was for people who had too much time on their hands. After fighting past that narrative, going to therapy, and seeing how much it helped me, I made a promise that type of anti-therapy talk would stop with me. I want to normalize therapy for my daughter.
The likelihood my daughter may develop an anxiety disorder is a sad, but true possibility — scientific studies find 30-40 percent of anxiety disorders are due to hereditary variables, many of those disorders appearing near age 11. So, if my daughter does find she’s anxious and having a difficult time processing her emotions, I want her to, without question, seek the help of a therapist.
I want it to be a thing we do as a family. Oh, the Jennings family? Yeah, we go to therapy. No big deal. I want mental health to be regarded with as high importance as physical health. Because it IS that important.
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Are you going to therapy? Have you told your kids you’re going? How did you describe therapy to them? I’d love to have a conversation with you about it in the comments section. Tell me your thoughts!
Listen to more from Leah on the silent pain of pregnancy loss on a past interview on Parent Cue Live.