I once went through a short phase of depression and it took six months and a complete mental breakdown before I could admit to myself that something was wrong. I kept telling myself that I was a strong, Nigerian woman. And that I couldn’t possibly be depressed and with time I would get over it.
For many years, Africans have regarded mental illness or making mental health a priority as un-African. We think of it as a white man problem, We feel we are too strong for things like therapy. And that issues affecting mental health just don’t happen to us.
Am I Crazy?
Of course, these are all self-soothing lies many strong, African women tell themselves. The thought of going to see a therapist comes with the notion that you’re crazy when in fact it means you’re anything but that.
Studies have shown that many physical diseases start in the mind before manifesting in the body. If this is so, why the stigma with mental illness when in all actuality it is just as important as physical health?
If your physical health is priority enough that you go to see a doctor monthly or however often for a regular health check, sick or not, then why should your mental well-being be any different?
Everyone needs a therapist
Going to see a therapist every now and then doesn’t mean you’re broken. If you’re physically ill, you seek professional help from a doctor (inasmuch as we have a bad habit of self-medicating and I fully discourage this) so there is nothing wrong with seeking professional help if you’re mentally ill.
But if everything I have said till now does not convince you, here are a few other benefits that will help.
A lot of our emotional issues come from the way we feel about unresolved issues. This means we don’t have the solutions to our problems, and this can cause emotional stress. Sometimes we’re not even sure why we feel the way we do. So, talking to a professional can help us get to the root cause of our emotional instability and ways to handle it.
Sometimes our issues may seem overwhelming and bigger than we can handle. But this may not always be the case. A therapist can help you dissect a problem and show you a different perspective or way of seeing things that you’d have never thought of. They allow you to look at any hill you’re climbing from a new angle and also break down the problem in a way that seems less overwhelming with a strategy to help you move forward.
As I said earlier a lot of physical diseases are a manifestation of the state of your mind. So, therapy can help deal with these physical ailments as well. Or it can put you in a much stronger and better mental state to deal with the physical health issues you may be having which can go a long way in speeding up recovery.
Therapy is great, it’s not un-African, neither is it for the weak. It Is for everyone. Just make you do your research properly and find a qualified, caring therapist. You’ll be so much better for it.
Have you ever seen a therapist before? What was your experience like?