Here you are. You have struggled and you have screamed and you have finally, in a rush of fear and relief, asked for help. Getting to this point was a fight in itself but you’re here now, which is the important thing. Help is coming. We are so proud of you.
In this place, there are decisions to be made. What will your healing look like? Will you go to therapy? Will you take up meditation? Will you see a psychiatrist? Will you take medication?
Here’s the thing about the answers to these questions: They are entirely yours. However you decide to heal is the right way. Whichever path you decide to take to come back to your life is your choice.
When I first sought treatment for anxiety and depression, I began seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist. Most of the people in my life were supportive and encouraged me to make and keep my appointments and to follow the instructions of the doctors whose care I was in. But there were a few people who cocked their heads sideways at the way I decided to take control of my life. They questioned the decision to enter therapy. They doubted the decision to visit a psychiatrist. And when I started taking medication to control my symptoms and give me the chance to gain control of my life, they debated that decision even though it wasn’t theirs to question.
At first, I found myself stunted by these comments. What if they were right? What if I was making the wrong choices? What if I ended up worse off than before? It isn’t as though these doubts were coming from faceless strangers. They were slipping off the tongues of people I loved and respected and trusted. The seeds of their doubt burrowed in my stomach and bloomed in my darkest moments. I sat in my car in a parking lot and squinted through the sunlight at the door of my therapist’s office. I cradled a bottle of medication in my hands and felt the weight of it. I stood in the doorway of a yoga studio with a five-dollar bill crumpled between my fingers.
In the beginning, I listened to the people who judged my healing and felt a flush rise on my cheeks. I felt like I had to justify each step I took, and it was exhausting. Sometimes, treatments for mental health issues can take time to ease symptoms and improve daily functioning, which provided ample time for me to continue listening to others and doubting myself.
I think the knowledge came slowly. I wasn’t always sure of myself. The only reason I kept going to therapy and taking my medication is because I didn’t know what else to do. Soon, it helped, and once it did, I was sure that I had done the right thing.
So what I want to say to you, knowing what I know now, is this: Don’t allow others to judge how you heal.
Because once I was in control of my life, my symptoms, and my healing, I didn’t care anymore what anyone had to say about it.