I ain’t perfect, nobody walking this earth’s surface is… -Jay-Z
So, I’m just going to come out and say it. *clearing throat while sitting up tall* I have been going to therapy. Yes, you read right, a sista has been partaking in weekly couch sessions for the past 8 weeks, and frankly it’s something I should have done years ago. Now you may be reading this pondering to yourself, “OMG, I didn’t know Shelley was crazy?!?” *insert bbm shocked face* or “Why is she going, there’s nothing wrong with her” or “I would never go tell somebody my problems, I GOT JESUS!” *waves church fan* Whatever you may be thinking right now, that’s your business lol. But allow me to share why I chose to.
This actually is not my 1st dibble and dabble into the world of therapy. In the spring of 2002, my sophomore year of college at NC State University, I was 7 weeks into a Statistics class that was about to hand me my first ever D. Terrified of not passing the class, I asked some of my peers what to do. It was too late to drop the class, and getting a tutor just wasn’t my style (foolish pride). Someone suggested that I go to the counseling center, give them a believable sob story, and the powers that be could grant me a coveted withdrawal recommendation due to personal hardship. The plan seemed genius and cutting edge, and being the drama queen that I am/was, I accepted the challenge. So I put on my sad face, and marched down to the counseling center. I entered into the therapist’s office, and the 1st thing I noticed was that her name was Grace (my sweet grandmother’s name). It touched my heart and made me smile, but I had a task at hand. Get that class dropped!! So back to the sad face. And…scene! She began to asks me questions on why I came to see her, and since I couldn’t admit the real reason, I began to talk about my personal life. And then it hit me…man, I really do have issues! I spent an hour talking to her about everything, things I had experienced over the previous 2 years in college, my mistakes, my losses, my feelings, etc. I walked in that office on a deceptive mission, and the tables quickly got turned on me. After 4 sessions of meeting with Dr. Grace, my original mission was accomplished. I was able to drop the class without it affecting my GPA or credits, but I really walked out of there with much more; a deeper understanding and yearning to know myself personally and get to the root of some things. There was some repressed anger, uncontrolled emotions, fear, etc there, but at the ripe age of 19, I was not ready to face them. So I carried on my life.
Fast forward to 2010. I’m 27, and facing my 2nd cancer diagnosis in 2 years. Immediately I go into Faith Fighter mode, and I take on the treatments under the disguise of Wonderwoman, with a smile on my face and a skip in my step. I have support and love all around me, and I have a relationship with GOD that gives me the encouragement and power that I need. But it is hard. Mentally and emotionally. There are times when I am just angry about what happened, and I have taken it out on the wrong people. There were times when sadness has overtaken me for hours, and I couldn’t shake it. I knew back in 2008, after going thru treatments then, that I needed to seek out professional help. There were some feelings and emotions that I needed to address, but I went on with the mantra that everything was ok. But it wasn’t; the aftermath of the storm left some stones unturned and it was time to rebuild. Coming back to work in September was difficult, having a million people ask me why did you cut your hair! Lord have mercy, if I had a dollar for everytime I heard that, I could retire! Inside, I wanted to steal them in their face (I know drastic), but outside I just smiled and gave them some generic reply. It wasn’t really until this past December when I realized it’s ok to say everything is not ok. It doesn’t diminish my faith in that truth that God has healed me, but there were some skeletons in my emotional closet that I had to face. What lies beneath is often we ignore the most, until we are literally forced to deal with them. I didn’t want to be forced, I willingly surrendered. The white flag was being waved frantically! This experience brought up some many other things that I had long-buried, and it was time to dig them up and knock them out once and for all.
So I am 8 weeks in, and instead of feeling crazy, I feel empowered. I took the first step on the road to mental and emotional health, and I am already seeing major improvements in how I deal with life. One of the biggest things therapy has helped me to identify is my behavior patterns, how I respond and why, and then the tools I need to react more maturely and positively. Therapy for me is a complimentary tool in addition to where I go first and foremost with ALL of my issues, GOD and His Word. My active approach is to seek God’s guidance first, cast my cares on Him, and ask Holy Spirit for help, because that is His job ya know ;-). And He told me to go, so I went! LOL. He also led me to a book which I recently finished by Joyce Meyer called “Managing Your Emotions”, which was loaded with scriptures and Godly wisdom on how to handle your “issues”, and it was another resource for me to fight depression and fear. With the tools and training I have already received at church, and now with therapy, a sista is about to be unstoppable!
I don’t know how long I will go, but I’m sure Holy Spirit will tell me when. Therapy has allowed me to not be afraid of sharing my feelings, even with God. He knows what we are thinking anyways; He is just waiting for us to bring them to Him. There is a stigma associated with seeking professional help, but I am now at the point where I don’t care. I need some help and I am no longer afraid to admit or ask for it. Who cares what other people think anyways…like Kanye said, “We all self-conscious, I’m just the first to admit it”…
Psalm 43:5 (The Message)
5 Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
He’s my God.