By Britt LeBoeuf of These Boys of Mine
I saw something today that made me sad. I was in the waiting room of my therapist’s office when I saw an older man come out of one of the providers’ rooms to leave what I assumed was his counseling session and was greeted by another man in the waiting room that he clearly knew.
The two men exchanged pleasantries, with the man sitting next to me in the waiting room stating, “Oh, I’m just waiting for someone.” He said it in a way as to explain why he was present in an office for mental health treatment. What happened next surprised me.
The man that came out of the therapist’s room didn’t say anything about why he was there in response to the other man’s statement. Instead, he brought up something about another person they knew before saying his goodbyes and walking out the door.
As I sat there watching the exchange and glanced up from my phone, I was kind of surprised about the way things had gone down. I don’t know either of these men. I don’t know who they are, their life stories, their struggles or what they were really there for. But, what I saw was one man leaving a mental health care provider’s room, seeing someone that he knew in the waiting room, and being ashamed to admit or perhaps not wanting to state why he was there as a patient rather than just waiting on another person.
He completely deflected. He completely avoided.
Granted, that’s his prerogative. No one would have expected him to tell the other man why he was there in front of the entire waiting room, but the fact that he felt he had to dodge, deflect or avoid the fact that he was there as a patient seeking mental health treatment made me sad.
The exchange I witnessed today was not the first time I’ve seen someone reluctant to admit that they have had to seek mental health treatment. It’s also not the first time I’ve seen a person project their disapproval of such a thing.
We need to end the stigma.
We need to do better with our thoughts, our beliefs and our attitudes about mental health treatment.
I mean, really, people, this is not 1866 with men being sent to soldiers’ homes with “melancholy” when in reality they likely had horrible PTSD. It’s not 1950 suburbia with many people drinking to deal with their depression and anxiety and not being allowed to talk about it to anyone outside their own home.
It’s 2019. It is time to stop acting like seeing a therapist, taking medication or even participating in inpatient treatment is a bad thing.
Talking openly and honestly about our struggles makes us better people. Showing our children that it’s okay to admit that you are struggling, and that you are working your very hardest to work it out, makes us better parents.
There is absolutely no shame in telling someone that you love that you need help. To admitting that you’ve been battling a hidden fight for much longer than you should have.
I see a therapist.
I take antidepressants.
I talk openly about my struggles with anyone that will listen.
I have depression.
I have anxiety.
I have had thoughts of suicide at different points in my life.
I had postpartum depression with both of my children.
I have struggled with intense grief that I haven’t felt I could talk about before.
I have issues from my childhood that I’ve never addressed.
I have trust issues.
I am defensive.
Mental health treatment and medication can help with all of these things. They are the only things that can help with most of these things. They make me a better person. They make me a better wife. They make me a better friend. They make me a better mother.
Stop shaming people with mental illnesses. Stop shaming people that go to therapy. Stop shaming people that take medication. Stop it. Just stop it.
Those of us that struggle with these things are just doing our very best to live long, full lives and we need your support in this and not your judgment.
If you or someone you know needs help contact the National Alliance for Mental Health at 1-800-950-NAMI
This post was originally published on facebook.com/theseboysofminebybrittleboeuf.
About the Author
Britt is a married mother of two from upstate NY. Her background is in human services, but nowadays she spends her days wiping butts and answering hundreds of questions from her kids instead. You can read more of her stuff on her blog theseboysofmine.com or on Facebook.