College Crisis: Reversing the Stigma Around Therapy

Graphic by Ben Pietrusinski

I was embarrassed to be going to therapy. There. I said it. It is 2018, and yet, some people still think that going to talk to someone in an office with a bonsai tree is somehow wrong. Even though my anxiety gets more intense than other peoples’ nervous days, it’s wrong. Even though I used to have horrendous panic attacks, it’s wrong. Even if that wasn’t the case, it shouldn’t be a big deal that I want to talk to someone anyways. I’m still a normal college student … just one that goes to therapy.

But to get me there? To get myself to this place where I was okay with talking so openly about this negative stigma surrounding therapy? It wasn’t easy. It went like this: my anxiety was at a high and depression in a fuller force than ever. My parents didn’t understand why I felt the need to go talk to someone about everything when I had them. I didn’t feel close enough to my college friends yet during freshman year. Basically, everything became way worse before it became better.

It was only this past summer when I had my biggest panic attack yet that I decided this was just too much to handle by myself. Even with all of the support in the world from friends and family, there is a reason why there are licensed professionals. In my case, therapy changed my life, and I will tell that to anyone who asks me about how it’s going. It made me feel like I wasn’t alone anymore—that my feelings of anxiety and depression were and are very valid.

We are all only human. If everyone could get past this stigma that there’s something wrong with someone if he or she goes to therapy, we would be better off. In my case, talking about what was going on in my head may have saved me from my most frightening panic attacks. Opening the conversation up so people know it’s acceptable to want to talk to someone can change everything.

Moreover, there are more people I know who go to therapy (or talk about wanting to go to therapy, or have been to therapy in the past) than people who don’t. But for some reason it is more common to clam up when talking about it. I’m guilty of this too. You’d be surprised to find that the people we think are the most put-together are typically the ones who are actually struggling the most.

Like I said, we are all only human. Imperfections are part of life and they are what make us who we are. Talking to someone may be the way for some people to make it through the tough times in life, or overcome some of the things they are most scared of about themselves, and that is more than okay. In fact, it is awesome.


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