It's 2am. You're lying awake. You don't have to check the clock because you already checked it five minutes ago. If you can just drop off now, you can still get four hours before your alarm goes off. You stare at the ceiling, wondering why you're feeling this way. You can't quite put your finger on it. This isn't the first time, in fact lately, you've been feeling this way quite a bit. Maybe it's stress? You have been putting in way too many hours lately, trying to do everything perfectly. Great, now it's 3am. Three hours, you can do this on three hours, right? That thought pops into your head again, maybe you should talk to someone about this, maybe find a therapist? Maybe, but there's a nagging sense that you should just tough this out. Why haven't you made that call yet?
- You figure that this will just pass: We all go through hard times, it can be easy to convince yourself that whatever you're experiencing is just another period of high stress, and that it'll pass quickly There is absolutely truth to this! However, if your period of high stress is starting to get in the way of your life, if you find yourself lying awake tossing and turning more often than not, or if it's just gone on too long and you're ready to make a change, a professional consultation might be in order. A good therapist will be able to answer that nagging question - is this typical, or do I need help?
- You're not exactly sure what's wrong: I see so many people in my practice who have delayed coming to therapy because they just couldn't quite figure out what was wrong. On some level, this makes sense; usually, when someone goes to the doctor they present a specific list of symptoms, "I have a sore throat," or "I've been coughing for a couple of weeks now." Psychological discomfort doesn't always present so neatly. You may find yourself with more vague complaints like difficulty sleeping, feeling more stressed than you ever have, or drinking more alcohol than usual. It can be hard to put these experiences into words, and even more difficult to imagine explaining them to someone else. The wonderful thing about therapy is that you don't need to know exactly what's wrong in order to seek help, in fact, a lot of people don't. Your therapist will work with you to figure this out!
- You think you should be able to handle this on your own: You're smart, you're successful, and when you have problems, you deal with them on your own. You're the person that other people go to for help, not vice versa! Oftentimes, clients fear that working with a therapist will make them more dependent on other people to solve their problems in a way that makes them feel very uncomfortable. As a CBT therapist, my job is to give you the tools to solve your own problems, not foster dependence. Meeting with a therapist can actually help you handle problems on your own more effectively.
- You feel embarrassed and ashamed: Many people put off seeking professional therapy because they're embarrassed. People from my gender, culture, religion, town, don't seek therapy, and I shouldn't either. If you had a broken leg, would you try to fix it yourself, or would you go to the ER? Would you feel ashamed that you hadn't been able to set your own leg, cast it, and make it in time for your 8am meeting? Doubtful. It's time to start treating your mental health the same way.
- You don't think your problems are all that bad: I mean, don't you have to be in a really bad way before things come to that? Emphatically, no! The best time to seek help is before things feel out of your control. Just because you might compare yourself to others and think their problems are worse, that does not mean that yours are not somehow worthy of help.
Dr. Scrivani specializes in the Cognitive Behavioral treatment of anxiety and related disorders, and provides tele-mental health services to residents of New York, Florida, and internationally. Call (888) 535-5671 or email [email protected] to set up a free consultation. Visit my website for more information