Realities Of Mental Health and Therapy


Mariah Hanlon, Staff Writer

I started to struggle with mental health in seventh grade. My family started fostering my three youngest brothers in October, and in November doctors diagnosed my dad with cancer. I struggled with thoughts that I wasn’t good enough, or am a burden or my family would be better off without me.

After my first panic attack left me sobbing on the pool deck during swim practice, I decided I wanted to get help. The school counselor at Jobe helped me, and I mostly talked about things bothering me. Eventually, my anxiety issues became so bad I felt like I burdened Mrs. Knox by going into her office every day to talk.

Once COVID-19 hit, I felt completely alone even though I live with six other people. I started to isolate myself from my family and friends, and some days I felt so lonely I couldn’t even get out of bed. One morning, I woke up and confessed to my parents everything I felt and asked to get professional help.

My mom called around and tried to find a psychiatrist who would help us figure out how to move forward. After five days of waiting, one of the offices finally returned her call. 

The doctor explained 10% of my recovery will be medication, 40% will be therapy and 50% will be effort that only I can put in. It terrified me. Everyone around me praised me for getting help, and they all said asking for help is the most difficult thing to do. In all honesty, I expected the doctor to say a few magic words and magically get rid of all of my problems.

Therapy is nothing like how movies and TV shows depict. When people hear I regularly go to therapy, they often ask how I can talk about myself for an hour straight. Well, I don’t. 

During an average therapy session, I usually make small talk for about five minutes, then for the rest of the appointment my therapist and I take turns talking about our experience. I’m there for my recovery, so I will talk about my struggles and my therapist will talk about how he has dealt with similar situations and offers advice.

I’m a work in progress, same as most people, but I’ve taken steps towards getting better. Three years ago, I wouldn’t be able to admit to myself or others I struggle with depression and anxiety, but now I openly talk about my experiences because I want others struggling to know help is out there. It isn’t easy, and it’s not a quick fix. However, by getting help, I learned more about myself and how to connect with people around me.