At the age of 36 I found myself finally sitting in front of a therapist, pouring out my pain and sorrow, from what I thought was post traumatic stress, due to an unnecessary custody battle I had recently started with my son’s father. What I later realized was that it really stemmed from that battle, plus pent up bad energy and experiences. It also was the product of lots of unhealed wounds that had developed throughout my childhood and adult life. I realized that this therapy thing was something I probably should have been doing for at least 10 years prior. Why hadn’t I ever sought therapy before the age of 36? Most likely because the need to see a therapist has always carried a stigma in the African-American community, a sign of my own failure to help myself, or my family’s failure to help me and/or “raise me right”. My family never talked about therapy as an option, while growing up. Even though my mother was an elementary school guidance counselor for part of her 35 years as an educator, helping countless children to deal with their issues at home and school, she still never suggested it as a potential part of an overall healthy life for her own children. Maybe because she didn't feel we needed it, as children who lived at home with both parents and performed well academically in school. Therapy in the black family is a taboo subject. It's never thought necessary as a proactive or reactive solution to the everyday and not so everyday problems of life. When I finally decided on therapy, I am happy to say that my entire family was actually very supportive. This made me feel proud of them, and more importantly, more comfortable in my decision to go. Now, I just pray they, as well as others, in ALL communities will try it out for themselves, even if it's felt to be unnecessary.
A few reasons that therapy is good for you:
It allows you to speak freely to a non-biased listener
It allows you to vent, which I've found to be great for the mind, heart and soul
It allows the therapist to offer great examples of ways to deal with your issues
From my heart to yours: Mental health wellness is important. Don't try to "fix" yourself. If you think you cannot afford it, research costs and options before giving up on the idea. There are loads of options out there! Find a therapist you feel comfortable with - one who can relate and understand you as a person, maybe one who understands your background/culture, but also someone who will challenge you to think differently.
Check out loads of information on therapy and everything thing psychology at: