I grew up in a family that used therapy as a threat.
If there was something wrong with you, you needed to see a psychiatrist.
You were a sick person. You needed help.
Even as an adult, I still come across this perspective. Want to really, really hurt someone? Tell them they’re sick. Tell them there’s something seriously wrong with them. Tell them they’d better get mental health help. Even better, if you’ve got the power, force them to see a counselor. Then sit back and snicker to yourself.
Ever had someone do that to you?
The people most likely to accuse us of being “sick” and needing professional help are those closest to us. Family members. Romantic partners. Exes. People who’ve gained the privilege of becoming part of our inner circle and hearing our deepest secrets.
They use what we’ve shared with them as a weapon. Now that I know your secrets, I know how “messed up” you really are.
It’s a powerful accusation. After all, these people supposedly know you better than anyone. Is there something inside yourself that’s dark and ugly? Something that’s obvious to everyone else but you?
Of course not. You’re beautiful. You’re no more “messed up” than anyone of us. But you know what’s really messed up?
Using the concept of mental health to shame people.
Here’s what your accusers don’t know: Therapy will set you free from them.
Therapy will show you that your accusers are projecting their darkness onto you.
They’re not trying to help you. They’re trying to shame you. They’re trying to make you feel embarrassed. If they crush you, then they gain power over you. You’re more likely to do what they want. You’re no longer a threat to them.
Here’s what I believe.
Everyone can benefit from therapy. Not because we’re “sick,” but because none of us has reached our full potential. We could all use a friendly cheerleader encouraging us, someone experienced in human psychology who can spot our limiting beliefs as well as our gifts.
Therapy will help you understand yourself. It will show you how your life has led to the person you are now. Even more importantly, it will help you see that the lies people have told about you aren’t true.
Did your parents call you selfish? Does your partner call you manipulative and disgusting? Did a teacher once claim you were dishonest?
Well, ask your therapist. Find out whether those labels have any merit.
What you may very well find is that those labels define your accusers, not you.
Whenever anyone accuses you of anything, they’re holding up a mirror. What they claim to see in you is what they see inside themselves.
That person who calls you sick? That person knows there’s a part of themselves, hidden away where it will never be discovered, that isn’t well. They’re projecting their sickness onto you so they don’t have to face it in themselves.
The person that says you need professional help? They’re frightened of the possibility that they need professional help. They deny it that possibility so absolutely that they see a world in which everyone else but them needs professional help.
If your family agrees that you’re the black sheep and that you need to be “fixed,” then consider that an admission that the family system itself is dysfunctional. The family needs counseling.
The best thing you can say to someone who claim you need help from a mental health expert is to tell them, “Sure, I’ll go if you pay for it.”
Because you have nothing to hide.
Your therapist will be on your side. Your therapist will see the beauty inside you. Your therapist will help you break free from the lies other people have told you about yourself.
If your therapist can’t do those things, then find another one who can.
Therapists are not in the business of shaming people for their wounds. Therapists are in the business of healing. They want you to feel wonderful, which can only happen when you deal with all that old crap dragging you down.
And those accusations are “old crap.”
World Mental Health Day is October 10th. Spread the world that it’s not okay to bully people by accusing them of needing professional help. Anything you throw at other people sticks to you.