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Monday, June 27, 2022

It’s time to normalize therapy

One of the world’s biggest podcasts has, very recently, officially endorsed the practice of therapy. Alexandria Cooper, host of the podcast “Call Her Daddy,” has created a loud buzz around the term, and for good reason. While Cooper usually keeps an eccentric tone throughout her work, her intense seriousness is an indication to listeners that she truly feels passionate about her point: Everyone that has the ability to go to therapy definitely should — and this should be a service we make more accessible. 

At the end of the day, as humans, we all have stuff going on. It’s okay to admit that. 

My first experiences in therapy, in honest language, were shitty. Neither I nor my therapist had any clue what we were doing, causing those Tuesday afternoons to be the lowest point of my week. My time there did not last long. After that, I thought that I was tough enough to figure my own issues out. In my mind, my life was not bad enough to warrant going to therapy again. I saw myself above asking for or needing help solving problems.

My methodology worked out for most of high school. I was constantly stressed and anxious and made some extremely questionable choices — but that’s just part of high school, isn’t it? Everyone else could deal with it. But then, towards the middle of my senior year, after a horrific day in online school, the independent-girl attitude fell through badly. The switch flipped, and I knew I had to suck it up and go.

My first day back to therapy was anxiety inducing. Who the hell wants to sit around and talk about their feelings? What do I even talk about? Can I tell this stranger I just met about all of my boy issues? (The answer is yes. Sorry, Jennifer for never taking your advice). I knew I had problems I wanted to talk through, but had no idea where to start. Our culture places so much pressure on pretending everything is good and often shames the idea of being open about how we feel. These social implications made it a lot more difficult to start, but it turned out with a bit of work. 

Some days were serious, if I was feeling it. Other days were like casual chats, if that’s what I was feeling. The most important part of every session was not putting pressure on it to be anything. Therapy does not have to be big, scary talks, which was a big misconception I bought into a lot. Even the smallest changes to my thinking and actions that we worked on in our casual conversations made the biggest difference. Every day had its own benefit that eventually accumulated over time, even when it did not seem like it. What finally came with my journey through therapy was a sense of peace of mind I didn't know I was missing, but will always be grateful to know now. 

The most important lesson I took away was that it’s okay to not be the tough guy all the time. Asking someone for help or needing someone to tell you how to get it together is not a sign of weakness. I encourage most people now, even if they don’t think they need it, to take advantage of mental health services available. It sucks to admit that you can’t figure everything in this life out alone. It sucks even more when you know you need help, but aren’t sure where to start, or how. However, prioritizing mental health, especially as students, is one of the most important actions you can take for yourself and your success. 

UW Madison Mental Health Services provides free access to mental health services to all UW-Madison students.

UHS offers: Telehealth Services, Group Counseling, and Virtual Self-Care drop-ins

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, the 24/7 crisis line is (608)-265-5600.

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