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Therapists Need Therapy

Self-Disclosure #1: I’m a therapist who has been depressed

Mental health issues, like any other health issue, affect everyone. It’s not particularly selective about who it chooses to affect, nor does it give you a time frame of how long the effects will last. I won’t get into the details of what caused my depression, because quite frankly, it’s irrelevant. Depression can be caused by numerous reasons, and what may cause depression in me, will have no impact on someone else. What is important, were my symptoms. Depression presents differently in various people. Ironically, society tends to have one very stereotypical image of what a depressed person looks like. We often look for the tearful, sad, person who is suicidal. And while this type of person exists and is quite common……….. I wasn’t one of them. Suicide is one marker for severe depression, not depression as a whole.   My depression was severe, but thankfully for me, I was never suicidal. I was moody, extremely irritable, aggressive, constantly tearful and manipulative. I lost 65 pounds in a little over 2 months. Yes, you read that correctly, 65 pounds. I am also a diagnosed insomniac, that became lethargic and was constantly tired all day and slept every chance I got. No one knew this, because I lied, habitually and expertly.  Despite what anyone says about not caring about what others think, they do; especially if it relates to being vulnerable.

Self-Disclosure #2: I’m a therapist that was embarrassed to go to a therapist

The stigma of going to a therapist is real, and one that I truly dreaded.  It was actually more than embarrassment, it was deep-seated shame, that stemmed from pride. After all, I was and am “A strong black woman”.  I had to figure out a way to “fix” myself that didn’t include therapy. To make matters worse, I was studying to be a therapist.  The level of hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance was of monumental proportions. There I was, in the throes of depression, studying how to treat it, encouraging others to get help, while refusing to do the same.  I was depressed for almost a year before I decided to get help.  Toeing the line of being super woman and the damsel in distress that super woman needed to save, rapidly increased my depression. I distinctly remember the day that I decided to go to therapy. It wasn’t a willing choice. There was no “aha” moment where the pearly gates opened, allowing my guardian angel to direct me to “the one” that would help me. It was a day filled with darkness; and the choice was made out of a desperate need to survive. I was wasting away, literally and figuratively. What should have been my opening pass, became my hail Mary. I was out of options and I resented what seemed to me at the time to be pathetic weakness.

This experience truly taught me the difference between empathy and sympathy. I know what it’s like to walk into a therapist’s office looking for help, but subconsciously prepared to reject it. I credit this part of my depression: the back and forth, the shame, the embarrassment, the fear, the pride, all of it related to actually seeking help; with making me a better therapist than I could have every possibly thought to be.

Self-Disclosure #3: I’m a therapist that currently has a therapist

Shocker. I know.  “How can someone, charged with helping others with their mental health issues, be in need of that same help?” But before you let allow your mind wander into the realm of trying to yank my license because I am “unfit” to practice; remind yourself that I am actually a human. I go through the same, “normal” human problems and trials that my clients go through. I deal with death, heartbreak, financial concerns, familial and platonic problems as well as work stressors. So, I too, at times need someone to help me alleviate these stressors. Thankfully, I am no longer depressed. But, to ensure that I don’t fall back into the throes of a deep depression, I see my therapist. It’s one of my many ways of self-care. Some people go to the spa, or the gym or hang out with friends…………I go to my therapist. I don’t see her as often as I did when I was in the middle of my depression. We have more of a wellness checkup/maintenance type relationship. I still have scheduled appointments, once every 90 days and if I need more, because some crisis occurred (death, excessive stress, trauma) then we adjust accordingly.

If I am having a bad day, I can’t share that with my clients and ask them to excuse my foul mood. When a client says something triggering (and they will), I cannot leave the session. I have to be present and available to meet the emotional and mental needs of my client while they are with me. That can be difficult at times especially if “life” is happening. Going to therapy is not just for me, it’s for my clients.

Simply put, without my therapist, I wouldn’t be an effective therapist.

I am a Licensed Associate Professional Counselor, trying to advocate for Mental Health in minorities. My venture into the psychological world is a personal one, as I have personally experienced as well as seen first hand the effects of mental illness in those around me.  I previously worked at a mental health institute on a locked unit, assisting in treating individuals that were in an active crisis. Currently, I work with individuals individuals in an out patient setting that have a variety of mental health issues. I specialize in depression, anxiety, relationship issues (familial,intimate and platonic), trauma/PTSD, Racial identity, Women’s issues and coping skills.

I also have a podcast “Mental Unwind” that is dedicated to educating & empowering racial minorities about mental health.  Our goal is to provide factual information in a casual setting that allows unbiased and non-judgmental discussion about mental health issues that affect our communities.

~Mental Health Matters~

16 Responses to “Therapists Need Therapy

  • Let me first say, I am totally empowered by your honesty. As one who has experienced depression twice in the past 5 years (once with therapy + once without), and I can totally relate to the SBW pressure, and the pressure to be the provider of all things for all people, but hardly get any of that poured back into you. I am blessed to have a mom who is a psychologist, so therapy was never stigmatized within my household. However, it was certainly stigmatized in the greater community. I used to attend in secret, so I wouldn’t be judged. Now, I too see a therapist regularly, and it’s liberating to share that I not only need counseling, but I WANT it! It’s part of an agreement with myself to be the best me, do my best work, and live life abundantly. I finally understand that now. I commend your ability to be so transparent with us, because it allows us to be honest with ourselves. Thank you!

    • Kewashah Naomi
      12 months ago

      Dr. Asha, Thank you do much for sharing as well. The SBW pressure is slowly killing us, and we have to find a better way to only survive but thrive, in this world as we navigate every day life.

  • Joan McDonald
    12 months ago

    Ke – ke, If I may call you so. I’m impressed from what I read about you and your journey to this point in time. As you know my journey has some similarities of depression, sadness and deep anger. I’ve been in therapy on and off for many years but this last session of intensive therapy has assisted me in changing my thought pattern towards my life past and present. I am doing much better at this point and I choose to be happy in my circumstances. I will continue to visit your blogs as I’m sure It’ll be enlightening and relatable.

    • Kewashah Naomi
      12 months ago

      Joan, Thank you for sharing some of your Journey. I know that it has been a very difficult road for you and I truly admire your strength and fortitude. I am delighted to hear that therapy has been working for you and I hope it continues to do so.

  • Stacy Hernandez
    12 months ago

    Ms.Naomi–
    Thank you so much for your transparency. Your account of dealing with depression rings so genuine and authentic!! I can appreciate that you went through, as I am finishing my practicum part of my MFT degree. I also work FT and late last year decided to see a therapist through EAP because work was so overwhelming. I remember feeling frustrated because it took me a while to find her office so I was about 20min late when I did find it. I remember feeling like we weren’t really connecting ( for instance she told me that I should quit my job if it was too stressful–because having no job and the same bills is better?); like she wasn’t really hearing me. It was made me feel and appreciate the how the power dynamics shifted for me, as I was now the client. I used that time and experience to soak up some of the feelings that my first time clients must feel coming to see me The anxiety, fear of the unknown and fighting the feeling of just turning around and leaving when you are walking up to the door. It also made me realize how important it is to establish a rapport quickly. Honestly, within 10 minutes I knew that I wasn’t coming back and we didn’t connect. But while she didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean that there wasn’t someone who would. So being on both sides of the desk brings a unique experience that I don’t think can be found in the some of the best theoretical frameworks of therapy. The most important thing that we bring is ourselves–not our perfect version. The version, that has been bumped, bruised, and has sat in that very spot that they are occupying feeling some of the same things.. It’s our experiences that set us apart and because you have had yours and I’ve had mine, we are better for it. Thank you for allowing Diana Prince to take care of your Wonder Woman.

    • Kewashah Naomi
      12 months ago

      Ms. Stacy,
      Thank you so much for being open to getting help and willing to seek it after not getting what you needed initially. I think that is a very important part that people often get discouraged by and I appreciate your willingness to acknowledge that. It’s often us in the field that aren’t the best at this self care thing. I am still a work in progress in that area. Thank you for your support.

  • I grew up during a time where the stigma that surrounds having a therapist was extreme, and you simply didn’t talk about needing this kind of help. As I am now older, more mature and real with myself and focused on self care and self love, I often refer people to therapy and know the long term benefits that a therapist can add to your life. It is strange to me that in business people pay coaches a vast amount to learn how to be better in their daily business lives, yet when it comes to therapy, seeking mental help is seen as a weakness. Although I don’t personally have a therapist, I surround myself with those who also believe in self help and we pour positivity and greatness into each other daily, knowing that at any moment, it could be our time to invest in ourselves for professional help. I regularly encourage people to seek help from therapists because I have witnessed the benefits and I believe wholeheartedly in changing your mindset to change your life. #YesQueensYes 💖

    • Kewashah Naomi
      12 months ago

      I have often silently chuckled at the irony of people investing in their businesses but not themselves.I think it’s great that you have reached this point in your life and thank you for being so willing to encourage others to seek help.

  • Thank you so much for sharing your truth. I couldn’t imagine how many times you’ve teetered sharing this story. As a helping professional as well it’s always been vital for me to perform regular self checks to gauge my help-o-meter. Becoming ok with giving and receiving help has been my biggest resource. I’m so thankful to hear that you too have decided to help yourself just as much as you help others. Love & Light!

    • Kewashah Naomi
      12 months ago

      My self care gauge is a constant work in progress and unfortunately one that I am not as ardent about as I should be. I am significantly more mindful about it now than in the past, but there is room for improvement in that area. I will now use “help-o-meter” in regular conversation 🙂

  • This article has shown me that it’s okay, not to be okay. I was diagnosed about 5 years ago with major depressive-disorder, and my question would be how do I know I am healed? I have been consistently on an anti-depressant and seeing a therapist about once a month. You mentioned varying stages of depression and seeing yourself showing signs. How do you not tell yourself, not again? I find it a constant battle at times and hoping I’m not experiencing the symptoms again. Life does throw your some curve balls and having a therapist has worked wonders and I do know that therapists need therapists. As you said you are human. I think it’s wonderful to have a therapist who has experienced first hand the thralls of depression. Although, I don’t wish it upon anyone, it’s comforting to know that a therapist has been there and done that. It makes you relate-able and down to Earth. Well, depression, trying to be funny. Thank you for your candidness and being vulnerable enough to share as I believe it is more empowering than hiding the facts. You have made me undoubtedly know that it’s okay, not to be okay. #YesQueenYes

    • Kewashah Naomi
      12 months ago

      Therapy has made me more self aware and has taught me not only what my limits are but how to recognize when I am approaching them. Though I haven’t had another serious depressive episode, there have been times where I came close. I have truly learned my warning signs and triggers to my depression and am mindful when I see one pop up. It really is okay to not be okay. life is a journey that is filled with mountains and valleys. it’s our job to navigate the hike as best we can. Thank you for sharing.

  • Susan Warren
    12 months ago

    I can all too relate to all of it and I do also agree that some of the ideas we give as therapists are not so practical or easy as we don’t do them ourselves. In my career, I have struggled in many different areas at different times and I can say that there was only 1 therapist out of I don’t know how many I tried that really helped me. So although I have wanted to exercise self-care I have personally not had great experiences with someone who I feel can meet my needs. Maybe I am bias, well I’m pretty sure I am. I have always wanted to have a practice specifically for therapists for this reason but have never gained momentum. Thank you for sharing. BTW Dr. Asha…Your mom is a wonderful therapist and kind person as I had the opportunity to work with her. I was blessed:)

    • Kewashah Naomi
      12 months ago

      Being a therapist that goes to therapy can be difficult. It’s hard to put down the therapeutic hat when you are trying to analyze what theoretical orientation the person trying to treat you is. That was one of the most difficult parts of therapy for me, allowing myself to actually be a client. As for self care, I am still working on being more proactive about that. Thank you for sharing.

    • Ms. Susan!! Thank you so much! I will make sure to share your kind sentiments with her. A practice specifically for therapists (and caring professions) sounds spot on and so necessary.

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