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Investing in yourself

By McKenzie Ward

So 2020 was my year of “What else could possibly go wrong?” and I swear God gave me another six traumatic events and simply told me, “Deal with it.”

By October, I was mentally drained. For the first time in my life, I felt physically empty. It felt like someone had removed any of the happiness inside me and just left my body to be filled with emptiness. I could feel myself slowly lose any passion and love I had for life.

I was constantly asking myself, “What’s the point?”

It was then that I decided I couldn’t handle my sadness alone anymore and decided to reach out to the Framingham State Counseling Center. Within a few hours, I had my first appointment booked. After I received my confirmation email for my first appointment, I was filled with dread.

What was so wrong with me that I needed to seek counseling?

I’m not going to lie – I was so nervous for my first appointment I was physically ill. I logged onto the Zoom call 10 minutes before my appointment contemplating whether to stay signed on. When my counselor logged on and introduced themselves, I kept saying to myself, “Click ‘Leave.’ You don’t deserve or need help.”

I am so grateful that I did not let those intrusive thoughts tear me away from helping me find myself again.

For the past four months, I have continued to see a counselor – now on a bi-weekly basis. The hour I spend with my counselor provides me with the support I need in order to properly process the trauma I experienced not only during 2020, but throughout my life.

I had spent years of my life prior to seeking counseling writing off therapy as something that I would never need. I thought that if I needed to seek therapy, there must be something wrong with me.

In society, there is a dangerous stigma that therapy is only for those who are weak and cannot handle things independently. In some families, talk of mental health and counseling are often only mentioned in hushed tones and sometimes not even talked about at all.

But in all honesty, I think everyone needs to seek a counselor even if you don’t think you need to. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five U.S. adults lives with mental illness, and young adults aged 18 to 25 had the highest presence of mental illness in 2019.

This stigma – that therapy is only for those who are weak – could not be further from the truth. In fact, therapy provides people with knowledge on how to process prior trauma while also teaching them how to handle the future curve balls life will throw at them.

As a society, we must normalize going to therapy. We need to stop acting as if asking for help is a bad thing when we all could use a shoulder to lean on at the end of the day – especially after 2020.

Four months later, and I am done apologizing for needing to seek counseling. I no longer treat the words “therapy” or “counseling” as dirty words. I refuse to apologize for using a service that has made me a happier and more stable individual. And I refuse to be ashamed of needing support.

We all need to start prioritizing ourselves and showing our mind and body self-love. Seeking counseling is an investment that everyone should make.

If you are interested in seeking counseling, it is easy to email or call the Framingham State Counseling Center to schedule an appointment. Services provided by the Counseling Center are free to all matriculated FSU students.

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