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Ending the stigma associated with therapy and counseling

Ending+the+stigma+associated+with+therapy+and+counseling

I was lost and no one was there to understand what I was going through. No one knew about those nights when I cried alone in my car; nor did they know that my stress was destroying my physical and mental health.

I was having the biggest mental breakdown of my entire life,  and I was  crying so much for so many days that I felt quitting was the best option. I was going through depression once again in my life, and I had no idea what to do. 

Everything that I was doing was wrong and bad stuff happened to me without a reason. I had no time to sleep or finish my homework, family fights were happening and my mom, who died 14 years ago, was always on my mind making me cry even more.

I had to face the fact that I needed help. I needed to break the stigma that I had toward going to therapy.

But it was not easy, when I was about to open the door to the counseling center at UTEP, I started crying. People were looking at me as if I was crazy. I had a stress attack, and I couldn’t open that door because I felt ashamed and weak.

With tears running down my face, I left the building, but midway down the stairs I stopped. I decided to open the door and talk about my problems with someone who would be unbiased. It’s been two months since my first visit and I have to say it has been a life-changing experience.

I have learned that I’m not a weak person, I’m capable of overcoming everything that I’m experiencing. I’ve learned that crying is perfectly fine and that I shouldn’t be ashamed by it. I got to know myself better, I finally understood who I was and who I could become in the future.

Counseling allowed me to recognized my fears, goals, mistakes and skills. I was finally in contact with my emotions.

But I want to end the stigma and the stereotypes that people have toward people like me.

I’m not crazy dude, I’m not on medication, therapy does not consist of talking about my childhood, and yes my family does love me and my friends support me all the time.

Is counseling for weak people? No it’s not. Is counseling just for people with depression? No.

Why do people keep on believing the stereotypes that you see on television?  Why see us as crazy lunatics who need medication to overcome our personal problems?

People who visit a therapist are not weak. Deciding to see a therapist is a courageous act and you shouldn’t judge anyone’s decision. People who go to therapy have a lot of courage because counseling means exposing yourself to a stranger and expressing your deepest problems, emotions and thoughts.

Don’t treat us differently just because we’re seeing a therapist. I’m just a guy who is trying to do better in school and in life, and I’m sure that is the case in many other people around you. Don’t be afraid of having a conversation with us, don’t make us feel different, because if you do avoid us, you’re just contributing to the stigma that already exists. We’re not going to harm anyone. We can actually be very helpful because we understand how difficult life can be.

Your counselor will never fix your problems. It will always be up to you to do better. He or she will respect your thoughts, decisions, mistakes and efforts. You don’t have to fake who you are while you’re in counseling. There is no necessity for masks during your visit. Being in counseling can help you be in contact with yourself, it can be a tool that helps you be aware of your feelings. It can teach you that what you feel is perfectly okay and that you shouldn’t be ashamed because of it.

I accept that there are bad counselors out there, but if you have a bad experience, don’t be afraid of trying again. I know it can be difficult, but always remember to have this as an option that can help you out.

I don’t intend to say that all people have to visit or need a counselor.  But if you feel pinned down in a corner, you should look for healthy and positive ways in which you can benefit.

I know how it feels to be alone. I understand your anger, sadness, frustration and fear, but please do not give up. I believe in you. I know you’re capable of doing great things with your life, I know it sucks to be in your shoes right now, but don’t be afraid of opening your emotions to a stranger. Don’t let yourself down, if counseling is not for you talk to people who you believe will help you.

You’re not weak, you’re not crazy, you’re not awkward. You are just going through a difficult time.

If you ever need someone to talk to or need to set an appointment visit the University Counseling Center at located at room 205 on Union West or at 747-5302.

Rene Delgadillo may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Rene Delgadillo, Multimedia Editor
 
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    ErikaNov 8, 2016 at 4:36 PM

    Rene, while I applaud your efforts to decrease the stigma associated with those who seek assistance through counseling, I worry that you are simultaneously perpetuating stigmas associated with mental illness. Not all people who need medication for mental illness are “crazy lunatics”.

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Ending the stigma associated with therapy and counseling