At this time of the year, many individuals are experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a form of depression that happens when seasons change, and there is less daylight. Besides depression, other symptoms can include issues with sleeping, low energy, and difficulty concentrating. When anyone experiences depression or mood disorders, it is important to understand that therapy can help resolve depression and disorders.
Some people do not see therapy as something positive and may think that reaching out for help, in general, is a sign of weakness. When you get help for anything that you are going through, it is not a form of weakness -- it is actually a show of strength, and you are saying to yourself and others that it is okay to get help when needed. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
The following is a blog post (originally posted on June 22, 2020) that I wrote for The Rey of Light Mental Wellness Services, Mental Health Corner Blog, in which its owner, Monisha Rey, MSW, provides therapy for individuals to "create normalcy around mental health in the Black community."
PHOTO CREDIT: Amiyn Ezact Eads @ezact7 on Instagram
I remember it like it was yesterday. In 2001, I was a wife, had two young children, worked a full-time job, was a member of several boards at my church, and tried to be everything to everybody at any given time. I hit the wall and did not know why I felt like I had run out of steam – completely exhausted from everyday life, was my guess. Sure, I could talk with my girlfriends and family members if necessary. No one thought anything was wrong with me. From the way I looked, it appeared that things were good.
I always kept a smile on my face, as my grandmother told me to do. From all accounts, my life seemed pretty normal. God blessed me with a beautiful family, a lovely place to live, a nice car to drive, and my career was going in the right direction. So, what was the problem? I questioned if it was alright for me to feel discontent. Did I have the right to feel the way I was feeling? My biggest concern was why was I feeling discontent and what could I do to stop feeling that way. I had feelings of anxiety, moodiness, anguish, exhaustion, and despair and didn’t understand why. “God only knows,” I thought to myself.
One day while at work, I received a newsletter in my email from a department in my university called the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). I was intrigued by it and did not consider it junk like so many other communications that I receive via email. When I opened the email, the information jumped from the screen into my spirit. The EAP newsletter directed any university employee to contact them to talk to any of the therapists about things that concerned us. They were open to speaking about personal and work-related situations. “We are here for you if you need us. Contact us anytime,” was the sentiment. I usually don’t act too fast when it comes to certain things, but I needed to talk to someone who could walk me through why I was feeling the way I was feeling. I wrote the number down and called. When I made the call and scheduled an appointment, a heaviness lifted off me. I felt relieved. Don’t get me wrong, I was still nervous about the appointment, but knowing that there was a potential answer to my “why” made me feel better.
When I arrived at my appointment, another layer of heaviness lifted off me. I hoped that would be the day that I got some answers. I was still nervous but felt less anguish. I sat in the waiting room until my therapist was ready to see me. When the receptionist called my name, I went into my therapist’s office. As soon as I walked in and she said, “hello,” I burst into tears. I did not know what had come over me, but I felt instant relief. I apologized to her, and she said, “Don’t apologize. It’s perfectly fine to shed tears, and there’s nothing wrong with that.” At that moment, I knew everything was going to be alright. I connected myself with someone who cared about me and was there to help unpack all the issues I carried into her office.
I learned a lot about myself during our therapy sessions. I realized that I took on a lot and rarely said no to people. I realized that I worked hard to accomplish things, which started to take a physical toll on me. I realized that I did not have to be everything to everybody. I realized that if someone hurt me, it was okay to let them know how I felt. I realized that I was important and began to love myself once again. I realized it was okay to talk to someone outside of the family circle. During my sessions, I thought it was strange that many Black people see therapy as taboo. I learned that it’s perfectly fine to talk to a therapist about anything you’re going through. Therapists give you an unbiased/impartial perspective, and you can speak about any issue you desire. Therapists equip you with tools and information about how to deal with and tackle any and every problem that you could imagine. Therapists are encouraging, warm, kind and give you peace of mind as they help you peel back layers upon layers of issues holding you back from your best self.
Many people say, “I don’t need therapy. There’s nothing wrong with me.” Well, I’m here to tell you that my life is much better because I followed God’s message to me that day in 2001. I saw the EAP email, scheduled an appointment, and talked to a stranger who gave me more insight than I could have imagined. I feel lighter and able to conquer anything that comes my way since thanks to my therapist. She opened my eyes to a world that is beneficial to all of us.
Live, laugh, love, and pray.
God Bless You with Good Health and Wellness,
Antoinette Shar’ron Johnson
“Empowering, inspiring, motivating, and uplifting your mind, body, and soul!”