• Tracey N. Bonner

Seek Counseling, You're NOT Crazy

After some of the most recent high profile suicides and overdoses of celebrities like Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, renowned pastor Andrew Stoecklein, and rapper Mac Miller, I have really been in deep thought. I have often wondered what brings people to such a permanent decision? What makes people feel like life isn't quite worth living? Then I remember there have been a couple times in my life where I, too, felt like there was no end to my inner turmoil. Like there was no light at the end of the tunnel and as time went on I would continue to be plagued by unending sadness. And then it hit me like a ton of bricks, I realized that I have been functionally operating in a constant state of depression.

In 2013 I hit rock bottom. I was in a mental space that had me spirally out of control. My career had taken a backseat to my relationship and when that abruptly ended I was completely distraught. I had gone through a depression so dark and so deep that I was forced to make the difficult decision to remove myself from the place that sparked my career and everything I had become. The pain of losing the love of my life made me feel insignificant. I thought, that without him, I couldn't go on. I didn't see a reason to get up every day. I would only muster enough strength to take a bath and brush my teeth then back in bed I went. There was an emptiness inside of me that no one or no thing could fill and I felt my only resolution was to end it all. But what was a person like me doing in such a dark place? Unlike most people dealing with depression, I had all the love and support one could ask for. However, my friends words of comfort fell on deaf ears and my parents attempts to "fix it" gave me temporary solace. So what was so bad that made me feel like I didn't want to live through another day? See, I was raised to believe in the power of prayer. If you pray without ceasing your problems will eventually come to an end. But as I was going through this time of rejection the last thing I wanted to hear was "pray". I WAS praying and after every prayer I would feel even more despair and this despair caused me to become angry, bitter. Angry with God, angry with those around me, but more importantly I was angry with myself. All I wanted to do was hide under the covers until I died. Yes I said it...I would rather face death than get up and face life and all its challenges, disappointments, and roller-coaster highs and definite lows. I had thoughts swirling in my head that I just couldn't make sense of. I didn’t know whether I was coming or going. I couldn't see the forest for the trees. I literally could NOT see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I spent months in this sunken place. I wasn't taking proper care of myself and had lost a lot of weight. I was dwindling down to nothing and I didn't care. But one day I woke up and had this insatiable urge to workout. I went to the gym and as I was walking towards the weight room I saw a rock wall. Every time I passed this wall, in the past, I would say that one day I would climb to the top. And this day happened to be the day. I climbed to the top on my very first try. It gave me a sense of accomplishment, something I hadn't felt in a long time. I thought, "If I could do this on my first try then what else could I accomplish?". I told my parents about my very small feat and they were so happy for me. They said that if I could talk myself into doing such an awesome thing then maybe I could talk myself out of this depression. And after a few conversations with them they convinced me to seek the help of a professional. It was a very difficult decision to make because who wants to be thought of as being crazy, right? At least that's the stigma that comes with seeking professional help. But after seeing someone, on a consistent basis, it helped me to realize that it wasn't just helpful but necessary. Necessary for my survival. My life depended on it!

Over the years, I've dealt with bouts of depression but I'm no longer afraid to seek the counsel of a therapist. I now have more tools to help me cope rather than considering a more devastating and permanent solution to my very temporary problem. And by devastating I don't just mean suicide. A lot of people choose to cope by cutting themselves, causing bodily harm to others, through alcohol and substance abuse, and other behaviors that may have long term, negative effects. These all cause permanent scars to our bodies, as well as our minds. By choosing to speak to someone, you are acknowledging that you are not in a place to go through your depression alone and are willing to find a more positive coping mechanism. It is my desire to destigmatize what it means to be in therapy and encourage you to consider it as an option towards your personal healing. Below are three benefits of counseling that have helped towards my personal growth and healing and I hope you find them to be helpful in your quest for healing, as well! And as always, remember to DateYourselfGirl!!!

Three Benefits of Counseling:

1. Identify & Express: Counseling helps me to identify the root of my issues. I am able to honestly speak about the events from my past, that have led to my depression. I've found a sense of freedom to express my feelings without feeling judged or criticized. By doing so, I'm less guarded and more reluctant to become isolated.

2. Resolve: Counseling gives me some tools to be able to communicate without using anger or frustration. It helps me identify a healthy solution to coping with a problem. Talking through my issues help me to release the negativity as opposed to holding on to it and allowing it to fester.

3. Growth: Counseling has helped me become more self-aware. I now have a deeper understanding of who I am, what my strengths and weaknesses are, and how I can positively impact others. My self awareness has empowered me to become a woman of stronger moral compass. It's deepened my love for self, which deepens my love for others. It has helped me to positively redefine my life's purpose and it can do the same for you, IF you give it a chance.

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