The Truth About Therapy
The older I’m getting, the more importance I’m placing on my mental health. Seeing a therapist can sometimes feel like it carries a stigma with it, but that’s becoming a thing of the past. If our bodies aren’t feeling well, we don’t think twice about going to the doctor, so why would we ever stall if our minds aren’t feeling well?
Why do we worry less about mental health?
I’ll tell you why.
- One, it’s sometimes easier to not deal with what’s causing our anxieties
- And two, there are still some people out there who judge those of us who want to go
- Not to mention, it can be expensive if not covered by insurance
Therapy can feel hard
I’m not gonna lie, sometimes it’s easier to not deal with what causes our anxieties. When I’m already feeling it, that doesn’t necessarily mean I want to talk about it and feel it some more. Therapy is hard work. It’s deep healing. It’s saying things out loud that are sometimes painful. It’s admitting things that are often easier to keep inside. I’ve been in therapy for a year now and am just starting to ‘get it,’ my therapist says. And she’s right.
Highs and lows
I’m not saying this to deter you, I love therapy and I have since my first session. Some of my sessions have had hard moments, yes, but there have also been a lot of breakthroughs, aha moments, and laughing spells as well. It's not all 'difficult,' but it is all worth it.
If I’m being honest, I think that all people would benefit from some sessions with a great therapist. Who doesn’t need someone in their corner guiding them with the sole intent on helping them live life to its fullest?
Moving forward with macular degeneration
Every time I leave therapy I feel stronger. In the moment, sometimes I don’t feel like I’ve made much progress with my anxieties, but then I look back at the last year of ‘work’ and my outlook has changed so much. I will not let macular degeneration steal my joy.
“If you don’t get it off your chest, you’ll never be able to breathe.” -Anonymous
Social stigma of therapy
Growing up, I remember feeling the generalization that therapy is for people who are crazy or unstable and that could not be farther from the truth. The younger generations now have the right idea. They celebrate mental health awareness and therapy. Seeking help needed to live our best lives is definitely something to be celebrated.
Truthfully, it took me until I was a 36-year-old mother, teacher, wife, daughter, and friend coping with vision loss to decide that therapy was going to be a good thing for me. Ummm, HELLO! Can we say anxiety and a general feeling of being overwhelmed? I wish it didn’t take me so long to figure that out.
Judged for going to therapy
I did have some mixed reactions when my ‘people’ found out I was starting therapy. Some encouraged me and helped me feel supported. Others couldn’t understand why I would want to ‘do something like that’ and made their opinions well known. Those people, though certainly not trying to, made me feel pretty bad about wanting to go. I went anyway and I’m glad I did, now I have another person on my team (she's really the captain of my team).
“Be so busy improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others.” -Chetah Bhagat
Therapy and insurance
If paying out of pocket, therapy can cost $100 or more for each hour-long session. If covered by insurance, it can cost your copay if your plan requires one. It’s always a good idea to call ahead and talk to your insurance company to see what benefits are covered under your plan.
What to ask
Here are a few questions to ask your insurance company:
- How many visits are covered by my plan or is there a maximum number of visits? Some insurance companies only allow you to go so many times before you have to start paying out of pocket.
- Is there a maximum number of times I can go? Some insurance companies allow you to go as often as your therapist sees medically necessary, while others only allow you to go a certain number of times, like once a week or once a month.
- What kind of visits are covered? Some insurance companies only allow you to seek therapy for specific things like martial struggles.
- Can I choose any therapist or do I have to stay 'in Network'? Some insurance companies only allow covered benefits for specific therapists.
Therapist vs. psychiatrist
Sometimes the titles are interchanged accidentally, but these mental health professionals are different. A therapist counsels patients and can discuss possible medication with patients, but cannot prescribe any needed medication. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor and can prescribe medication, but doesn’t always counsel patients.
Quick Tip: When finding a therapist, I highly recommend not settling for the first one you go to. Though it may seem like a pain to see a few different mental health professionals, it is well worth it in the end. Therapy works best when you feel safe and not judged or generalized, and when you feel heard and not just ‘listened to.’ This is an important relationship. Possibly one of the most important relationships you can have. If you aren't entirely comfortable with your therapist, you may not be able to be as open and therefore may not get the full benefits of seeking therapy.
Therapy is more than okay
Friends, those of us here struggling with vision loss place a lot of emphasis on eating healthy foods, taking vitamins and supplements, and exercising for optimal eye health...but we must take care of our minds and emotions as well. We must. For some of us, that means seeking professional help and that is more than okay.
Vision loss and eye disease are scary things and rightfully cause worry, anxiety, and depression. These things don’t allow our bodies to be at their healthiest. Healing our minds is part of healing our eyes.
Do you still drive?