Joe felt confused and ashamed the first time that he sought professional counseling. He believed “I should be able to handle this on my own” and “what will people think if they find out?” Joe really didn’t think that he needed a counselor and had been reluctant to seek help in the first place.
Joe had struggled for many years with feeling sad and depressed. Sometimes, he had trouble going to work because of his apathy. Joe’s depression led to troubles at home and in his marriage. He often found it hard to just get the energy to go to work let alone help out at home. Joe’s wife, Carol, would become frustrated and argue with him about his lack of participation in the household, the kid’s life and so forth. Joe wouldn’t respond. Instead, he would just retreat into the bedroom where he would stay for days — sometimes not even coming out to eat or bathe.
Joe suspected that he might suffer from depression. But to him, depression is a weakness. Joe convinced himself that he didn’t need help. Unfortunately, Joe’s depression doesn’t just affect him. It also affected his wife. The stress of dealing with Joe’s constant sadness, irritation and withdrawal were starting to cause her to doubt her marriage. So, Carol issued an ultimatum — seek help or get a divorce. She felt this was the most God-honoring thing for her to do.
Finally, Joe had hit rock bottom. He decided at this point to get help from a counselor. It took several years of commitment to his own well-being and therapy, but Joe finally recovered. Although the depression did return at times, Joe had learned to identify the warning signs and utilize coping and self-care skills to ward off the most serious symptoms.
Everyone has struggled in life. Nearly anyone can benefit from counseling from time to time to deal with life’s difficulties. Although it is not easy, counseling can bring tremendous healing and relief. It is one of the ways that God helps us help ourselves.
Do you believe that you might benefit from counseling but are reluctant to get help? Here are 3 myths that often stand in the way of getting counseling. If you believe these myths, it is time to let them go.
#1 A Strong Christian Doesn’t Need Therapy
A strong Christian faith will not necessarily help you overcome mental health challenges. Many mental health problems are chronic illnesses. They cannot be overcome by just practicing your faith. If you were suffering from a stroke or heart attack, you would likely call 911 for help. No matter how strong your faith is, you would still seek medical attention. In the same way that you would need to be rushed to the hospital if you were having a heart attack, you would also seek help from a mental health professional if you were to suffer from a severe depression or some other mental health problem.
#2: I Can just Talk to My Friends
It does make sense to talk to close family and friends about your problems. They know you well. You are comfortable opening up to them. So, why do you need a counselor when you can just talk to someone that you already know and trust?
Counseling is much more than just talking. Talking is just the surface of therapy. Therapists are trained professionals. They are educated to look well below the surface. A therapist can identify problematic patterns in thoughts and behavior that your family and friends would likely not even notice. A therapist can also help you develop coping and emotional skills to overcome difficulties in your life. Your family and friends are probably not trained to teach others how to cope with difficult emotions and situations.
#3 People Will Know All of My Problems
Many people worry about telling a therapist their innermost thoughts and feelings.
It is normal to feel anxious about having your private information shared with others. However, therapy is completely private. Therapists are bound by strict federal privacy laws. They cannot disclose information about your treatment with anyone unless you sign a written release for them to do so. So, the only way that people will know that you attend therapy is if you tell them. Your therapist won’t share that information with anyone.
With these myths in mind, all Christians living with depression are encouraged, of course, to pray and communicate with God as often as they can. However, they are also encouraged to seek professional guidance as well.
~ 1776 Christian