Monday, March 25, 2013

Follow Through

I have a follower who works at a community mental health organization and is a master's of social work candidate from Michigan State University.  This friend asked to share with me and each of you the importance of continuing therapy after an assault, trauma or in instances of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). My friend's hope, like mine, is that by sharing their experiences with you, maybe, just maybe, we can help at least ONE person because EVERY single person is worth helping.  This is what they shared with me and what I would like to pass on to each of you:

When you or I are in pain, or we know that something just isn’t right with our body, we typically visit a doctor or a hospital and get checked out. Sometimes it turns out to be something serious that requires attention. Proper attention is given and, before long, we’re back on our feet again and forging onward as if nothing ever happened.

But what happens when you or I are in pain, or we know that something just isn’t right, when it comes to our mind or with our thinking?

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines the word stigma as “a mark of shame or discredit” or “an identifying mark or characteristic; specifically: a specific diagnostic sign of a disease.”

There is a stigma attached to receiving any sort of counseling or mental health services. Somewhere along the way our societies’ individualistic, Alpha-male, top dog, loner attitude bullshit infiltrated our typical feelings when it comes to self preservation and altered it so that we’re forced to suffer with whatever it is that ails us. Until this stigma can be removed, and society can view a psychologist, social worker, and psychiatrist in the same helpful light as a family doctor, there will continue to be struggle and suffering by those who need help and those already receiving it.

A couple of days ago I was called to assist with the hospitalization of a young woman, age 16. It was her intent on the early morning of March 19th to commit suicide by cutting. Although superficial, there were multiple lacerations on both of her forearms. This was not her first attempt. 2 years earlier she also attempted to asphyxiate herself.

In between her suicide attempts she had been receiving therapy because of past physical and sexual abuse; however, when her therapist relocated, she never followed up with another therapist to continue and complete therapy.

If there is one thing that is just as important as seeking help, it’s finishing with the help that is being received.
Between the time of starting this piece, and Sunday when I sent it to Plucky, another young lady ended up in the emergency room for an overdose of sleeping pills. While she is receiving therapy, there are traumas in her life which she denies or refuses to talk about. This brings up another point of mental health that is important. The amount of information you’re willing to share with your therapist is directly proportionate to the amount of help they’re able to give you.

To put it into another perspective, if you go to your physician and tell them that your arm hurts, but don’t tell them why, it’ll take longer for them to figure out the cause which will delay the time it takes for “the fix”, if you will, to be applied and for you to begin to feel relief from your pain.

If you or someone you know needs help, there are a number of resources available. Please consider the following:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-8255

Neither you, nor your questions, are a burden.

You are not without hope.


  1. I have a problem with following up with therapy. As soon as I feel a little better I immediately think that I do not need therapy which I know is wrong. I do need the help. I am going to reschedule a canceled therapy session tomorrow. Thank you for sharing! <3

  2. I hope you know how proud I am of you that you are able to push forward and be so involved with this after what you have been through.

    This shows what a strong and giving woman you are.