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  • Writer's pictureEvangeline Lawson

When Self-Help Isn’t Enough

Updated: Jan 4, 2021

“I’m actively in therapy for the things that I haven’t gotten closure [on],” says [Tyrese] Gibson. I’m living the life of my dreams, but there’s still some stuff going on in me that nobody in my life could help me get closure [on]. So I’m getting help.” (Ebony Magazine July 2011 issue)

I’ve been there (a few times). In 2007 I was transitioning out of working in corporate America. It was extremely challenging to adjust to my “new lifestyle” and no one around me seemed to get what was going on with me. I didn’t like being in that place but I couldn’t seem to pull myself up off of the couch and shake it off. In struggling with all that I was dealing with, I started to isolate myself in hopes that I could figure some things out, but I had to face the reality that I couldn’t handle these feelings by myself. That was the second time I decided to seek professional help through talk therapy.

As a psychology major in college I had developed a profound level of respect for the field and believed that sometimes professional help was what everyone needed. Sometimes all the self-help books, pep talks with girlfriends and your mama along with hours of prayer, are just not enough. Because I understand what therapy is and how it helps, I have never been ashamed to admit that I am not only an advocate but a participant. However I had to accept that there is a stigma associated with Psychotherapy (especially in the Black community). The challenge though is that emotional trauma along with mental disorders are very real issues that deserve not only attention, but treatment. These issues can range from substance abuse to unresolved parental issues, feelings of abandonment, stress, depression, and ADHD among others.

Here are the facts according to the Center for Disease Control

  1. 1 in 2 Americans has a diagnosable mental disorder each year.

  2. 80-90% of mental disorders are treatable

  3. African-Americans are more likely to experience a mental disorder but less likely to seek treatment (than their white counterparts) and one of the primary reasons is… stigma

In order to live your best life, you cannot afford to carry around emotional baggage. Every time we choose to judge an individual who is getting help or dismiss someone as crazy instead of encouraging them to get help, we are responsible for reinforcing the stigma. I challenge everyone to take stock of your life and urge you to address the issues that may be creating mental and emotional damage. Even if it seems small, anything that is inhibiting you from being the best person you can be, deserves to be addressed. You are worth it!

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