I consider myself so lucky to have had the opportunity to connect and create friendships with so many of you over the last few years. We’ve laughed together, vented together, and rolled with life’s many, MANY punches together. Talking and engaging in such great convos with you ladies is hands-down my favorite aspect of The Chutney Life.
Recently, a conversation I seem to be having more frequently is a conversation regarding mental health struggles. (On another sappy side note, I feel so honored that you all trust me enough to be so vulnerable with me! We have this amazing two-way street, and the strength amongst our lil community is unmatched.) I first saw a therapist when I was about two months postpartum and really really felt like crap. I had a lot of guilt from not breastfeeding, anxiety from a baby who cried all the time (Shaan had colic), and overall was feeling the “baby blues.” While I was not diagnosed with postpartum depression or PPD, I knew I didn’t feel like myself, so I decided to seek out a therapist. After an hour of spilling out all my feelings and thoughts, I felt SO SO SO MUCH BETTER. It was cathartic, healing, and I’m so glad I took that step for myself. I hope today’s post gives you the courage to seek out therapy if you feel like it’s right for you, encourage it for someone else, or simply just feel a little more educated about the process.
Also, in a culture that stigmatizes mental illness and deems it a taboo subject, I feel compelled to use my platform to explore this issue and advocate for further awareness and treatment options in our South Asian community. With that said, let’s have a conversation about therapy.
When to Seek Therapy?
First of all, I want to emphasize that considering therapy is not a sign of weakness. Instead, the fact that you want to seek outside help that will ultimately put you on track to be a better version of yourself is a showcase of your strength and determination.
Here are a few signs it’s time to consider therapy:
- You’ve suffered trauma.
- You’ve experienced a loss.
- You’re experiencing more health issues.
- You can’t pinpoint an issue for feeling “out of it.”
- You want to understand yourself better.
How to Find a Therapist?
Receiving counseling is very personal to an individual, so finding that perfect therapist is no easy task. Asking our friends and family seems like the first step in the search. Still, you may find it hard to get solid recommendations because 1) your loved ones may feel uncomfortable potentially sharing the same therapist as you, and 2) their life-changing therapist may not be that life-changing for you, or 3) you’re just not comfortable asking someone you know.
What you can do is conduct a fine-tuned search for therapists in your area via Google or scroll through websites like Psychology Today. By a fine-tuned search, I mean search for “therapists that specialize in marriage counseling” instead of a generic search for “therapists around me.” If you feel comfortable, asking in local Facebook groups you are a part of might also be a good place to ask!
Additionally, seek recommendations from your primary care physician since they can help you to assess your needs. Once you’ve found some leads, start calling around! Make it a point to ask if the therapists will offer you a free consultation via phone or in person. Then, after chatting, if a professional doesn’t seem like a match for you, don’t be shy to ask them for recommendations for someone who may be a better fit to treat you medically. They have a great network of colleagues who specialize in so many different treatments – I’m sure they’ll be happy to re-direct you. Finding a therapist you really vibe with might take a few tries so don’t be discouraged off the bat. Usually, the first appointment is a “get to know me” session so keep that in mind as well. Lastly, a personal piece of advice, be as honest as you can. It can be painful to dig deep but this is the space to do it!
What to Look for in a Therapist?
The first step in finding a therapist is making a mental list of topics you will want to cover in therapy. These topics may range from overcoming anxiety, post-partum depression, grief, stress, relationship, work like, and existential crises. Therapists specialize in treating different mental illnesses, so you want to make sure you search for those experienced in treating what you want to overcome. Once you’ve narrowed this list down, try to envision the type of person you would feel most comfortable opening up to in counseling. Would you want to talk with an older woman? A South-Asian woman your age? A man your age? It’s essential to decide which factors – age, ethnicity, gender, and religion – matter to you most. Read the therapist’s biographies, look at their pictures, learn about their area of expertise, and decide if they are someone you would find yourself relating to before scheduling an initial consultation!
I have curated a list of therapists below which came as personal recommendations from my followers over on @thechutneylife! I’ve organized them by state, to help kick-off your search:
District of Columbia: