I’m going to start this post with what I’m about to say it’s going to be an extremely unpopular opinion for a lot of people out there. The funny thing about unpopular opinions is that they are often unpopular because within them hides that small grain of truth most of us don’t want to face because it might “upset us”.
So what is that unpopular opinion I have? And here it is, I really dislike the advice we all hear:
“You should seek professional help”
I watch a lot of YouTube. I read a lot of books and definitely a lot of other blogs. One of the more common topics that’s gained a lot of attention in recent years has been the topic of depression and anxiety.
People often post extremely vulnerable videos of themselves talking and sharing their experiences, or their family’s experiences, even their friends’ experiences in their fight against depression and mental illness, and I get it. It’s a TOUGH subject, especially when the subject is about ourselves or those close to us.
We don’t like to feel vulnerable, at least not most of us, and when we do, we feel as if we’re putting the ugly parts of us out there for the world to see and hoping they accept us, but even more, learn from us.
I think the hopes in us sharing our dark and emotional stories are so people won’t have to go through the same hell we went through. We don’t want others to feel so broken and lost as we did, so we share with them our lives, our stories.
And still, I get it, you can’t help each individual person out there that watches your YouTube video or reads your blog. So you tell them:
You should seek professional help
What bothers me the most about this statement is at face value it seems so genuine and thoughtful, and that’s because I think it really is. But at the same time, I can’t help but feel it’s just a cop out; the thing you say when you don’t know what to say.
And I know that’s not the intention when people say this.
I think it comes from the fact that because I’ve watched probably hundreds of videos, read hundreds of articles, and a decent number of books, that at some point in the video, the blog post, or the book, they say “You should seek professional help”.
It’s said so much these days, it’s almost become a cliche. It feels overused, so much so, we just expect them to throw it in at the end of the video, or the post, and if they don’t it seems off. And I think a lot of have become numb to the words, too.
It’s kind of like this. Say you have an old beat down car. It breaks down once a month like clockwork, but you’ve always been able to get it back up and running. It’s not the most reliable car, but it’s all you have. You’re working 2 jobs just to make ends meets, and some weeks you barely have enough to eat.
Then your friend comes along. He tells you that he was in a similar situation. His car was old like yours. It broke down every month, and it just felt like he was always throwing money at it. So at the end of all of that he tells you, “You should just get a new car”.
I don’t know about you, but if someone said that to me in that situation, part of me would just want to punch him in the face right there, because it’s almost insulting.
It’s not like he had any mal-intentions in saying that, because he really does mean it: buying a new car would fix your all your car problems. Simple right?
The thing is, like the advice of “You should seek professional help”, it’s not always a viable option given the circumstances you’re in right now, though it might be the best one. Unfortunately, we’re not always fortunate enough to choose the “best” option.
Your circumstances might not allow you to just call up a therapist and begin going to sessions next week for the next 8-12 months.
It might be money, because let’s face it, therapy can be expensive. Not all of us are in a place financially to afford to not only paying for a therapist, but more than likely, missing work to be able to attend.
But say money isn’t an issue, maybe you’re just not in the right place mentally. Maybe you’re not ready to talk to a stranger about your problems, even if that stranger is a licensed professional.
Maybe the thought of “going to therapy” has a bad taste in your mouth because if we’re honest, there still is a bit of a stigma of the idea of “having a therapist”.
What it all comes down to is this: You’re not ready to seek professional help. So you don’t.
And when all those YouTubers, bloggers, and authors so casually say “You should seek professional help” all you do is dismiss their advice and ultimately, try to find a different answer, even if you have no idea what the answer is.
And maybe I’m gonna be a bit hypocritical here, because to be honest, I don’t know what the answer is either. I just know “seeking professional help” isn’t the answer I’m looking for.
I think what I’m looking for is this.
I want someone to share their stories with me; to be vulnerable, and to let me see the parts of them they tried to hide away. Then, in that same act of vulnerability, I realize that the people around me or even across the world, they share the same deep fears and insecurities I have, as well.
But ultimately, I realize that no matter who we are, and where we come from, we all have the same problems, that, being broken and feeling as if we’re not good enough, it’s a part of being human.
That still doesn’t mean there’s nothing wrong with me, because there is.
And if you were to come along and tell me, “you’re just fine the way you are”, IT DOESN’T MAKE ME FEEL BETTER.
Because if there was “nothing wrong with me” then why would I feel the way I do?
The real answer here, I think, is rather than telling us “you’re fine the way you are” or even the (almost) cliched “you should seek professional help”, maybe should just listen to us.
Maybe all we need is for someone to listen, to hear us rant and ramble on, and then, to let us know, even with all of our imperfections, we can still become a better people. Even if the first step is as simple as cleaning your room (little nod to Jordan Peterson).
In the end, maybe we don’t need people to tell us what we want to hear, but rather, here what we have to say, then, to encourage us to step forward and take responsibility. And that’s encouraging, to know we have it within ourselves to make our lives better, and more importantly, it was always there to begin with.
And who knows, maybe if we sought out professional help, they would have told us the same exact thing, but what if we just needed to hear it most from the people closest to us instead?
thanks for reading,