The struggles of admitting a mental health problem

Jack Stashower

More stories from Jack Stashower

The J&J Show: Episode 1
September 21, 2022

Photo courtesy of Flickr

As mental health awareness month begins, students recount the struggle of admitting they have a mental health problem.

I found out in 2020 that healthcare providers do not prioritize mental health to the same extent as physical injuries. My family watched me deteriorate every day as I waded further into a tsunami of depression and wasn’t offered a lifejacket. I finally admitted to my parents that I needed help through an emotional conversation. I hated every minute of it, seeing my parents’ faces drop-down like it was their fault I was battling depression. I am not writing this to shame my friends or parents for lack of support, that’s not what happened at all. The problem is that when I needed professional help, it wasn’t given to me.

I started the search for a therapist in July 2020. I wasn’t able to start meetings until September. I vividly remember those three months to be some of the worst days of my life. I lost my appetite and started losing weight. I struggled with friendships because I kept losing my temper. I’d become forgetful. I had no one to talk to while I was fighting for my sanity because my healthcare provider brushed me off as an afterthought. I love my friends and family, but using them as an outlet to discuss my problems was not working. I would have these hour-long conversations with my parents that would end in tears. One week in I knew I couldn’t do this for three months. I needed something.

While physical injuries can be immediately treated at a hospital, mental health does not have an alternative. While I was waiting for a therapist, my parents signed me up for this program called Talkspace. Talkspace allows users to text a therapist 24/7 depending on the payment plan. The therapist only replies a certain number of times a day based on how much you pay them. I started the search for a therapist using their match finder tool and found three instant matches. Turns out none of them worked at Talkspace. I’d wait days for a response and find out that they had given up medical practice years ago. This happened a few times before I finally matched with someone who worked under Talkspace, but it still wasn’t great. Talking to a therapist on Talkspace is like a race against time. I’d spill my thoughts and feelings into these texts and receive a, “Do you want to talk about it?” text hours later after a mental breakdown. Then I had to wait another 24 hours for a response. It’s a very good program in theory, but I didn’t end up establishing a relationship with my therapist because of the limitations of my payment plan. I never had a full conversation with my therapist in the three months I used Talkspace. I don’t even remember her name.

But if I’ve learned anything from those three months, it’s that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I started talking to my therapist in September and immediately noticed changes. I gained more confidence and I started going out more. I was able to slow down and process my thoughts. I finally felt good about myself as a person again. I didn’t need to use my friends or family as an outlet, I could talk to a professional therapist instead. Instead of texts, I was able to interact with another person for an hour a week. I’ve been able to establish a personal relationship with both my therapist and medication provider. It’s hard to admit a problem, but I still think to this day of where I’d be now if I didn’t ask for help.