This morning, HealthyWay’s video content strategist reached out to a group of ladies at HealthyWay HQ to ask if we could participate in a video shoot to promote our new community, the HealthyWay Collective. Am I available? Yes, and I also know the team produces gorgeous, attention-grabbing videos on sets that have a reputation for being super fun.
That said, I declined in the group message, explaining that I’m having a really hard time seeing myself on film right now. In fact, a few months ago when I saw a picture of myself in a HealthyWay IG story, I wound up lying in bed crying about it until I dozed off. I hated the way I looked and couldn’t wait for the story to expire. Thinking about having a GIF, or any picture of myself, for that matter, up on the whimsical (and wonderful!) About Us page was making me feel sick and keeping me up at night. I ultimately opted out and am using a selfie from two summers ago as my headshot. I don’t hate every picture of myself, but I can find something wrong with most of them, and yes, shying away from the camera, disliking outfit after outfit on many mornings, and feeling not sexy much of the time is taking a toll on my mental health and well-being.
Fessing up to the situation in my therapist’s office and stomaching the shock of hearing, “That’s some serious body dysmorphia,” from someone I’ve been working with closely for over a year was hard. It felt like hearing, “Oh? One more thing that’s wrong with you!” But at the same time, it brought the gravity of my experience into focus and gave me the courage to tell my co-workers why I wouldn’t be at the video shoot rather than B.S.ing a reason why I couldn’t participate or just saying “no thanks” and leaving everyone wondering (i.e., contributing to the radio silence about about mental health that leaves so many of us feeling stigmatized when our needs and experiences come to light).
Ironically, while I was processing the fact that I’d just shared something relatively intimate in lieu of a generic, “Yes, I’m available Friday—see you there,” Destiny’s Childs’ Michelle Williams’ post about seeking out therapy was trending, with TMZ, ABC News, and even PEOPLE covering the story.
So, we’re talking about it openly and honestly (even the not-wanting-to-talk part).
This got us talking—not in the “Eek, I just dropped an awkward bomb that might’ve been completely TMI for co-workers” way, but very openly—about our struggles to seek out and keep up with therapy for the sake of our mental health.
“Picking up the phone is hard when you are struggling.”
While I’ve been seeing a therapist regularly and participating in group therapy—which has been truly life-changing for me—for over a year, the experiences of the ladies in the office are just as varied as those of our readers. Our discussion touched on significant challenges, from figuring out where to get started (especially if you’re new in town) to the feeling that our struggles are not “bad enough” to warrant therapy.
And then there’s the challenge of staying in therapy rather than, as one of our editors put it, “ghosting on your therapist for the third time in a row,” which, let’s be honest, is tempting when there are a ton of of other things that need to be done and a pretty good chance that ugly, uncomfortable stuff will come to the fore that we’d rather deal with later—or never.
We realized we’re not alone—and neither are you.
All that said, sharing our experiences like Williams not only helps us get real and heal, but paves the way for others to get the care they need and feel supported even if they haven’t found the sanctuary of the right therapist’s office just yet. As one co-worker put it, “Realizing you’re not alone and figuring out how to get over that hurdle to get yourself into a therapist or psychiatrist are really difficult concepts if you struggle with mental health … Picking up the phone is hard when you are struggling.”
Another shares that realizing you’re not alone was a big factor for her personally and says that she can see how celebrities being open about mental health can be powerful for other women. While money and success don’t guarantee happiness, it is great to see women using their platforms and influence to get conversations about mental health and treatment going.
But what’s next?
We’re asking ourselves how we can continue prioritizing self-care while reaching out to and supporting others. Could online therapy, better understanding the symptoms of panic attacks and depression, or learning new breathing techniques be right for you? Today we’re taking cues from Williams and other celebrities, including office faves Kristen Bell and Lili Reinhart, and working with what we’ve got to get imperative conversations about mental health—and our treatment options—going.