I grew up thinking therapy was a taboo subject. Living in an Asian-American household, we never discussed therapy publicly. Matter of fact, we never discussed therapy at all. It was always something for outsiders, not my siblings or me. Therapy was for people with real mental health issues, not that my family believed in those either. There was no way to bring it up without causing an argument and having my parents be distraught that I could even consider therapy, always first to bring up how their parenting had failed me (it had nothing to do with that).
When I came to college, therapy was one of the last things on my mind. I had been convinced that I did not need therapy, that it was just the way life was. Everyone was constantly stressed and felt low, and I believed they just lived that way. Even considering therapy would mean that I was weak. Why could I not just handle my normal emotions and life? There was no need for someone to talk to; I was strong and independent.
After a long talk with a close friend, I realized that therapy was much less daunting than I had thought. People went for all sorts of reasons, and not all of them were extreme. Some just wanted to talk about their life or needed to vent; it didn’t always have to be extreme depression or suicidal thoughts. I learned that stress is only manageable to a certain point and that it also does not need to be handled alone. There is always someone out there that will be willing to help you.
I talked to my doctor the next day and set up a therapy appointment. The process of even signing up had me second-guessing myself: do I really need therapy? As toxic as it was, I truly believed I had to have bigger issues than just the stress of life. When I walked into my therapist’s office the next week, my first thought was to run out. What was I doing here? I was scared to explain what was wrong because I believed there was no solution.
However, I am extremely glad I stuck with it. It felt like a conversation with one of my friends, with no judgment or expectation to act a certain way. She sat down and listened and gave me simple advice, ways to change my mindset, and ways to have a better outlet to handle stress. It was not as complicated as I was expecting, yet I felt a hundred times better afterward. The conversation lasted about 30 minutes and I felt extremely light when I walked out the door.
To anyone out there even remotely considering therapy: go for it! It does not have to be daunting or something to be scared of; it is simply someone who will talk to you and who wants to help. They are a resource, and nothing has to be “wrong” to consider therapy. It is simply self-help, and at the end of the day, you’ll be glad you did it. The website for counseling services on campus is https://shcs.ucdavis.edu/services/counseling-services.