Black History Month: Me, Myself & My Therapist (Pt.2)

Family. Friendships. Relationship. Depression. Death. Faith. Career. Future.

This is the long list of issues/topics/themes I brought to my therapist on my first day.

Just looking at it I can only pity him for what he was about to take on.

As I mentioned in “Me, Myself and My Therapist” Pt1, I wanted and needed to go to therapy. I wanted to talk to someone who looked like me. Understood me. Related to me. Lived a somewhat similar life to me and see where I was aiming towards. I contacted Frontline Therapist who put me in touch with a Black Christian married man who identified with my culture and background and my future plans, journey and ideals. This was extremely important to me and something I was not going to deviate from.

Black people carry a lot of daily pressures; systemic, family, economical, academic, social and historical issues, that affect our mental and physical. According to a 2018 House of Commons Briefing Paper, Black people are more likely than average to experience a common mental disorder; like depression and anxiety, panic disorder, phobias, and obsessive compulsive disorder than White people. However, in 2016/17, over 1m White people were referred to a ‘talking therapist’ (i.e. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) compared to 36,000 Black people with only 40% of them finishing the treatment. As you can see there’s a disparity of Black people needing to get help and not actually getting or completing it. It’s not an easy process, with stigma’s still in our community, but with more people being open about their experience and access being more available, the aim is to open up the idea that therapy isn’t a bad thing or for sick people.

There had been issues and experiences that I have faced that have been out of my control. I may have wanted X from someone but all they could offer was Y. This was where I began to learn more about expectations and wants from people, seeing that two people can never be the same. Through therapy I was able to learn mechanisms that could help me understand other people better, how they think and what they do and how that’s not a reflection on me.

My therapist was also able to explain to me where I went wrong in situations. He explained how I should respond going forward in situations and how that would better my mental and emotions. I’m far from perfect. But I do try and am proactive in improving.

I remember one session where I was listing the toxic people and environments I somehow found myself in and he asked me outright, “Why do you keep putting yourself in these toxic situations? Why are you in these places or what do you present that takes you to these places that you want to be noticed yet not getting it?” I was taken aback! Rattled. Floored. But it was a chance to look in the mirror and find out where this stemmed from and why it was a constant scenario in my life. We were able to navigate it and found it stemmed from childhood (like almost everything in our lives).

We were also able to talk about my understanding of why I don’t always receive what I give. Whether it’s different types of relationships or career etc and I was able to learn that people aren’t always intentional or purposeful in their actions or thoughts. This does not mean, however, that they do hurtful things intentionally, it might just not be at the forefront of their mind like it is mine. So, to minimise the hurt I should take people as they are and meet people where they are. I should stay connected with people who share the same intentions as I do rather than yearning for attention from people who aren’t there to give it.

I’ve purposefully keep a lot of my personal story and journey quite surface level, as that’ll be kept for the book, but as you can see our lives are more than just the present. We are shaped by our past, childhood, traumas and experiences. These experiences and feelings are repackaged and presented into something different as we grow up. So we need to tackle it now, prevent any further damage and stop holding onto what we can’t change.

You Get A Therapist. You Get A Therapist. You Get A Therapist.

I don’t think you have to be going through anything traumatic to go speak to a therapist. It could just be about exploring your mind, past and future and speaking to someone who will hold you accountable. If a therapist is too much, then have a close friend, family member, mentor or professional advisor to speak to because I’m sure we all have questions that we would like answered.

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