Connect Issues Winter 2022

CONSIDERING THERAPY? By Ennis Bashe Struggling with how you feel about your diagnosis of Marfan syndrome, VEDS, or Loeys-Dietz syndrome or the many ways it impacts your life? Are you considering making an appointment with a mental health profession- al, but the concept worries you? Maybe you’ve seen ther- apy portrayed negatively on TV. We've highlighted some common myths and truths to help you decide if meeting with a mental health professional is right for you. MYTH: A therapist won’t be able to help me because I’ll still have the same issues in my life. ★ TRUTH: A therapist can’t change your reality, but they can help you to better cope with the challenges you’re facing. The right therapist will understand that your issues are real and help you sort through your thoughts and feelings about them. You’ll be heard and understood no matter what you’re dealing with. A therapist will also help you discover ways to take care of yourself while coping with your struggles. MYTH: I don’t need therapy because I have people in my life I can talk to. ★ TRUTH: You might wonder, “Why should I pay some- one to listen to me? I have friends and family around me, as well as people in the Marfan community. Even if they’re dealing with their own problems, I still feel supported.” Connecting with loved ones is important to your mental health, and reaching out to friends and com- munity members is an important facet of life. However, mental health professionals do more than just listen and provide support. They bring a di ff erent perspective and help you look at things in new ways, and they can sug- gest ways for you to cope. Scheduling a therapy session provides you with time to focus solely on yourself, with a non-judgmental, non-biased person trained to help. MYTH: I don't need to see a therapist. I'm not crazy, and there's nothing really wrong with me. ★ TRUTH: There's no such thing as "crazy" and you don't need to have a mental illness diagnosis to see a therapist. If you're one of the millions of people who experience emotional or mental distress that impacts your overall well-being and quality of life, then a therapist can help you. There may be times when it's harder for you to cope with life's stressors, how you think or feel about yourself, and how you interact with others and the world around you. That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you. It simply means you're human. Sometimes seeking therapy is viewed as a sign

of weakness. However, it takes strength and courage to admit you’re struggling and reach out. You check in with your doctors if you’re having trouble with symptom management, so why not care for your mind the way you care for your body? You deserve to feel better! MYTH: A therapist will just force me to go to the hospital if I voice what I’m really feeling. ★ TRUTH: Living with a chronic medical condition has its challenges. You might feel anxious, depressed, or even hopeless. Maybe you’ve even contemplated suicide. It’s normal to deal with these struggles, and you don’t need to su ff er alone. Ignoring these feelings or attempting to bury them will never make them go away. Being open and honest about your thoughts and feelings with a therapist will only help you. Yes, there are times when the hospital is considered if a person is truly in danger of harming themselves or others, but a therapist's goal is to keep people out of the hospital. You'd be surprised at just how much better you feel by voicing your true thoughts and feelings. MYTH: A therapist won’t understand me. They've never walked in my shoes. ★ TRUTH: It’s normal to be concerned that your thera- pist won’t understand you. However, it’s possible to find a therapist who’s from your culture or background so that you can focus on getting treatment, instead of hav- ing to explain discrimination that you face. You can feel seen and heard – the right therapist for you is out there. MYTH: A therapist will force me to talk about all the darkest, most secret things in my life right away. ★ TRUTH: An important part of therapy is building trust naturally. A good therapist will follow your pace. You don’t need to reveal anything that makes you uncomfortable, and you can wait until you’re ready to bring up painful topics. A therapist will also give you tools to help you feel calm and stay in the moment, making it easier to discuss those subjects. You don’t have to discuss anything before you feel ready. MYTH: It’s normal to feel unhappy. ★ TRUTH: No one’s life is perfect, you might tell yourself. Maybe your inner monologue says that other people have it worse, so you should stop complaining and work harder to keep smiling. The truth is that you are worthy of feeling better. You deserve to get help. Feeling sad is a normal emotion, but if you've been experiencing more sadness than joy in your life, you might want to consider seeking professional help. A therapist can help you to move forward in a more satisfying way.

Ennis Rook Bashe is a graduate student in their final year at New York University’s Silver School of Social Work who is currently interning with The Marfan Foundation. They live with hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and a very loud cat.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK (8255) or text the Crisis Text Line at HELLO (741741) . Both services are confidential, free, and available 24/7.


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