My toes are twitching, my legs are bouncing, and I’m unsuccessfully attempting to distract myself with a book. I can feel the tears building up. My chest is heavy with so much stress, guilt, pain, and fear. I both look forward to and dread hearing my name called and walking to the room in the back.

Where am I? Therapy. And I am exactly where I need to be. Therapy is saving my life, one session at a time.

You see, I have a pattern of behavior and thinking. I spend weeks and months feeling positive and happy. Even if there are difficult moments, I can remain this way. I can power through anything and manage my panic disorder with relative ease. I think that I am fine.

But it never fails to amaze me how easily the anxiety and depression can and do return.

I tend to put my mental health last on the priority list. There are always more important things to do and worry about. The kids’ needs come first. I have a house and family to provide and care for. I have commitments, obligations, work, errands, practices, games . . . when can I fit in the time for some self-care? Why am I allowed to take time to see a professional to work on my issues when there are so many other things demanding my time and attention?

Yet when my mental health is at its worst, I cannot do any of the things above with success.

In the middle of a panic attack, I can barely breathe, let alone parent. When I’m so anxious that I am terrified to leave my house, those obligations and practices and appointments are missed. If my depression makes me cry all day, I am unable to be wholly present for my family. My mind and body are both suffering; I’m not well. And by ignoring all these symptoms and signs, I am only making it worse. 

When we are sick, we go to a doctor; when my mental health is suffering, I should and need to go to therapy.

It is daunting and a bit scary. I am not used to talking all about myself; I do not love the vulnerability and brutal honesty required for successful therapy. I hate the obligation of it, whether I attend appointments weekly, monthly, or even once a year. I can think of a million others things I could be doing with my time.

But you know what? It works. IT ALWAYS WORKS. 

It is not instantaneous. As the phrase goes: it’s a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time, mountains of effort, tears, and vigilance. But without it, where would I be? My mental health would be worse, and my life would suffer. I cannot always find a way out of the darkness and hopelessness on my own. In order to be a better woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend—I need therapy. I need the tools and help from my wonderful mental health professionals and doctors to guide me and maintain me. Without it, I may not even be here to write these words. 

My guilt about therapy is my issue. Because therapy is saving my life, and anything that can do that is important.

You may also like:

I’m Not a Lazy Mom—I Have Anxiety

Parenting With Mental Illness

My Anxiety Makes Me Feel Like I Fail Over and Over Again

Rachel Carpenter

Rachel is a military spouse and mother to four children. Her family has lived in several states and countries and now calls Hawaii home. She loves reading anything and everything, coffee, spending time with her family, and writing. Rachel writes for her personal blog, aralalcarpenterdaily, and as a contributor for the Military Moms Blog.