Why don’t I just get that therapist for myself? Why am I wasting society’s money and resources? Why am I even publishing this? Why should anyone be interested in read about how I’ve failed? Why am I crying again? This is not a 5why analysis. This is the story of my therapy application process, because in spite of everything I’m also #HelpWorthy.
I have been depressed for more than half of my life. At first, I thought it was just some kind of teenage angst, but little by little I realized that my nasty thoughts and feelings weren’t “just part of normal youth”. I filled the BDI-21 depression test for the first time in the 7th grade, after which the school curator asked me to come to her reception. We met a couple of times and talked about this and that, but it never went further than that. Now, more than ten years later, I cannot help thinking what my life would have been like if I had already been guided to the right help at that time.
I graduated from elementary school with reasonable grades and studied at a local vocational school. I had few friends and I started to be afraid of social situations, which wasn’t particularly helpful for building new relationships. The school went otherwise well, even though going there distressed me every morning and I was often late for classes because of that. Before the winter holidays, I realized by myself that my bad feeling was no longer normal, so I turned to the school curators again: a friendly woman promised to get me a referral to a psychologist, but since she herself was just about to go on vacation, her substitute would handle it as soon as school resumed in January. It took half a year before the new curator finally agreed to write me a statement and I got to talk to the professional. Unfortunately, I was still young and stupid at the time: I found a boyfriend, and life, in general, seemed to go smoothly, so I decided to stop the therapy.
There have been lots of nice things in my adult life, and at times I even forget my bad feelings, but time and again it has always managed to sneak back. It also happened one beautiful summer day: after that, my friends forced me to get help. I was working for a big company at the time, so luckily getting help through occupational health was easy and some of the expensive reception visits were reimbursed. The doctor was a really nice and understanding elderly man who promised to write a referral to Kela to subsidize psychotherapy as soon as I found a therapist for myself. Found. For myself. As you might guess, I couldn’t find a therapist for myself despite several emails. However, I got antidepressants and everyday life started to get easier, so the search for a therapist ended.
Since then, the hunting process has begun twice again, but even today I have not been able to find a suitable therapist for myself who has the opportunity to take on new clients. Even though I know I’m sick and need professional help, finding one isn’t always easy. Some days it feels like even if I managed to find a therapist for myself, I would still take a place from someone who needed it more, while sometimes I’m so down I feel I don’t even deserve to get better.
I think it is outrageous how difficult it is to get help in a welfare state like Finland. The “therapy guarantee” citizens’ initiative was sent to the Parliament in the autumn of 2019, and this spring the citizens’ initiative to make psychotherapy training free of charge is progressing to the Parliament. Both things are really great, but are citizens’ initiatives really needed to make people’s mental well-being as important as any other kind of health?
I remember when I thought a few years ago that I would never dare to apply for any postgraduate studies because I would not have the strength for it. Here I am, however: 182 credits on the placard and a degree ready except for my thesis and internship. I’ve been forced to suspend a few of the courses, but mainly studies have progressed as planned. At first, I felt ashamed that I still have not managed to get a job in my field, despite “the expert shortage”, but now I’ve learned to be merciful to myself. My own mental health and the global pandemic are perfectly valid reasons to take it a bit easier even if graduation takes a little more because of it.
Right now, I’m actually doing pretty well: I have the most wonderful cat in the world, nice people in my life, and the opportunity to do cool stuff for our school students. I wish everyone a nice spring and most importantly: remember that you are also #HelpWorthy!
Participate in the Students’ Mental Health Day campaign on 12–23 April by sharing your own thoughts and experiences on seeking help. Encourage your friends to do so too. By being open you also give others a much-needed space to feel #HelpWorthy.You can find a list of mental health services for students here.