What came first?

It’s been almost my life long dream to become a mental health clinician. I dreamt of being a psychotherapist for a long time and it was quite a journey to be where I am right now.

Little did I know I myself would be seeking treatment for mental health matters as I was preparing to enter graduate school to become a clinician myself.

What came first?

My depressive episode was triggered past summer while I was doing a research fellowship. I was working on a research project that I always dreamt of and it was exactly what I wanted.

However, the stress and expectation I put on myself was strong enough to trigger an entire episode.

How ironic is it that what I was doing to become a therapist myself brought this upon me?

I’ve come a long way to come to terms with myself to slow down. I am learning to take a deep breath before I make any decisions regarding my future and take more time before making  decisions.

But, I still can’t get the thought of incompetency out of my head.

I know I can be and will be one day – a competent clinician. But also as a HUMAN BEING that suffers from mental health matters, I am scared that I may not be able to.

I wonder days after days WHAT CAME FIRST?

Is it my mental health issues or my dream to be a therapist?

What do you guys think about a therapist treating others as themselves receiving treatment for mental health?

I’d love to hear.

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31 Replies to “What came first?”

  1. I think it was Brené Brown who described having a breakdown and going to a “therapist for therapists.” I’m sure it happens; we’re all human.

    I think the real issue is learning to not internalize. My counselor is present in the session and very engaged, but takes a short break between mine and the next person’s and leaves it all in her office. She does not answer texts after sessions unless necessary. She is very good at boundaries that way.

    So, I’d say to follow your career dreams but ensure you work on that sort of separation technique with the therapist you find for you. 🙂

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  2. I’m a mental health nurse. The onset of my mental illness didn’t come until after I was already a nurse, but it has definitely made me a better clinician.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. First of all hi Haelim.
    I was diagnosed with chronic depression when I was 17 years old.
    I’ve to take daily medication for the rest of my life and have to go to my psychiatrist whenever I’m in my darkest moments once I’m unable to get out of them by myself.
    My psychiatrist is the same since I was diagnosed so basically he knows me inside out.
    Until recently I didn´t know he himself had already suffered from depression. When he told me he made me realise why he always seemed to really understand my words and feelings.
    Unfortunately, from my experience, I’ve realised that for you to truly understand depression you have to have lived it. Otherwise you’re only able to know what others (who have it) let you see or tell you about. (don’t know if you agree with my point of view).
    To sum this up I just want to tell that a therapist who truly knows what your dealing with can help you far beyond the other therapists.
    Best wishes

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Maria, I’m so sorry you had to face depression from such a young age. But I am so glad that you were able to get the help that you need to be yourself that you are meant to be! Thank you. Stories like yours really truly encourage me. All the best, Haelim.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You have mentioned that you’re a human being so as a human being, you will seek professional help, take care of yourself, of your health and then go back to resume your journey, these two will go in parallel no need to one of them to overcome the other or comes first, having a break, sick leave or whatever you wanna call it, don’t make your career less important than your mental health, it‘s just an emergency, or a simple break…like you had cold or so…I mean you can be studying law, graphic design, agriculture…and you have mental illness so it’s the same. Being a psychiatrist doesn’t mean you’re not suffering as all mankind do! Probably it will give you more experience in dealing with similar cases that’s it

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    1. Thank you for your encouragement! Your words really encouraged me to take a step back and realize what you said. I’ll keep your words in mind!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. First. I think a that a therapist that treats others and has a mental illness (and is being treated for a mental illness) is good for the people you help. You understand on a different level. I often think about what came first, writing or my mental illness. it is really hard to say. I think you have an amazing grasp on your illness. It is truly amazing to see your strength, Haelim. Thank you for sharing your experience with this blog.

    – James

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s ironic how sometimes, our biggest enemy can push ourselves to be someone that we strive to be. Whether it be writing or being a therapist, it shapes or forms us in ways that we don’t want but also shapes us to be the people we are today. Thank you for your words! It’s so good to see things from a different perspective! – Haelim

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I am not sure what came first but it is very common for therapists to be dealing with their own issues. I took classes in the human service field and we often talked about how therapists need to be counseling themselves because it so emotionally exhausting and I know a lot of them go into the field as means of helping themselves if that makes sense. Great post!! And I hope you can work out your issues with depression and good luck going into the field

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes yes. I agree! I use to lightly tell people that I am in therapy to become a therapist before things got worse. Definitely seeing things in a whole new light since then. Thank you so much!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right. It’s just so hard to see this from a different perspective when I feel like I’m the “problem”! It’s amazing how a simple comment like this can change my view around so much. Thank you for your words!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m so sorry that you’re going through this. I do not, however, think it’s wrong for a therapist to need treatment of their own. If anything, you will be better able to empathize with the people you see, because you understand what they’re going through on a personal level.
    Being a therapist is emotionally draining. You want to solve all the problems people bring to you, and you put so much of yourself into that. Of course it affects your mental state. I don’t know that it matters which came first, so much as that you know you can be an amazing therapist even with your problems.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Go for it! There is no conflict between giving help and receiving help – they are two separate things. Your personal experiences are likely to make you empathetic .

    You might need to learn to put up a professional barrier so you don’t get drawn in to the struggles of the people you are assisting. But I suspect that is true for all therapists.

    We look forward to the day you graduate in your field 🙂

    Like

  9. I’ve heard that it’s normal for therapists to see therapists. I think some people actually expect it. Mental health is part of health and it’s something we should all try to take care of, even if we’re in the field. Doctors still go to the doctor.

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  10. I think it gives you more of an ability to relate to your patient’s because you know exactly what they are going through. I, myself, see a therapist, psychiatrist, and take psych meds and I practice as a mental health nurse at an inpatient psychiatric facility. I know first hand what my patients are going through, as well as their parents, because I work with children. So, I think it makes you all the more qualified. Just be sure to take care of yourself FIRST!

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