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Awakening

I’m a Therapist and I Suffer From Mental Illness

Emily Rein, LMHC vulnerably shares her mental health journey and mission to break the stigmas.

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I sat and stared at the screen, my trembling pointer finger poised above the touchpad. This was about the fifth time this year that I’d gotten this far, but each time I had been too afraid to click “post.” I had always been worried what other people might say or think when they learned more about me. Would they say I was crazy? Would they think I wasn’t professional or competent enough to do my job anymore? 

The risk had felt greater than the potential reward up until now. But here I was, two months into a downward spiral of panic attacks, depression, and insomnia. I was back in regular therapy and I was starting to accept that part of my healing would need to include more vulnerability. I came to that conclusion after sobbing in my therapist’s office for the better part of an hour. I kept telling her how I was so tired. “So tired” meant many things, but it definitely included how I was tired of pretending I was fine when everything was falling apart.

So, just over three weeks ago, I “came out” online. I clicked “post” on Facebook and Instagram, putting it out there publicly:

I’m a therapist, and I suffer from mental illness.” 

I half expected something dramatic to happen, like my keyboard would burst into flames. At the very least, I expected that panic would start to creep in and I might hastily hit “delete” or retreat to my bed to hide and cry.

Instead, I felt a slight flutter of nervousness in my stomach, then I stood up from the computer and let out an audible sigh of relief.

There was freedom in that moment when I finally clicked “submit.”

As a therapist, I’ve spent years telling clients that there’s no shame in struggling with mental health issues. When it’s been helpful or appropriate, I’ve disclosed to my clients that I‘ve experienced panic attacks; that I’ve been in therapy off and on since I was 16; that I take medication to help with managing my depression and anxiety. I’ve had clients tell me over the years that they appreciate knowing that I’m a “real person” with problems, too. Clients have shared that it helps them feel more comfortable opening up to me knowing that I’ve been in therapy myself. I’ve seen firsthand how more authenticity about my issues has had a positive impact in some of these clients’ lives.

Then why had I been so hesitant to share my story on a larger scale? I had been vocal online for years about the ways that mental illness is stigmatized (and how that needs to change). I had posted plenty of articles on my business Facebook page about mental illness and how to support/help others or resources available to seek professional help.

But I had always held back on going deeper and telling my truth, because I was afraid of what might happen. As a mental health professional, I felt there was an image I needed to uphold. I can be empathic, educate and advocate. But, I can’t let people know that I had horrific postpartum depression and couldn’t work for a year. During that time, I saw a psychiatrist regularly for therapy and to adjust my medication. Yet until now, I was afraid to be more transparent because I feared being judged by my peers or potential clients as “incapable” if I told the truth. 

As it turns out, the truth is helping to set me free.  

Like so many other therapists, my main objective is to support and help others. While my degree, training and experience is part of what makes me an effective therapist, I also hear people talk about how important it is to feel comfortable with a therapist. Therapy can be scary and intimidating, especially if you’ve had a bad experience or don’t know what to expect. Once someone is in the room with me, I find that the building the relationship is the first (and most critical) part. If you don’t get to the point where you feel comfortable with your therapist, how can you be expected to trust this person enough to fully open up about your feelings and life struggles?

In order to be vulnerable with more people, I had to keep reminding myself what an impact it’s had when I show up as my true self with my therapy clients. My internal dialogue right before I clicked and “came out” online was something like this:

“So what if more people know? Your family and friends know. So many of your past and current clients know. You’ve constantly been told that people appreciate that you’re ‘real.’ If you want to help more people, you need to put it out there more. Maybe if someone reads that a therapist goes to therapy, and isn’t afraid to talk openly about it, that will help break down the stigma even further.”

As for “that post,” the one I agonized over: when I returned to my computer a couple hours later, I was surprised to see so many “likes” coming in. Then came the comments:

“Thank you for shining your light, being whole and real.”

“It takes great strength to be vulnerable. <3 <3”

“Fight on, never quit. Walk in beauty and balance.”

I was genuinely surprised that the worst wasn’t happening: no trolls. No haters. No one telling me how I wasn’t qualified or good enough as a therapist anymore (I told you, that was my greatest fear- my credibility being thrown out the window)!

Then, several hours later, I received an email that read (in part):

“I know that you are not currently taking new clients. I’ve been looking for just the right mental health counselor and I was really moved by your post about your own mental health struggles. If you do ever start accepting new clients, please let me know!”

Not going to lie: the email made me (happy) cry.

I went to bed that night, feeling a sense of relief and sending that I did the right thing. You know, the thing that’s hard/you don’t want to do, but you do it anyway and it turns out it was worth the risk?

So far, being vulnerable and telling my story more openly has been worth it. I’m not sure what the next chapter will bring, but for now I’m happy I wrote the beginning of this one by saying:

I’m a therapist. I have a therapist. I suffer from anxiety and depression. I had severe postpartum depression. I have issues just like everyone else.

I hope knowing this helps you feel less alone.

Emily Rein is a licensed mental health counselor and owner of Bloom Wellness Center in Rochester, New York.

Awakening

Honoring Our Light and Dark Phases

On episode 1 of Spirituali-tea, Leena Lemos explores the seasonality of life with predictive astrologer Crystal B.

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Welcome to the first episode of Spirituali-tea with Leena Lemos! The intention of today’s talk show is to create a safe and light-hearted space to nerd out about all things spirituality and soul development.

About Crystal B.

Crystal B. is an expert professional astrologer working with clients all over the world. She is a second-generation astrologer and has been around astrology all her life. Her office is located in Montclair, NJ. As a public speaker, writer, teacher, coach, and Astro Therapist she has become a trusted source of astrological information. She is passionate about using astrology as a tool for spirituality, mental health, and mindfulness. Additionally, she specializes in Past Life Regression in connection with our astrological influences. Crystal develops and facilitates custom astrology events and works with prominent colleges, including Harvard, Barnard Columbia, and Rutgers.

Click here to buy your copy of Crystal’s New Book, Feed Your Moon, OR find it at your Barnes and Noble! 😉

See Crystal’s skins photoshoot here.

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Awakening

The Divine Energies

Natalia Santos shares a poem about leaning into Divine Masculine and Feminine energies.

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Imaged Sourced from Canva

Divine Feminine, Divine Masculine

The essence of divine energies,

Allow yourself to feel the energies, allow yourself to be.

Do not tin the energetic energies. Do not judge them, let them be.

Explore and understand the flows and stillness of femininity.

Exercise and explore the actions of masculinity. Allow them to merge, grow together, blend and infuse.

Be the creator spirit that you desire to be.

Pour yourself that glass of tea,

Watch how it pours into your glass. The flow of the feminine. The cup of the masculine.

The watery trickle of imagination, daydreams, and creativity.

To the grounding of the cup which hits the root. Ravaging roots circling into the ground.

We watch in awe. As they work together.

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Awakening

No. 3: Wait, No Fireworks?

Leena Lemos reflects on her “forced” spiritual awakening and how shadow work changed everything.

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The Spiritual Anthropologist is a raw, humorous, and inquisitive weekly column by Leena Lemos that explores the dance between the human experience and the spiritual being.


When I first began my journey, I spent almost four years trying to force a “spiritual awakening.” I wanted my spiritual gifts and I was done waiting for them. I visited all the crystal shops looking for the perfect stone to open my Third Eye. I listened to lightcode DNA activation binaural beats. I visited intuitive healer after intuitive healer, aching for someone to validate my spiritual existence.

Accurate portrayal of my conversations with spirit:

INT. LEENA’S BEDROOM – NIGHT

Leena sits in a lotus pose, surrounded by candles, crystals, and her latest oracle card pull. She huffs and puffs as she looks up to the ceiling.

LEENA

I’m ready for my spiritual gifts, uniiiverrrseeeeeeeee!

She opens her arms wide as she waits for the light beam to strike.

LEENA

K now. And now. Likeeeeeee now. Did you do it yet? Hello? Is this thing on?

The universe does not make a peep.

LEENA

Alrighty, then. I guess ya busy or didn’t get the memo. It’s fine. Time to keep searching.

THE END.

And I kept searching and pushing, but that spiritual activation, as I imagined, never came.

I thought my big spiritual upgrades would be accompanied by fireworks as my magic powers activated Captain Planet-style. I assumed my physiology would short circuit, causing a divine electrical surge to flow through my veins. I couldn’t wait to be that version of me, I always thought. That’s when I will truly be “spiritual.” That’s when everyone will finally see how worthy I am. That’s when all the hurt and pain will magically dissipate.

And then one day, I looked in the mirror and I didn’t recognize my own face. In trying to force a spiritual awakening I traveled even further from what I was actually searching for…self-love.

I was using my shallow form of spirituality to safeguard the young girl who built a Game of Thrones‘ size wall after high school trauma. I wanted outward recognition for the vibrant heart I kept hidden from the world. I wanted others to see my wise, cosmic, and claircognizant soul, so I could finally embody it in the “real world.”

I was ready to shine my light and was convinced it was only possible after a certain level of spiritual awareness.

After looking in that mirror, everything changed. When I turned inward, the painful truths and experiences that made me feel like I’m not enough began to bubble to the surface. I slowly began to accept that a complete universal makeover that is so divine it overpowers all of my wounds was just another escape from self-accountability.

I was caught in a limiting-belief paradigm that so many of us have fallen privvy to in the age of comparison culture on social media. And that’s the idea that there is a spiritual ladder to climb. That there is a pedestal that comes with a spiritual facade. That you are separate from your spiritual gifts. That you are separate from the universe.

I’ve worked through massive transformation this year. Massive loss. Massive burnout. Massive unlearning. Massive Healing. Massive Expansion.

Through doing the deep shadow work, I’ve seen first-hand the magic that happens when we alchemize parts of our soul that no longer serve us. It is not a gift we are given in lightning-beam form from the universe, but one we create sacred space for through our self-healing.

We are so capable. We are so powerful. We are the only ones who get to decide whether or not we grow. I’m still healing the remnants of shame that kept me from going inward sooner, but whether you call it ascension, raised consciousness, spiritual upgrades, awakening, the labels all agree on one thing: Our growth involves a perspective shift. But one you can’t see it until you’re on the otherside of it.

The truth is, most of the time, we have no idea this shift has happened until we’ve already unconsciously experienced it. But it’s the slow integration, when you are in complete universal flow, that is much more magnificent than Pomp and Circumstance.

The more I transform, the more peace I find in stillness. The more love I’m willing to give to myself and the world. The more joy I find in the present moment.

Our ego wants fireworks. It wants credibility. It wants recognition. Yet, our soul rising feels much more like a soft warm afternoon breeze. It’s light. Its fluid. It’s graceful.

I hope by sharing this reflection on my spiritual growth, you feel confident in just one thing: You are exactly where you need to be in this now moment. Celebrate it. Honor it. Send it love. Yet, don’t forget how entirely capable you are to make space for magic. The universe will not give you a pat on the back because you are already whole. You are already all that you’ve ever wanted to be.

Perhaps you just need to clean off your mirror to see it.

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