Dear Charlene: “It Feels Like It’s Too Late for Therapy”
Every month, writer and actor Charlene deGuzman answers your questions about love, loss, and loneliness.
Hi everyone! I’m Charlene deGuzman!
I’ve teamed up with FLOOD to offer you all advice, support, and hope! Every month I’ll be answering any of your heart’s questions on life, love, happiness, and any of the deepest places in between.
Let me introduce myself. I was depressed at age eleven. I never thought I could ever feel happy or lovable. I spent my whole life trying to escape the pain. My life was a mess until I got fed up and did something about it. And now, as a recovered sex and love addict, I am the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been.
I’m here to listen and help. Ask me anything at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your identity will remain anonymous.
And if you need one-on-one guidance, check out the work I do on charlenejoy.com. I would love to help!
I’ve been following you on Twitter for years now and have read everything you’ve shared and all that you’ve been through. I want to be better, too, but when I think about my own life, it just seems impossible. I’m a lot older than you, I have an ex-wife, and kids. It feels like it’s too late—there’s too much to do. And not enough money! You always talk about therapy, but there’s no way I can afford it. I struggle financially already—I can’t be spending money on therapy. What do I do?
Thank you for following me all these years! First and foremost, it is not too late. It’s never too late. Yes, working on yourself is a lot to take on, and it’s a process—a challenging, imperfect process that requires practice, commitment, resilience, and lots of ups and downs. And frankly, it never ends! But it’s never too late to begin that process. Even just starting it is better than doing nothing at all. Intention is everything—you want change, and just knowing that is a courageous first step.
And now, you’ve written to me. You’re asking for help! Asking for help is hard, so you’re brave for beginning yet another step. See? You’re already doing it!
Just so you know, it all seemed impossible for me, too. I had to believe in myself? Think I’m worthy? Feel my feelings? Stop doing all these things that I thought I couldn’t live without? The list of things required of me went on and on and on. I said “FUCK THAT” for as long as I could…until I couldn’t. And when it was time, the only thing that (just barely) got me through it all was taking it one day at a time.
You don’t need to figure it all out in one day. You don’t need to know how it is all possible. You just need to remember what you want, take action, and keep showing up. Once you decide and declare that you want to change, I’m telling you: the steps will show up for you. Just keep showing up and doing the work—little itty bitty baby steps.
Once you decide and declare that you want to change, I’m telling you: the steps will show up for you.
If you broke your leg, would you go to the hospital? If you were sick for a long time, and weren’t getting better, would you go to the doctor? If a medicine saved your life, would you pay for it? Mental health is just as important. Your well-being is important. Your life is important. Think about your kids, and let them inspire and motivate you to be better. Be the model for your children that they deserve. Kids don’t do what they’re told—they do what they see. Do they have a father who loves himself? Takes care of himself? Respects himself? You don’t want to pass your pain onto your children; break the cycle now—break the generational patterns—by healing yourself.
You cannot be the best for your children, relationships, career, or life, if you do not take care of yourself. Be the best person you can be and get the help you need. You cannot do it alone.
And hey, there was no way I could afford therapy, either. I was so broke, and constantly struggling in crisis. But at some point, I got desperate, and took action anyway. I don’t know if you believe in miracles, or maybe this sounds woo-woo, but I found that once I committed to getting help, financially everything seemed to work itself out. I know several people who share the same experience—it’s completely unexplainable, but it just seems like we are meant to take care of ourselves. It’s worth seeing for yourself.
Any bit of action helps. Do some research and look up low-cost therapy or counseling for those with low incomes. YouFindTherapy.com is an excellent resource to find affordable therapy in your state.
And therapy is a great starting point, because expressing things that you’ve never said out loud can be incredibly healing. Talking about what’s been going on in that noisy head of yours and processing your thoughts and feelings with someone who is a neutral, non-judgmental professional will help you get clarity, connect with yourself, learn, and evolve.
Going to therapy is like going to the gym, or taking your vitamins, or getting your hair cut. It’s a way to love and take care of yourself. It’s maintenance.
There continues to be a stigma on therapy, as if therapy is for “crazy” or “weak” people. As if something must be wrong with someone if they go to therapy. But the truth is: as the sensitive human beings we truly are, we all struggle. We all have no idea what we’re doing. We’re all fighting a fight, trying to figure it out. We all have pain. We all have something we’re too scared to say. Going to therapy is like going to the gym, or taking your vitamins, or getting your hair cut. It’s a way to love and take care of yourself. It’s maintenance.
And if you’re still reluctant about therapy, consider a support group. There are many, with a wide variety of topics, and most are free, some being online. Mental Health America offers an excellent guide for helping you find a group in your area.
And remember, ultimately, you are doing this for you. More than anything, I want to remind you that you are worth it. You are worth asking for help. You are worth taking action for. You are worth doing whatever you can to give yourself the best life. It’s time to try another way. You deserve to at least see another way. Give yourself the chance. FL