Dear Anita,

Let’s be real, is there anything as needlessly uncomfortable as therapy?

As raising your hand, as calling up a perfect stranger and declaring, “Hello, my name is Cassie and I can no longer manage my life, my relationships, my…self…please help?”

And should it really be this hard?

We are monstrous to each other, casting shame on those who would seek to make things better. Is it truly embarrassing to ask for help? Is it really failure to seek expertise? Surely it’s an exercise in extreme hubris to believe that a creature as frail and social and needy as a human being could stand as an island, solve the problem of life on its own.

I’ll admit, though, I really wish I could. Sometimes when I am well, I slip into the belief that I can. That the past is over and I am better and the generalized anxiety disorder and depression will never return. But I’m not always well. And episodes have a tendency to sneak up out of the blue. I have periods where the world feels like fire, where interaction burns and I feel weak on my feet, where the only semblance of safety is in the quiet of my home. I know in these times I can’t do it on my own. That I will have to again call upon the help of those trained in healing to lead me back to wellness. Again subject myself to the doctor’s blood tests and exams. Again call the psychiatrist. Again return to the daily ritual of antidepressants. Again sit on a couch across from a stranger and outline the cliche traumas that have speckled my privileged life.

I will have to, again, acknowledge my frailty despite my best, constant efforts to be strong.

I hate every last second of it.

But maybe this is my great strength, my willingness to try, again and again, in the face of shame and embarrassment and my own stubbornness. My extreme optimism, my belief that a better life exists out there somewhere in this murk, if only I have the courage to take a stranger’s hand and allow myself to be shown new paths by those that can see.

The blood tests were mercifully negative. My psychiatrist has me back on the Lexapro. I go today to talk with a stranger. Wish me luck!