Therapists With Mental Illness
We have all asked the question “do therapists have mental health struggles?” Maybe you have a therapist and you have considered “does my therapist struggle with mental health?” Therapists with mental illness are quite common.
In fact, I’d say most therapists, like myself, struggle with mental illness. For a lot of us it is what led us to the field. Chances are your therapist has found great success in their healing and that’s why they are in the business of helping others! I know that was my reason.
So this article is going to be a little different than articles I have written previously. Typically, I will focus on some educational topic relating to psychology or mental health. I am writing this post coming off of a pretty low week mood-wise for me, which hasn’t been typical lately.
My goal with this article is to show you a little bit of where I am so you can gauge where you are. I also want to show you that we therapists have feelings, too! Of course, I’m sure you know that. I just enjoy the process of therapy so much, I want to do a little writing therapy for my audience for this post.
Therapists With Mental Illness – Who Am I?
I won’t spend too much time talking about who I am exactly. I’ll let my about me page do most of the talking there. Feel free to click there and see more of my educational background and clinical specialties.
My name is Antonio Siciliano, a born and raised Michigander (yes, we really call ourselves that here), and owner of Michigan Counseling and Referral Services, LLC. I am the grandson of immigrants from the a region in southern Italy called Calabria.
Throughout my life taking care of people has been of the utmost importance to me. Whenever going over to a friend’s house my dad would always offer a suggestion of “be sure to help out if they need it”.
This idea of being a “helper” always came very naturally to me. My family always was recognized for being very active in our church community in Jackson, MI. There was always something I enjoyed about volunteering and helping others.
School always required that we students volunteer a certain number of hours every quarter. I was in a lucky bunch who never struggled to hit the number of hours we needed because of my family’s involvement in the community.
I think my commitment to helping others to this point in my life even supersedes the raw interest in helping. Again, from my dad growing up, we were always taught to put people first. This is a very basic tenant that I have carried with me to this point in my life and in my work.
My therapist might suggest my interest in helping people comes from my family’s stressing the importance of helping others when I could and being an advocate for people. Although this is likely true, I think it goes a little deeper than that.
A Bit About My Mental Health Journey
As a kid, I had the distinct privilege of going through a private catholic school with advanced academics with undiagnosed ADHD. Being in this environment with ADHD, although I am eternally grateful for the opportunities offered to me from private catholic school, really created some difficult insecurities I would go on to face in my college years.
Being a Neurodivergent Child
Being a neurodivergent adult and knowing it is one thing, but being a neurodivergent child in a place that isn’t exactly affirming of that is even more difficult.
As a child with ADHD school came very easy for me–until it didn’t. Sometime toward the end of elementary school through high school is when I began to struggle. Don’t get me wrong, I had about a “B” average.
Anybody from an extremely ethnic and poor family will be able to empathize when I say that this created some difficulties with my self-esteem. Despite this, I am blessed to have had my family behind me all these years.
It still didn’t quite change that I have always had a hearty amount of imposter syndrome in academic settings. Over time, this led to highly negative views of education and a loathing of my intellectual abilities that would follow me to this very day.
Setting Myself Up For Success
College was a lot nicer to me. Other than with the emotional aspects of leaving home at a young age (Yes, 18 is a young age to leave home. Fight me.) my grades improved significantly. What was the difference?
Well, the difference was that I got to choose how to do things on my own terms. First thing I did was x-nay morning classes. Nothing before 10am, and it worked so much better than I could’ve thought! My grades improved significantly from here throughout the end of my graduate training.
Looking back, not learning about my neurotype until during my graduate program was definitely a major factor in my mental health struggles. To this day I tend to feel a bit ‘held back’ in certain aspects. But I have also learned to love myself where I’m at.
For every random factoid I forget, I remember an incredibly important detail that I hyper-fixated on in a very important conversation with a patient. This is almost my little super power–because my patients are important I hyper-fixate on them when we are talking.
So this has been my experience. Navigating the world with ADHD has been a challenge in a lot of ways, but rewarding in many other ways. Highs and lows with my mood have always been constant as well as a healthy amount of dissociation when feelings get big.
Through my own therapy I have been able to manage all of this and move into my career with grace. Most days are great, but some here and there are a struggle. Either way, I have had a bit of a journey behind me, as have you. From here, we look to the present and future.
What Does This All Mean? Where Am I Now?
So why even tell you this story? What does all of this mean? I’m just one of many therapists with mental illness. Well, that may be so. As not just a therapist, but a human I want to make contact with you.
Like I mentioned before, I am writing this coming off of a decently significant low (for me). Having said that, I hold a masters degree from an esteemed university, work a job that pays pretty well, I’m currently seeing a girl who I am having a growing interest in, and I am getting ready to begin seeing my first patients in my private practice in about two weeks from the date this post was published.
Everybody hurts, sometimes seemingly without cause. On paper, I have it together. Hell, I’ve been told by many people that they are jealous of me for having it all together.
Therapists With Mental Illness Have It All Together, Right?
Even as somebody who “has it all together”, I still have a fear that I won’t be able to fall asleep at night which has had a major impact on my mood for the past two years. As somebody who “has it all together” I still get very bashful in groups of other professionals when I am asked for my clinical opinion on a case.
I guess what I want to say is that even as a therapist I don’t have it all together. Honestly, I haven’t met anybody who does. And you know what? That’s okay. It’s what makes us human–our “imperfections”.
Being able to have bouts of low mood has given me the unique ability to use myself as an example as to how to pick yourself up. Any of my patients know I love to talk about myself. It is always for a purpose.
And like I said, my purpose is to help and put people first. So that is why I continue to struggle with you, because I want you reading this to know that you aren’t alone in your struggles.
So Here I Am
Where I am now is sitting in the library of my alma mater with my best friend on a cold, Michigan night writing this article. A little bit ago today around 6pm or so I began to feel the dread that always seems to pop up relating to sleep. Right now, it’s about 8pm and I’m feeling pretty good about going home to play some Minecraft.
Big picture, I’m nervous about what’s ahead. My practice, the rest of my life, all of it. I don’t know where I’m going to be or where my support network are going to be. But one thing I’ve learned thus far in practice is this–when you don’t know what will happen, take it a day at a time.
So right now I am taking it a day at a time until my practice grows to be big enough for me to take it on full time. As for my other personal goals, I suppose I can do a few articles like this in the future if you would like. Be sure to let me know!
Therapists With Mental Illness – Conclusion
I don’t exactly know what my goals with this article are. Partially, I want you to know that at the very least if you feel alone in your struggle with mental illness that you can count me in on that with you.
I can also tell you I have a small caseload of people who would love to just give you a hug and tell you they care. We all support each other, no matter what. We have all gotten this far, and there’s so much farther to go!
The other part to this article, admittingly, is that I just wanted to vent a little bit. The last two weeks have really tested me with balancing daytime work, the practice, exercise, maintaining healthy eating habits, healthy social habits, spirituality, physical health, financial health, and an unfortunate event I was indirectly apart of.
As one of many therapists with mental illness I always want to communicate that I will be open with you. I will always tell you what is on my mind, whether in a session, on my blog, or through any medium you follow me through.
Just remember that sometimes even those of us who seem to “have it all figured out” really struggle on the daily to hold it together sometimes. It’s okay to not be okay and to reach out if you need to.
If you feel as though you do need to reach out and chat you can do so with my contact form. Be sure to take good care of yourself and remember that whatever you may be feeling that is bothering you will not last forever.
Remember to take things one action at a time, one day at a time. You got this.