For a few years now, I have been suffering mentally. I won’t go into great detail but I will say I have horrible social anxiety. I want to be able to speak and express myself to my friends and my boyfriend so that I won’t lose them. Now, the problem with that is, I am so scared to ask my parents about letting me see a psychologist or a therapist. It just feels like they might not take me seriously or think I’m seeking attention. And I don’t want them to look at me differently like I’m some psycho because I have anxiety. I want to tell them, but I just can’t. I don’t feel like I’m worth their time.

A. You said that it “just feels like” your parents will not take you seriously. Feelings are often irrational. Just because you feel a particular way doesn’t mean that your feelings are reasonable, justified or accurate. Feelings need to be challenged and examined and that’s where logic can be useful. Learning how to analyze feelings with logic is a skill you can learn in counseling.

Consider the person with severe anxiety who refuses to leave their home because of an extreme fear that something bad will happen to them. The probability of something bad happening to them is very low yet their fear prevents them from leaving their home. Fear is not necessarily a good indicator of truth. It can make you think things that are not true and behave in ways that are detrimental to your psychological health.

It’s also important to address the idea that having anxiety makes you a “psycho.” False ideas about mental illnesses continue to pervade our culture and prevent people from seeking mental health treatment. People with anxiety disorders are not “psycho” or crazy. Millions of people have anxiety and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Philadelphia Eagles football player Brandon Brooks has the right idea about anxiety. He recently spoke to the media about the anxiety disorder that was interfering with how he played the game. He told them: “I’m not ashamed. I’m not embarrassed. It’s life… If I get the help & the treatment I need… I’ll be fine. [I’ll] come out better for this.”

He’s right. He should not be ashamed or embarrassed nor should anyone else with anxiety. His willingness to speak openly about his anxiety problems helps other people realize that seeking treatment is the right thing to do.

The best way to overcome your fear is to engage in the very behavior that you fear. In this case, it would be asking your parents to assist you in seeking mental health treatment. Don’t let fear prevent you from receiving treatment. There is no reason to suffer with a treatable illness. You wouldn’t be ashamed of asking your parents to take you to a dentist for a toothache. Treatment for anxiety is no different. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle