Personal Stories

How the Pandemic Forced Me to Face My Feelings

by Jerica Marcial

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I remember one of the last times I cried in front of my father. I was drunk and telling him how much I loved him, and he told me to stop crying. He told me he loved me too — words that felt foreign to me — yet, he said them as if that was supposed to placate me and end the conversation.

So often these outpourings of emotions and affection are considered displays of weakness. What’s worse is that they are viewed as comical when a bottle is involved, and we don’t think of the real reason behind these veiled and intoxicated words. We don’t sit there and think, “this is why I still have trouble telling my mom I love her before I hang up the phone.”

Last October, I was lucky enough to redeem a free subscription to TalkSpace. I was weary, at first, and complacent to the notion of speaking to someone professionally about my feelings, which I’ve always thought were invalid. I second guessed a lot of my own insecurities. I used to think that I’m not “sick” enough, or that because a doctor hadn’t prescribed me with x illness professionally, then I was somehow unworthy of therapy.

I used to think “I don’t think I ‘need’ therapy as much as others, so I shouldn’t try.” The first time I signed up with the app I was silent, telling myself to close the app and “put my girl pants on.” But those thoughts alone taught me that’s what talk therapy is for. I’ve found that ignoring those feelings and invalidating them is so much worse. It is harmful to bottle your emotions up. I have this delusion of hardness that I like to present not only in life, but on social media: “I like being alone,” “keep me in quarantine,” etc. But the people who truly know me, know that when things get hard, I run.

When I was faced with the six walls of my studio apartment realizing that there was a problem, there was nowhere left to run. TalkSpace, and my professional therapist has helped me realize, that I don’t need to run. That I can talk about these feelings, and that there are safe places for me to speak about how I feel.

It’s been really hard, but the past five months have been worth so much. I no longer feel like disappearing is an option. I know that I’m blessed and that not many have the opportunities that I have to help navigate my mental health. I wanted to speak out and spread awareness that it’s okay to let yourself feel. It’s okay to want to be heard, and it’s okay to talk things out, even when you want to run away. #youarenotalone