By Kelli Reep

Director of Communications, Methodist Family Health

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Didn’t kids just get out of school for the summer? Immediately after the red, white and blue bunting and sparklers leave the shelves, stores pack them full of pencils, paper and markers to prepare both students and parents for the new school year routine.

It always depressed me. Even now as an adult, seeing the sales on school uniforms and packages of glue sticks makes my stomach knot. Was it the switch from obligation-free days to ones regimented by a schedule that makes me feel this way, or the existential dread of change itself that overwhelmed me then; I’m not sure. Regardless, these feelings fused into a funk that held on so strongly that I sought counseling just before turning 40 to help me unknot all the kinks in my mental circuitry.

It’s something I used to be ashamed of sharing. No one should admit to not feeling or thinking of being 100 percent happy and content (and, if you do? Certainly, don’t tell anyone! That’s not what “good” or “nice” people do. What would others think? And you have so much to be grateful for, and there are so many others who are so much worse off than you. Did you think about that? Just don’t think about being unhappy!)

All of which is bunk. Everyone – toddlers, children, adolescents, 20 and 30-somethings, mid-lifers, empty nesters and the elderly – struggle with depression, anxiety and trauma. Just like aging, this is the nature of being human.

Realizing this – that I am not alone in my struggles – is what I think helped me the most in healing. Talking with someone I trusted, who I knew would maintain my confidences and not judge me for them, helped me as much. Understanding that God did not intend for my time on Earth to be riddled with self-flagellation for my perceived inadequacies? Helps me every day. Working for an organization like Methodist Family Health that sees children and families in crisis every day and provides the best possible care to them reinforces to me that there is help for all of us.

If you are at a time in your life where you feel like living is nothing but struggle, please seek out help from a therapist or counselor. I know you feel like no one would understand, that you think your worries really aren’t that big of a deal in the bigger picture, that you really just need to get a grip on your life and soldier through. I am here to tell you this: what you are feeling is valid. You are not wrong or damaged for feeling like you do. What you’re feeling is a big deal, and as scary as it seems, talking with someone who wants you to get through this time and has the training to show you the way is a necessity for you. You can do this.

For 120 years, Methodist Family Health has rebuilt the lives of Arkansas children and their families who are abandoned, abused, neglected and struggling with psychiatric, behavioral, emotional and spiritual issues. Now in our Little Rock counseling clinic, we are accepting adults for counseling and therapy sessions. When you are ready to talk, we will be ready to listen.

For more information about the Little Rock Methodist Counseling Clinic, e-mail Dao Ward at DWard@MethodistFamily.org, call 501-537-3991 or visit MethodistFamily.org.