The Struggle: Finding Therapists

Disclaimer: I am partnering with BetterHelp, the world’s largest e-counseling platform – helping people with finding therapists where they are needed – to share information about their services in this blog post. All opinions are 100% my own. (TW: Suicide / Mental Health)

If you follow me on my more personal blog, you might remember how 2019 is my year of courage. This one is really playing out as I eluded to when I told you that I was having some physical struggles back in June.  In that post, I also shared that there was a mental/emotional side to it, too. Boy, at that time I had no clue how much more was coming my way, but I’m happy to say that the tides that were rising are starting to recede and I’m working on getting the help I need.

WAIT, WHAT?

Needing help? That’s not what a strong person does, is it? To be honest, admitting help is needed is exactly what I didn’t want to do. It made me feel so weak and vulnerable, but this summer it became so clear that getting help was what was necessary.

So yes, you heard me right. I’ve been hiding that all is okay and it’s not really okay around here but I am working on that, we are working on that to be fair (it’s not just my battle).

Those of you close to me know that on June 7, 2019, my 17-year-old cousin Emily died by suicide. Emily’s struggle is not something unfamiliar to our family – my side and Greg’s – or to me. She was struggling with mental health, something I did not realize was so hard to get help for. Even though I majored in Psychology as an undergrad, I had no clue that there weren’t enough people in the profession able to fill all of the needs…until I found myself desperately needing it.

Getting Help/Finding a Therapist

Later in June, the need for a therapist for myself and Greg went from a “this is something we should do because we know it is good” to a must do (unrelated to losing Emily, but all still so raw and real).

My world crashed greater than I thought it could (please respect that I’m going to keep details private for now – it is not for secrecy but for healing). With what I feel is really good insurance (and an out of pocket max met thanks to my health issues), we tried for ten weeks to get a counselor and finally last week were able to make it happen.

TEN weeks. Ten weeks is a lifetime when you feel like you’re walking on eggshells, when you feel alone and ugly, when you feel desperate for the pain to just go away. This part of my story is that ten week is far too freaking long for someone to get licensed help and it is no surprise to me that our mental health issues are climbing, suicide is far too familiar, and the divorce rate is so high.

But ten weeks is what it took us to find a therapist and even then actually going to my first appointment took all I had. This shakes me and breaks me and makes me so sad for my young cousin (who I know was trying to get help), her family, our extended family, myself, and our world as a whole. Mental health help should not be so hard to come by!

Is there Better Help Out There?

So that brings me to BetterHelp, the partner for this post. Goodness, I wish that I’d heard about them sooner in my journey to find a therapist. They can help by offering a list of potential matching therapists based on your location, need, and preferences. Even more awesome, they are avaiable for in-person or online visits, taking down one of the huge barriers that I was facing in getting help.

Note: At the time of this post, my therapist is not one suggested by their service; however, because therapy needs to work for you in a way that is convenient and helpful, I will be using them should my needs or comfort with my counselor changes. 

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BetterHealth can help you find a therapist based on your location, need, and preferences. They are avaiable for in-person or online visits, taking down one of the huge barriers that I was facing in getting help. Find out more by visiting their therapist search site, https://www.betterhelp.com/therapists/

Is therapy right for you? 

One of the rewarding aspects of working with a therapist is that they are listening to your feelings. Our friends and loved ones often hear us, but they may have a hard time providing objective guidance in the way a therapist can. A therapist wants to support you toward a healthier emotional state. In addition to developing healthier emotions, another benefit of therapy is you have a safe space to discuss problems that you may be hesitant to talk about with people in your everyday life.Source: BetterHealth

Crisis Resources

  • If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately.
  • If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255)
  • If you’re uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can also text NAMI to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line.

Dad’s Last Service

Many of you know that we’re a faithful family. Perhaps you don’t know that is because Greg and I both were raised in our faiths by parents who are deeply faithful. In fact, I’m a pastor’s kid…even though he’s in retirement mode! Dad’s last service as a United Methodist Minister was on May 14.

It was bittersweet to step into East Brady UMC one last time. This time, it was full of family from both my Dad and Mom’s sides as we worshiped and took in his last sermon as an active minister. I won’t deny that I shed a tear or two, but it was more the church I’m used to with him – he made us laugh and he made us proud.

Once everyone had left, our family walked outside for a quick photo before celebrating both of my parents’ retirement with a picnic.

East Brady and Sligo had been their appointment since 2011 – when Evan was six months old. Their parsonage is all Evan and the Twins have ever known as Pappy and Grammie’s. Arianna and Greg knew the Allegheny River Charge (Ford Memorial, Manorville, Roger’s Chapel, and Union Avenue).

But Dad, Mom, Jack, and I have so many other places that have our hearts and that we could call home thanks to this ministry. These are stories for another time, but I am so thankful for how God moved in our midst, providing us just the right places at just the right times in our lives. Bringing us people who became friends and even family. Bringing us memories and strength. It wasn’t always easy being a “PK”, but it sure was nice looking back on it.

If you’ve been blessed by my dad’s ministry or if you’ve been part of our journey through life across Western PA and Western Ohio, thank you. Dad and Mom are settling down just a short car ride away from their kids and their grandbabies and plan to take some time to just relax and enjoy. He will be honored at the Western PA Annual Conference Retirement Ceremony on Friday (June 9) at Grove City College.

Dad (or Pappy) and Mom (or Grammie), we are so thankful for your love and faith. Congratulations on your retirement and enjoy your new home – you deserve this blessing! xoxo

My Grandma: A Year Later

How has it been a year since I got that call that you had gone to be with Jesus and your Daves? How has it been a year since I sat at your bedside and held your hand for hours before I finally had to let go and say goodbye?

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My Grandma passed away a year ago today. This is the only “generations” photo I took with Arianna, my mom, and her although we had almost 7 years to capture others…

The big kids still ask about her. “How does she like Heaven and being with God?” They sing “See You Again” and then tell me they are glad they will see her again.

The twins will not know her in their earthly life yet I am confident they know their Great-Great. And likewise, she knew of them even before Greg and I did.

And I miss her. I miss her in my early mornings, especially when I smell coffee or read the Sun News (although online is not the same as the still crisp third-hand read I would get in her dining room). I miss her on Friday evenings when I am still not sure what to make for dinner because we had a 4 year pattern of being at her house. I miss her when I drive by “the field” where her body is, when we have a picnic at Aunt Wink’s or Uncle Dave’s, or when I cheer on my football team. I miss her when I feel like I am not being the best mom, I wonder if she now sees my family and is glad I had that “third kid” anyways. I miss her when I watch tears well in the corner of my mom’s eyes when we share the good memories. I miss her when there aren’t Christmas or birthday cards signed “Love you, Grandma” and think back to the messages she used to leave in them, gentle reminders of the love this woman had for each and every one of her kids, grandkids, and great grandkids.

Today is not going to be the easiest day for some of us, but that is ok. Grandma was loving and well loved. She may not always have seen eye-to-eye with each choice we made, but she loved us and should be missed as we do.

But today, even tho it is tough, I celebrate the good times. The 31 and a half years I got with my Grandma. The 10 years I got of her living in PA. The almost 7 years she had with Arianna and almost 4 with Evan. The woman that had a part in shaping who we are.

Love you, Grandma (Great).

We Will Ride Again

Last Tuesday, I spent some time with my brother at the hospital. Jack had been in a motorcycle accident about a week before, causing some internal damage that he didn’t know about until the pain was too much to ignore. By what I believe is a true work of God, he was put into a room with a fellow biker who had also been in an accident (a few years ago).

Without disclosing too much of their personal stories, what I do want to share is that I believe there was a reason they were put together. As we casually talked, so many things came up that made me feel the presence of God’s work in that room. The similarity of the accidents. The injuries. How there was road rash but no damage to clothes, yet torn clothes but no skin injury. He talked about c-section incisions even. And the chilling resemblance he had to other family members who’ve passed.

But the overarching message that I hope my brother heard from his roommate was to take care of himself. To not ignore the little things because life is more important, especially when you are given second chances. To enjoy life, but know there are some limits.

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Thankful for This 'lil Moment

As he was discharged, they exchanged a we will ride again. And while I believe it’s completely up to my brother whether or not he gets back on the back, I don’t necessarily believe this exchange was meant to be an “in this life”. It totally could have been a we will ride again, together in Heaven, exchange. Because I really think this man was part of a divine intervention, a witness to what life can bring your way.

I do hope you ride again, Jack. Both here on earth and when you have wide open spaces of Heaven to explore.

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These two have many years they want to spend with you!

Three Dads

There are three dads in our lives that are pretty awesome. We will be spending the day with them.

First, there is Greg. Daddy to our ‘lil Burghers and my teammate in this game of life.

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His Dad, Pops (or Pop Pop to the kids).

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And my Dad, or Pappy.

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I’ve had to rely on these three men more than ever the past 13 weeks, and I am so glad God put each of them in mine and the kids’ lives. What a blessing!

Happy Father’s Day.

Aunt Missy

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Happy Birthday, Aunt Missy!

God blessed me with a sister who he knew our moms could not have handled if born to the same families. We continue to be inseparable, and I am so lucky to have you.

But even more so…God made sure my lil girls (and boy) had a beautiful role model in their lives. A woman of faith and love. A tried and true friend. You learned from the best women how to be an aunt, and the kids are so happy to call you theirs.

Love you, and happy birthday!

And Then There Were Twelve

It’s been a week since we welcomed Ashley and her son to our family.

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We are now, officially, a family of twelve. A dozen of hearts representing so many beautiful things in this world.

A man who grew up in Harlem…

…who fell in love with a woman from Iowa after seeing each other across a crowded room at a Baha’i gathering…

…who married and then had a daughter, an avid reader who shares her love of books with all she meets…

…who is the sister of a boy who loved chasing birds and wanted to be a daddy when he grew up. He’d grow to fall in love with a girl from Pittsburgh and her daughter, forming a new part of the family and expanding with a son and two more daughters.

…who all are always made to smile by the passion and adventure of the youngest daughter of that man from Harlem and his farmer’s daughter wife. Last week, they welcomed her wife and son to this growing, diverse, loving family.

…and then there were twelve.

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Can you believe that the ‘lil Burghers make up six of the twelve? 

His Brothers & One of My Sisters

They don’t know it, but there are two very special boys who I think he considers his brothers. And I totally get it. This boy was blessed with three sisters, even though he desperately prayed for a baby brother.

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You are an amazing big (and little) brother that all three of your sisters are lucky to have. You love them all equally (and yet each in their own special way, never will they know that you used to believe Isla was your real favorite).

I get it, Evan.

God gives us cousins for a reason. The boys that I think my ‘lil guy thinks are his brothers are the sons of someone I consider a sister. Someone who is celebrating a very special birthday today. Someone who I consider a sister, even though God made us cousins instead. Just like he did with you and your “brothers”, Evan.

Happy birthday, Jess. This year is just another number and I pray that every year you continue to be blessed in multiple ways. Love you.

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Our Family is Growing!

It’s with a happy heart that I am proud to announce…our family is growing (again)!

Today, right now in fact, our sister Nurin is exchanging vows with her partner, Ashley. In a matter of a few moments, the Willis family will grow from the original five to a family of 12 as we welcome her and her son to our circle of love.

Now, time to get an updated version of this good lookin’ family photo, right?

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Congratulations, Nurin and Ashley. May you be blessed with many years full of love and memories. Love wins.

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(Did I scare some of you???)