The Stories We Tell: Caspian’s Mental Health Journey

Mar 25, 2021

By The Lyra Team

Caspian’s first experience with therapy wasn’t exactly conventional. “I was really young, and I wanted to see a therapist because a relative was seeing a therapist,” he recalls. “So for the most part, my therapist and I played Connect Four.” Fast-forward to over two decades later, when he found himself in the fast-paced and often stressful world of finance and in need of mental health support. 

Once I began my professional career, then I really started to see that there are a lot of stressors in my everyday life,” he says. Caspian started feeling anxious at work, and realized that throughout his interactions with coworkers, he was making assumptions about their actions that weren’t necessarily true, which exacerbated his stress.“Things would happen at work, and I would be incredibly frustrated–I was creating narratives that I would then base my thoughts and attitudes off of.” He says, “I found myself frustrated and more easily affected by smaller, day-to-day inconveniences, and wasn’t sure why. And try as I might to be calm–and I am a big proponent of meditation on a regular basis–I realized that maybe this was something I couldn’t do all myself. 

At that point, Caspian decided to search for mental health support options and, after searching his company’s benefits portal, found Lyra. “I wasn’t entirely sure of the benefits through my work, but I did some digging, and found out that my company fortunately was able to offer Lyra. I filled out the questionnaire and was instantly partnered with an amazing therapist.

Caspian’s therapist  taught him a number of techniques he could use during frustrating situations both on and off the job that might otherwise send him into a spiral of negative emotions. For example, his therapist recommended that Caspian try a three-point check–a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) technique that helps clients catch and change stressful thought patterns– whenever he was experiencing stress. This skill helped him regulate his thinking traps, which often made him feel unsure of himself. “And that’s where it was helpful to take a step back,” he says. “I’d evaluate: Is what I’m thinking true? No. So what am I doing? In this moment, I am making an assumption.”

He adds, “Going through the exercises my therapist suggested really helped me. Firstly, it would stop whatever I was thinking about from building up and snowballing. But also, it was good to have that perspective to recognize that the scenarios I was imagining about my peers were just actually assumptions.”  

Having a therapist with whom he can communicate easily has made the therapy even more effective, Caspian says. “I’m someone who prefers specific directions, and that’s something I was worried about when I first signed on for therapy,” he says. “But my therapist took that need in stride and absolutely used it in our sessions, and the way she listened and responded really meant a lot to me. I wasn’t judged for not knowing much about therapy and needing that type of guidance, and she catered her style of therapy to my needs. I benefited so much from that–beyond the therapy, that personal aspect was really significant.”

Working through his stress with a trusted therapist has given Caspian the skills to change his outlook and understanding of difficult situations. “It’s easy to think that your own perception is reality,” he says. “It was really crucial for me to understand how important the stories you tell yourself are, and I managed to do that by talking through it in therapy.” 

That understanding of the importance of inner narratives also helped Caspian look past the taboo around mental health that is prevalent in the financial services sector so he could seek the mental health support he needed. Employees in the finance industry are 1.5 times more likely to commit suicide than the national average–a statistic that underscores deeply rooted issues around stigma related to seeking psychological support. With long hours, high-stakes work, and competitive workplaces, working in finance can be challenging for employees’ mental health. This may contribute to low retention and high turnover rates for finance employees, especially among Millennial and Gen Z members of the workforce. 

While it was difficult for Caspian to set aside his reservations about getting mental health care, he eventually realized that the stigma around mental health support was yet another narrative that contributed to his stress at work.

Caspian says  that internalizing this stigma has contributed to his reluctance to talk about his mental health at work. Like a lot of U.S. employees today–nearly 40 percent in our recent survey–he says he’d feel uncomfortable discussing it in the workplace, even with peers. “I was so worried about someone thinking, ‘Oh, that’s Cass’ being dramatic, he can’t control himself, he doesn’t know his emotions.’ So I didn’t say anything, and I’d be very secretive about my Lyra meetings. I know my stigma is somewhat self-imposed, but I haven’t spoken about it at all because I am scared of what people will think.” 

Despite these fears, Caspian has learned that prioritizing his mental and emotional well-being is crucial, and believes therapy has been a driving force in helping him achieve his self-improvement goals, along with meditation and journaling. “I don’t just want to work towards being the best version of myself, and arrive at it like a final, lofty end point.” He says, “I want to continuously try to show up as the best version of myself, consistently, every day.”

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DISCLAIMER:

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.