I agree that despite how common it is, there is a stigma to simply participating in therapy, which is ridiculous because it is actually (to me) an indication that someone is aware and thinking and feeling and exhibiting the emotional courage to explore their inner "stuff." The stigma is that if you are participating in therapy there is something "wrong" with you; when in fact you are doing something very positive whether it's seeking help for something which is a difficulty for you or simply taking that inner journey with the courage to take that journey without knowing where it will lead.
I originally started therapy because I knew I had "stuffed" certain feelings; I grew up in orphanages, foster homes, etc. Ironically, given some pretty Dickensonian origins, I was able to obtain a good education and become a "professional." But I knew I had "stuffed" a lot of stuff to do so and my basic coping mechanism when I was younger was essentially, I'm special, I'm Superman, this stuff doesn't effect me, just watch me go. That, of course, is BS. I'm as human as the next person and what I had stuffed was the pain, hurt, anger and sadness of it. All those things needed "out" in order for me to be whole and myself. In some foggy way I knew that, hence I started therapy as I knew I would need a "guide" for this. I was in therapy long before I developed a "non-recurring severe depression, etc." (which was the result of long delay grieving, etc. which needed to be released) and the stigma attached to a mental illness/mood disorder is even greater than simply being in therapy. My particular profession could be described as a shark pool and that is viewed more as a sign of weakness, spilling blood into the shark tank, than with compassion. I've found that there's a much greater stigma associated with mental illness/mood disorder, even if it's of the temporary type, than there is to being a sober alcoholic. (Actually, many people don't have a clue what a "sober" alcoholic is or what that means). The irony is that both participating in therapy and remaining a sober alcoholic one day at a time require a certain amount of emotional courage, humility, honesty, ability to "make amends" when necessary (hey, we all screw up sometimes, that's why the words "I'm sorry" and "apology" are in the language) and willingness to face one's own "stuff" honestly and all of that is pretty healthy in my humble opinion. I'm convinced everybody could benefit from a little therapy at least at some point in their lives, and not necessarily at a crisis point. I can think of a few people I know who attach a negative stigma to it and they are precisely the people who (in my humble opinion) really NEED therapy and to look at their own stuff.
My friends are aware of all of the above with me; if they are my friends it is because I trust them and am honest with them. No problem. But I don't shout any of it from the rooftops. People bring their own perspectives and biases, positive or negative, to the information. Someone who grew up with an alcoholic father who routinely knocked them into the middle of last week is likely to have one perception and someone who knows somebody who they saw transformed from an active to a sober alcoholic is likely to have quite another. They're each entitled to their own opinions and feelings about it. Their opinions and feelings are their business and none of mine.
When meeting new people, I find that if I reveal any of this information, there is a natural course in the development of the relationship when this disclosure flows naturally, as with any disclosure about anything. I don't force it, nor hold it back when a relationship reaches that point. Acquaintances, etc. don't need to know. Also, as time has gone on I've become much less caring of what other people think of any of it; that's their business not mine. That's not to say it doesn't have ramifications in the "outside" world, it does; I've found that out in my recent job search. But that's not something I can do anything about.
I pretty new here myself "B" and I find this "place" and some of the insight and compassion (and chuckles) which some pretty amazing people bring to it very helpful. It feels like I've found new friends. Stick around. I'm glad you're here. I might suggest just "poking around" to various threads and it's amazing what you can learn - I did that and it helped me see that this "place" is genuine and also helped me identify the people who participate who are really worth "listening to" and engaging with; I'm not naming names because those are your choices anyway. It's just a suggestion but I know I found it helpful.
I'm also interested in hearing how you FEEL about your therapy as it goes along and as you get further into it (if you don't find that presumptuous or nosy of me). Sometimes what we can't see in ourselves we can see in others and it works as a "mirror" for ourselves and sometimes other people see things in ourselves which we do not or cannot. You would be helping me by doing so. That's the value of honest sharing.
Speaking of honest sharing, don't ever hesitate to call me on my own BS, being human I've got some. And being human there's always something someone else can teach me or show me or simply call me on when I'm being full of BS or I'm deluding myself or puffing my ego or whatever. I would only ask that you do it with compassion. But don't hesitate to do it, please.
Keep on sharing "B" (please). I enjoy your presence here and you add to the "positiveness" of this "room" by being yourself and being "present" and "in the moment" and honest here. I have a feeling you're one of those folks I'll find is really worth "listening to" (I already do). Besides, it's kinda nice to have a "fellow newbie" around.