When you’re facing mental health issues, admitting you’re not okay is a tough task. In fact, telling someone about your problems might be the last thing on your mind.
Mental illnesses are tricksters who like to convince us we have to go through everything alone. They take up a parasitic residence in your brain and love to inundate you with lies like “No one would care,” “You don’t have it that bad,” or “You’ll get over it.” And the worst part is, especially if you’ve lived with this illness for a while, you start to believe that little voice. Sometimes you don’t even recognize the own severity of your mental health issues because it has been your reality for so long. It’s the warped lens you’ve been forced to see the world through for years.
Regardless of what your brain has tricked you into thinking, remember this: no one is obligated to go through anything alone. Reaching out is the first step towards becoming okay. In order to help what’s going on internally, you must be willing to put it on view to the external world.
I know this is easier said than done. If you are someone who struggles with mental health and you instinctively avoid seeking help, you’re not alone. ReachOut, a mental health organization that serves teens and parents, lists many reasons why people don’t reach out for help. They say the key reasons people don’t seek mental health treatment include “stigma and embarrassment, problems recognizing symptoms, preference for self reliance, [lack of] confidentiality and trust, [and] hopelessness.”
I have experienced many of these throughout my life. Any time I have kept a mental health issue to myself, my brain presented to me a barrage of reasons to rationalize that decision. Maybe it was because I felt like it was easier to go through it alone, or I didn’t want my loved ones to worry. Maybe it was that I didn’t know who to confide in. Or I didn’t know how to put a complex feeling into words, or I didn’t even understand what I was going through. Maybe I had been feeling something for so long, I thought it was too late to bring it up, or I was so hopeless that I was thoroughly convinced no amount of conversation or therapy or antidepressants were going to help.
Despite these reasons that have occasionally popped up, I’ve pushed through. Why? Because the first step to solving something is to address it, to put a name to it. Most importantly, as I’ve alluded to, you must address it externally—by talking to someone about it.
Talking to someone about your problems doesn’t have to be a huge, momentous occasion. Depending on what you feel is appropriate, you might bring it up seriously or casually. There is no right way to talk about mental health; everyone’s experience is different. The important thing is that the words leave your mouth one way or another. If you allow that to happen, you are allowing people into your life as well as your problems. You’re telling them, “This is what I’m feeling and I trust you enough to help me.”
If you’re waiting for a sign to finally reach out and get that help you need, consider this your sign. Start small and work your way up: Talk to the people in your life. Hop online and look for therapists in your area. Talk to your doctor about medication or other help they can recommend you.
You may have convinced yourself that this is your reality. You think some universal force has cursed you to be unhappy for the rest of your life and there is nothing (absolutely nothing) you can do about it. That’s far from the case.
Take a moment and look around. Look at the people in your life who love you, who would be heartbroken if you didn’t exist. Do you truly believe they want to see you suffer in silence? No. Trust them, trust their love for you, and let them help you in your fight.
And at the end of it all, remember that this will pass.