When I think of the word ‘help,’ I oddly picture a scene from that TV show Lost, circa 2006. Someone is in a raft, half underwater, screaming for help. And then I realize how jaded the media has made me. That aside–that rather ridiculous image–asking for help can be really hard. It is usually the most difficult when we are first diagnosed with a mental illness. Unfortunately, that’s when those who live with mental illness need it the most. This blog will explore why it can be so hard to ask for help and the steps we can take to make the process easier.
Why Is Asking for Help Difficult?
Let me preface this by stating: We all struggle, at some point in our lives, with feeling uncomfortable asking for help and we all have differing reasons why. That aside, let’s explore some of the common reasons:
>When we are first diagnosed with a mental illness we suddenly need help from psychiatrists, our family and friends and even those who don’t really know us at all– Community support workers and social workers for example. Suddenly all of these people are in our lives. The initial diagnosis is scary and realizing we cannot recover on our own, that we do require help, is frightening as well. We all want to be self-sufficient in life.
>As we work to become well, not an easy feat, we come to an understanding: We cannot recover on our own and with this realization is a feeling of powerlessness.
>We fear that if we do accept support from people, those same people will leave us once we become well.
>We fear becoming dependent on people; we fear we will be unable to function without them.
These examples all involve fear and this makes sense. It makes perfect sense. Being diagnosed with a mental illness is probably the most frightening thing that will ever happen to us and allowing people to help us is not easy. We want to tackle life on our own, but learning to ask for help and accepting it is part of self-care.
Learning to Accept Help When Recovering From Mental Illness
It’s important to remember that people want us to succeed. Our doctor and our family and friends are on our side–working with us to recover and become part of life again. And we will, it just takes time and patience and, you got it, allowing people into our lives.
Throughout my journey with mental illness–over a decade of trying to figure the whole thing out–I have a learned a few things that have helped me accept support:
>Remember that people all fall from time to time and we will be there to support those who have helped us in our recovery when they need it–Returning the favor.
>We do not need to feel shame associated with accepting help or feel that accepting help is a weakness. Focus on becoming well again.
People want to support and help us in our recovery–it often makes them feel good. Doing positive things for people brings meaning to our lives. Life isn’t always easy (no kidding!) and neither is it always difficult. When it is difficult, and when you need support, take a minute and ask yourself if it’s really such a bad thing.