What Made You Seek Help for Your Mental Illness?

September 20, 2012 Natasha Tracy

People often deny mental illness and refuse treatment, so what made you seek help for your mental illness? More at Breaking Bipolar blog.

What made you seek help for mental illness? Your answer could help people who love someone with mental illness because one of the questions I get more than any other is asked by loved ones. In short, people want to know how to help their loved ones get help for a mental illness. Some people want to know how to make their loved ones accept treatment. Some people want to know how to make their loved ones follow through with treatment, like take their medication. And some people just want to know how to convince someone that they have a mental illness.

I’m dealing with people who love someone with a mental illness who is refusing help, for one reason or another.

So I ask you – what made you get help for your mental illness?

Admitting to a Mental Illness is Hard

Many people refuse help for a mental illness because they refuse to admit they have one. I get this. No one wants to admit to being sick, let alone being sick in the brain. (And yes, your mental illness can make you believe you’re not sick.) So when you try to get someone to accept help for a mental illness, you have to overcome the fear of being sick as well as the fear of treatment. It’s no mean feat, really.

And remember, the person with the mental illness may not see problems the way those around them do. You might see that the person losing his or her job was directly related to a mental illness while the person may see that as unrelated. Sometimes we don’t see the problems sitting right in front of us, even those complete with evidence.

What Made Me Get Help for my Mental Illness?

For me, getting help seemed entirely reasonable and logical. After months of watching the symptoms of bipolar get worse and worse I simply knew I was going to die and I didn’t want to. I wanted to be free of pain and I saw treatment as leading to that goal. I’m actually astonished that more people don’t make this leap. But the fact is, they don’t.

What Made You Get Help for Your Mental Illness?

So I ask you, my readers, what finally convinced you that you had a mental illness that needed treatment? What finally happened that allowed you to seek out and accept treatment?

Help these loved ones and share what made you get help for your mental illness.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2012, September 20). What Made You Seek Help for Your Mental Illness?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 17 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleTwitter, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

Dr Musli Ferati
August, 10 2018 at 9:21 am

This question exhibits crucial step to comprehensive psychiatric treatment and management of any person who suffer from any mental disorder. Indeed, it is the main prerequisite to satisfying psychiatric treatment, because there are yet tremendous greediness in community toward mental disorder. People customary refuse to seek psychiatric help ignoring the fact that they may suffer from any mental disease. This antipsychiatric attitude seriously impedes and damages appropriate psychiatric treatment of respective mental illness. As a result, people with any mental difficulties avoid on time to seek professional help, and they come to any specialist of mental health too late, where the probabilities to successful psychiatric treatment become very weak. Therefore, it ought to seek and to accept the need of psychiatric help as soon as possible, without any hesitation and distrust, as well. In addition, where we have got difficult problems in global life functioning, for long time and without any objective external social reasons, the necessity of psychiatric treatment becomes urgent issue.

November, 20 2017 at 3:49 pm

I have had long standing stomach issues and have gone through nearly every test one can think of. I decided to see a new doctor for the problem and opened up about past aspects of my life that I had never opened up to anyone about before. This particular doctor noticed the signs and explained how it can impact my health in more ways than I realized. A few months later and I still don't know why I chose that moment to open up- I was really frustrated with my job at the time as well as where my life was headed. She urged me to talk to my primary doctor about it and at that point I began the journey to getting help and overcoming the roadblocks involved with my mental health.

April, 14 2015 at 6:46 pm

I was diagnosed last June. It confuses me because going through the comments it seems like a lot of people went through periods where they at least knew something was wrong, they were depressed, spending, other problems. Mine happened out of the blue. I had dental surgery and a week later I had a severe manic episode. Pressured speech, grandiose schemes, hallucinations, i didn't sleep more than like maybe an hour a night, the whole nine yards. I ended up being hospitalized for about a week and a half and was diagnosed as bipolar. It happened so suddenly, I just never had a problem with it before and it makes me question if maybe i was misdiagnosed. I`ve had many people tell me that they think it could have been psychosis triggered by the anesthesia. I am considering asking to be re-evaluated. Have any of you ever heard of anything like that happening?

October, 25 2012 at 9:54 am

I was 22, in grad school and engaged to be married. It was a 5 year relationship. We had broken up several times in the past, all do to mood issues on my part. I still lived at home and was regularly treated like a child. My fiancé was still in undergrad and also lived at home with controlling parents.
I started to feel like I was on a sinking ship. The first thing I threw overboard was grad school; I quit after a month. That worked for a while, but the pain was still there. The next step was breaking up with my girlfriend and dating a co-worker. I was extremely nasty to the fiancé, almost the equivalent of throwing rocks at an animal to make it run away (emotionally, of course, and not to compare the gf to an animal). Surely my choice of girlfriend was the problem!
Well, that didn't work either. I started therapy and antidepressants. By the time I got stabilized enough to see through the fog (3-4 months), the ex-fiancé had a new boyfriend and wanted nothing to do with me.
I now know that I've had dysthymia since I was 13, and the stress of my situation had pushed me into a major depression. I can manage it now (for the most part), but that doesn't undo the past. It's been 10 years, and I still haven't forgiven myself.

October, 24 2012 at 6:53 pm

Just today my husband finally told me he doesn't know what to do anymore and he is tired of getting his head bite off. That is probably the most true statement he has said to me.
I don't know what to tell him. I can tell him what not to do anymore to trigger this but I can't tell him what to do to help because I do not know.
He has been telling me for years I need sleep. I can't sleep. I try but I can't sleep. If I finally get some sleep and my 7 mo old wakes up, thats it, I'm done. I am awake until who knows when. I pull 24 hrs sometimes and not because I want to.
My guess is that sleep is one of the main culprits in how I am doing after having read some posts and articles here. The post on Oct 16 here described perfectly how I feel on a daily basis and how I struggle on a daily basis but could never quite put it into words to adequately describe my mood.
I am reluctant to tell others at this point about my new diagnosis for various reasons. Most people are poorly educated about Bipolar and then there are those who think they know about it but as one reader said, make comments not realizing how insulting they are. I am still having to wrap my head around this and I don't think I could deal with anyone else knowing right now.
My marriage is on the rocks and I am not sure it will work. My husband says he is still here, he didn't go anywhere but that he can not handle the nastiness. I don't blame the man, he didn't ask for this and neither did I. The racing thoughts get in the way of me believeing in him and our marriage.
My family has had to deal with my outbursts and they had no idea until I told them what it was. My oldest who is 21 seems to finally understand and my middle child who is 12 is starting to realize that when I am aggitated to stay away andmy two younger ones just hear mommy yelling, which isn't good at all. So this has affected everyone in my home.
So I would gladly take any suggestions on how my family can cope with me. I would rather they didn't have to avoid me everyday.

October, 24 2012 at 6:41 pm

Well, it is interesting to read all these posts.
I will turn 43 in about a week and a half and it was only last week I was diagnosed with having Bipolar Disorder. It all makes sense to me now.
What made me get help? Since I didn't actually know what the problem was, I can't say I sought help for mental health.
Last weekend I knew something was different from my usual feelings. Let me back track a bit. I have always been an angry person and I never knew why. I have always had ups and downs that lasted for days and I never knew why. I would go from wanting to cry for no apparent reason to wanting to rip someone's head off for something like driving too slow and then I would act like nothing was wrong. Then there were times that if I got angry, it was for something stupid, like my kids leaving a cup on the counter instead of putting it in the sink and that anger would last for days, as if I was holding a grudge. I will throw things, slam things, bang things around. I will yell and scream. To my husband and kids, I am way over reacting. My husband says all the time the level of reaction is not consistant with the situation.
About eight years ago I had gone to my GP because I could not physically stop crying, I was suicidal, I was angry, I wasn't sleeping and he put me on Paxil and sent me to a counselor. I told my GP the Paxil wasn't working so he upped the dosage and gave me Trazadone to help me sleep. Then he gave me Amytriptoline for depression and anxiety. I felt like a zombie so I stopped taking it but kept up with the counselor. That went well for a while, I felt like I had control of my anger. But then I don't know what happened.
I left a bad marriage and met my now husband, who by the grace of God is still here and I can't seem to bring myself to stop hating him. That being the racing thoughts in my head. He told me three years ago I needed help and I wasn't having any of it. He allowed his mother to get in my face and tell me I was a selfish person and an angry person and I didn't care about anyone but myself. I looked to my husband to get her to stop and all he said was someone else needed to say these things to me. I had severe post partum depression at that time and this is what I had to endure, so needless to say, I have stayed angry about this to this day. For many reasons.
I didn't feel right last weekend. I was looking at my family as if I was a stranger and they were not my family, something I have never felt before. My daughter came to me to say my three year old wouldn't listen, so I go to take care of the problem. He wouldn't put the cushions back on the sofa and I can not tell you how instantly and insanely angry I became. I wanted to pick him up and throw him through the mirror. I had not been that angry with him since I was going through the post partum depression three years ago and he wouldn't stop crying.
So last weekend my husband and I had one of our many very nasty scream in your face fights. I wanted to hurt him. I started to hit him and I didn't think I could stop. My three year old wrapped his arms around my leg and that brought me to a quick reality check but it soon left when my husband tried to take my son out of my arms. Anyway, these fights we have had..they have been many over the past four years and I can't tell you what a strain it has been on our marriage...get very ugly. I say very nasty things to my husband. I call him ugly names, I accuse him of cheating, I tell him he is get the point. Sad thing is, I can't stop until all the thoughts are out of my head and even when they are, I don't feel I am done and I don't feel right for days. I want to be left alone. I get quiet but stay irritated. I noticed lately that I have not been able to get control as quickly of my anger or thoughts of wanting to hurt him or myself.
I walked out of the house and told my oldest daughter I needed about a half hour to myself. So I drove to the local mall parking lot and sat in my van and cried. Then I got angry and screamed. Then back to crying and all the while I was thinking of how I wanted so bad to hurt my husband but I was afraid I would actually do something horrible to him or worse my children.
I ended up going to the ER and was admitted for two days and put on Depakote, 1000mg.
I do not know what this medication is going to do or what will happen. But I do know that I need help and my husband needs help learning to deal with me and how to handle when I am in some manic state because he can not talk me down, he makes it worse. I don't want my family ripped apart, let alone my marriage but I don't know what to do. I am hoping that when I finally see the Psychiatrist in a week and a half that they will be able to help get me to a point I am not so angry and don't want to hurt anyone anymore.
I'd like to enjoy life. I'd like to not be angry anymore. I'd like to not have racing thoughts everyday. I'd like to be able to really appreciate my family. I have a lot to learn about this but I am determined to not let it control me. I am determined to get to a point that I can function in life without so much worry.
I realize this is a long post, but thanks for reading.

dina marie
September, 24 2012 at 6:38 pm

My husband and I had no idea what was happening right before I "broke". It was 12 years ago and we didn't know anyone who was being treated for Bipolar or depression. Well, we thought we didn't know anyone. A good friend recognized what was happening to me and got me into her psychiatrist. She was a guardian angel to my husband and I. After I was diagnosed with Bipolar ll, all of a sudden my life and our marriage made sense. The signs had been there for many years but we didn't know anything about mental illness and it wasn't until I completely stopped functioning that this friend then saw it clearly and stepped in to save us. I never fought getting help because I needed that help so badly. Finding out there were answers gave us hope, and hope is what we would need for many years.

Ernie Richards
September, 24 2012 at 9:27 am

I did not consciously seek help for my bipolar, partly because I did not now I suffered from it. I received help after a major attempt at suicide and was taken to a different hospital than normal. There the psychiatrists actually made an effort to understand what was happening with me and I finally received a diagnosis that felt right. Then I was prescribed medication that is actually helping. I still have a long way to go in achieving some good stability but I really thank that psychiatrist because he saved me from myself.

September, 22 2012 at 9:47 am

That's a good question ... the reason I sought help was my wife pushed me into it by leaving ...(for a time) ... I suffer from mdd, social anxiety disorder, dysthimia, ptsd, and I am a diagnosed male borderline ... I didn't want to lose our relationship ... My wife also suffers from schizoaffective disorder, ocd, and ptsd ... She is the one who pushed me down the path I needed to go and it also helped her to start dealing some of the issues she had from her past ... Painful as it was (is) it was the best thing that could have happened ... We are now together and continually working on our issues and relationship ... Faithfulness is a very powerful thing ...

Natasha Tracy
September, 22 2012 at 6:13 am

Hi all,
I'd like to say thank-you to everyone for sharing. I believe this will be helpful for many.
It's interesting that everyone is talking about moments (almost like "hitting bottom") in their lives rather than the effect others may have had on them.
I sort of wish it were the opposite because loved ones feel so powerless when it comes to helping others with a mental illness. But regardless, I'd rather know what people really experiences, so thank-you.
- Natasha

September, 21 2012 at 5:44 pm

i could not tell which clothes were dirty or clean. I was also afraid to drive.

Just another med for the road
September, 21 2012 at 3:50 pm

My treatment came after a long, hard road of being mistreated by a few doctors. I went to the doctor originally because I thought that I was just constantly depressed. All he did was give me some Zoloft, and sent me on my merry way. I went back to him, told him the Zoloft wasn't working, so he decided that the milligram level needed to be raised. After he raised the level, I KNEW I was going insane. My poor family was taking the brunt of all my "issues" and not really liking me. After the Zoloft made me lose so much weight, the doctor then put me into the hospital for an Eating Disorder.
After being told I had an Eating Disorder for so long, throwing up was just another thing to add to the list of things I was doing on a daily basis.
Upon completing the hospital program, I had to sign a release stating that I would see a psychiatrist. She FINALLY understood, and began treating me for my Bipolar and ADHD. It has been a rough road trying to get the two medications to work together, but I think I'm on my way up.
My family might tell you differently, though.

Purple Dreamer
September, 21 2012 at 1:46 pm

I finally sought help for my anxiety and depression when it got to the point where I my behavior put my job in jeopardy. I had been seeing my GP regularly, and we tried a few different antidepressants with little success, so she suggested I go into therapy, (more like demanded) and I was so worn out that I took her suggestion. I was hardly functioning, making it to work just minutes before the day began, as opposed to the required start time, and upon the final bell of the day, I'd go straight home and straight to bed. My weight plummeted, my energy was gone, and it was all I could do to make it through my work day.
It has been an incredibly challenging journey, but nearly two years into therapy, I am so glad I followed my GPs suggestion, as therapy has been a life saver, literally.

September, 21 2012 at 9:29 am

I had KNOWN something was "seriously" wrong since I was a young teen.(age 13) My family was really struggling with dealing with me, and I was actually a very "GOOD KID." I had teachers accuse me of being on drugs (age 16) because I was so "UP", and I never even took a pain reliever unless I thought I was about to die from a headache. I also tried to convince my first husband that he should NOT marry me because I was 'crazy.'(age 18) When I was 21 I saw an OPRAH episode about Bipolar Disorder. I was almost EXCITED to report this to my new counselor because I KNEW this was me! But my counselor didn't want to diagnose this. She said my life would be ruined (it was 1989). She said my issues were "environmental". By the age of 29 I found myself newly single after 11 years of marriage, AND I had 4 little boys AND I was in the midst of a serious mania. I again sought help from counseling and again I did not get a proper diagnosis. I was put on antidepressants after about a year or so. WOOOHOOOO I married a stranger 3 weeks later!!!(I ended it after a few weeks because I knew that was even too crazy for ME) after about FIVE years of MANIC MANIC MANIC Behavior, I calmed back down. I remarried. About 4 years into it, I started getting that OLD MANIC feeling back... I could FEEL it and taste it! My breath tasted like MENTHOL. The HYPERSEXUALITY. The RAGING ENERGY. I felt like cheating on my husband with an old fling. Something I Had NEVER done in my life. That scared the crap out of me. I got my butt into a new counselor and got referred to a psychiatrist... that was July of 2007. I was 39. The roller coaster has not slowed down since then. I am still struggling every single day. Sometimes I wonder if the diagnosis has helped or not. It has helped me understand what is going on. It has provided me resources for support. But, I still feel 'crazy' and out of control. I'm afraid of how much damage has already been done to my brain because of all those years that I did NOT have treatment. I may always live in this constant 'mixed' state. I often wish I could just live in some type of hospital setting to keep ME safe.. to keep my loved ones from being burdened. So, my answer, I have actually been asking for help since I was 13. I just finally got the BALLS to insist on it when I was 39, and I was afraid of destroying my marriage by being unfaithful. Im still married by the way. He wont give up on me. I think he is nuts. :)

Isaac Sarayiah
September, 21 2012 at 9:15 am

I was going through a very difficult time and was severely depressed and sucidal.
I was in a psychiatric hospital but always refused medication as my problem was external and it wouldn't solve it. Medication to me - unless strictly necessary - just makes things worse as it hides one's true feelings and doesn't solve the problem at the root cause - plus you may get terrible side effects. My experiences have inspired me to create my own blog - to help others and is my views on Life, Love and Relationships. It was 1yr old last month and I regularly get over 10k visitors. I am very grateful to be alive.
I was also interviewed by Vice about suicide and you can read the article here: I will caution you though that it may be difficult reading to some as it is very candid.

September, 21 2012 at 8:25 am

I avoided the idea that I was mentally ill for years. In my thirties,I went for counseling due to depression and she suggested I see a psychiatrist. I was horrified, thought for sure I'd be on this terrible drug called lithium, or worse. It was another 10-15 years before I sought treatment again. My family doctor incorrectly diagnosed me as depressed, and I swung from up to down, lost 2 jobs, and flunked out of university. I wasn't until a nurse practioner suggested I see a psychiatrist. Best advise I've ever gotten. He diagnosed me as bipolar 1,put me gradually on a med cocktail and all is working so far. I often wonder how things would have gone if I had listened to the counselor all those years ago.

Amy Mullen
September, 21 2012 at 7:40 am

My employer, at the time, forced me to use our employee assistance plan to get counseling. It was either that or get fired. This was after several hysterical visits to my bosses office claiming that everyone on our row was "out to get me" and that "everyone hated me and judged me and that I just couldn't take it anymore!" I was convinced that one co-worker in particular was "turning everyone against me."
The therapist led to a psychiatrist which led to medication to control my Bipolar II. I always thought I was just sensitive and dramatic and different and that these things made me unique. It was hard for me to admit that my brain was sick to the point where I couldn't hide it from everyone anymore. I stay on my meds because:
1. I want to keep my job
2. I don't want to lose my boyfriend who I love dearly but was always pushing away because of my illness
3. My son deserves a better mom who doesn't spend the entire weekend in bed with her crushing depression and anxiety while he has to "fend for himself" so to speak.

September, 21 2012 at 7:08 am

I grew up taking care of alcoholics from the age of seven. I was so depressed but stuffed it because that was my job.
I started therapy about the time I was living with a girl that thought that I walked on water. I couldn't understand that.
But I sought therapy for a physical problem that haunted me for years. I found the best therapist I've ever had since and learned so much. About my tenth appt she said I want to introduce you to a colleague. He was a psychiatrist and I've been on meds since, 30 years ago.
So, I sought help for a physical issue not knowing that it was something altogether different.

September, 21 2012 at 7:01 am

The final straw was buying a handbag that cost more than my rent at the time ($1200). I had been feeling out of control but I finally realized there was more to my spending sprees than just stress.
Was diagnosed with Bipolar a month later. That was nearly six years ago.

September, 20 2012 at 10:47 pm

I got a job and only worked for one day. When I left the job that evening I had a major breakdown. I cried for days. I had to call them to quit. It was awful. My parents and husband said that I needed to get help. That was the breaking point although I had many breakdowns before and I even self harmed a lot. No one thought anything of these things. It's not normal for someone to completely lose it because their son got in trouble at camp, not really trouble just got told to talk to him. He was five. It's not like that was the first time, he has adhd. I also had a breakdown once when my kitchen sink overflowed. My parents and sister had to come over to clean it up because I was hysterical, beyond what would be normal. Plus it goes back all the way to me being a kid. I sought help when I was 33 that was 6 years ago. It's still a rough road but at least I'm getting help.

September, 20 2012 at 7:00 pm

Many times before I took some advice, I was offered advice from various people. Here's some of the things that did not help.
"It's not in my role description to help you with these kinds of problems. Here's the number for employee counselling"
"Look I can see you're not yourself. Why don't you get some help?" (from a 'best friend'of fifteen years, who has avoided me since)
"Oh, you've been in hospital. Oh that's alright then. I thought you were on ecstacy at my party. I won't have to defriend you after all"
"That's a dramatic story"
"(tears) you're just not the same person any more - I try but it's just all too hard for me - please get some help"
"ooh, hallucinations, cool!"
And so on.
It's not so much the form that these attempts take, or the words used, but the lack of actual concern for my well being, the implied stigma that once I was 'mental health' I was no longer their problem and they could wipe their hands and move on. Well, I wiped my hands and moved on too. To better people and a better life. Bipolar tends to accelerate things like that.

September, 20 2012 at 6:46 pm

For several years I did not seek help, for the usual reasons I suppose. Then a family friend asked me to house-sit for her and dog-sit her beagle for a week. When she and her husband came back, they treated me like a human being. She discreetly gave me a note sharing some of her experience and the usefulness of psychiatrists. That was the first time I actively sought help, despite having gone through several manic, depressive and psychotic episodes. It was really her nature and humanity that allowed me to trust her advice.
So, I went to my GP to ask for a psychiatrist referral. Bad idea. He was one of those pill pushers who talked me into trying some zoloft before he would write me a referral. That of course made things much worse, and I actually convinced Dad to take me to hospital because I had been 'poisoned' and needed them to cleanse my system of the poison.
4 years later my health is under control and my life on track again.

September, 20 2012 at 5:21 pm

When one aspect of my OCD got to the point that I was sitting in my bedroom at midnight crying for the who knows how many-th time - I had to admit to myself that I needed professional help, something I had denied even to myself for so long. And even once I started in therapy, it has taken a long time and it's an ongoing journey. And now my goal is working as a life coach, specializing in helping women break through their anxiety...Who would have thought?

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