Mental health can be a scary topic. It seems serious and difficult to deal with, so medical that the idea of it is unapproachable. But, whether you’re mentally ill, struggling with mental health or just overwhelmed, we can all benefit from asking for a little help.
Asking for help doesn’t mean giving up or accepting defeat, it’s just about acknowledging that we might need support. The first step for getting help with anything is realising that we have a need for it. It’s a moment everyone has had in some form in their life.
The problems that arise in our lives are as varied as we are, and whether we need help for an emotional struggle, a physical one or intellectual one, the process is the same.
When I first moved away from home, I had a new washing machine. I’d used washing machines before, but with this one I couldn’t work out the different buttons. I tried googling it and I couldn’t figure it out at all. A problem had come up and I tried to solve it myself, which didn’t work.
The sensible, grown up thing to do would have been to ask for help, but if it was that easy, I wouldn’t be writing this article. From embarrassment to stigma to feeling overwhelmed, tired or lonely, there are so many reasons we have that stop us asking for help when we need it.
In the case of the mysterious washing machine, I was new to town. Not knowing anyone very well, I was scared to embarrass myself and didn’t want to be thought of as stupid. So, I worked my way through my clothes and watched my washing pile build and build.
The more the pile grew, the bigger the weight of my blunder felt. When we don’t ask for help when we need it, things can often grow out of proportion and feel more and more impossible to fix, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be fixed.
Eventually I had a skeleton sized load of dirty laundry in my closet and I knew I had to ask for help. But that didn’t mean it was easy.
When you know you need help with something, it’s important to identify the best person (or organisation) to ask. Find someone trustworthy, either a friend or family member that you can rely on, or in the case of mental health, a service dedicated to that purpose.
I asked a friend to help and ultimately asking for help was nowhere near as difficult as I had built it up to be in my head. She was helpful and kind. It’s never too late to ask.
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‘The problem was being alone because that is when the thoughts would start. I would forensically take apart every interaction I'd had that day; what had I done wrong? How much of a fool had I acted? Who hated me and how much? Had I showed my anxiety to anyone? This level of analysis and self-loathing inevitably led to depression and emotional isolation. I convinced myself that friends didn't really like me and I was better off without them. I would move on and try to start again. I had lived in six different countries on three different continents by the time I was 26.⠀ ⠀⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ‘But I couldn't outrun myself.’⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ Catherine blogs about how she started to make sense of her life when she found out about avoidant personality disorder. ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ Read her full blog at mind.org.uk/YourStories⠀ ⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ #avoidantpersonalitydisorder #selfloathing #selfawareness #selfconsciousness #hope #mentalhealthawareness
We all have our elusive washing machines, from mental health difficulties to being bullied or harassed or struggling with sexuality, domestic abuse or addiction. It could be anything, big or small, that you find yourself needing a helping hand with, maybe it is just a washing machine. And that’s okay. As much as someone could help you today, you’ll help someone tomorrow.
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, in the UK the NHS has a great list of resources you can use: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/suicide/
Internationally, have a look here for more information: http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html
By Kahina Bouhassane