Hat tip to the DOC for this post. Asking for help/therapy!
(Disclosure- please do not take this post as any medical advice or what you should. This is based off of my own experiences. I am not any kind of healthcare provider, so please consult with yours before trying anything).
Diabetes doesn’t make me weak.
A mental health diagnosis doesn’t make me weak.
My past doesn’t make me weak.
Asking for help- most definitely doesn’t make me weak.
Going to therapy doesn’t make me weak.
That doesn’t mean asking for help is easy. This is something I’ve actually struggled with my entire life. Sometimes I have to remind myself. It is okay to ask for help. It doesn’t mean you failed. People won’t judge you. You cannot do it alone.
This applies to so much of life-
but especially with mental health.
It’s okay to lean on and open to up your friends. That’s what they are for. (Especially when they are the family you choose).
It’s okay to ask for help when you don’t have all of the answers.
It’s okay to not know what you’re doing.
It’s okay to recognize when you need help and it’s okay to tell others that you need help.
It’s also okay to tell a friend that they might need help- they might need to hear it and have validation even.
Going for mental health services like therapy for whatever reason you need DOES NOT MAKE YOU WEAK. Whether it be for a mental health diagnosis, years after a diabetes diagnosis, because something feels off, for things that have happened in your life, medication, etc. It is okay. It is a part of health just like your physical health. We go to the doctor when we aren’t feeling great and it’s lasted for a while, right? Doesn’t this apply to mental health?
But we live in a taboo world.
The same type of therapy isn’t for everyone. Some people go for different amounts of time- for many different reasons. Maybe you go then stop and then go again when you need it.
But it can be expensive. It can be hard to find the right people.
I was forced to go a few times when I wasn’t ready, and most of the people were not a right fit for me. After my first few experiences, I was “done “with counseling. I wasn’t ready and hadn’t had a great experience.
When I got to college, I had a friend who urged me to go- and after going back and forth with it- I decided to give counseling a try again. I knew I needed it. I hadn’t grieved yet and had been in survival mode for so long- but I needed the push.
I was able to get it paid for at the college health center which was helpful.
I went to grieve. I went to work on relationships with people. I went to try and work on how I felt about myself. I also was placed in a group for talking about relationships with people- which for me was very exhausting- the idea of opening up to people stresses me out. This was all very helpful when I wasn’t good at self-care.
I then stopped at the end of my freshman year. We felt that it was the right time. Over the years, I’ve opted to look into therapy again. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn’t. It usually came down to expenses, the right fit, and my willingness/time to go.
For many other reasons that have come up recently, I plan on seeking therapy again where I live now (I have way more options in New England with my new health insurance).
I feel very comfortable knowing when I need to seek services now- it took me some time- and I try to make sure I don’t wait until it’s gone too far. I still catch myself feeling waves of shame though when I talk about it out loud, but I know it is something I shouldn’t be ashamed of.
When and Why? I think the moment you ask- do I need to ask for professional help? Is the moment you know- the answer is already yes. Also- when you just feel off or someone brings it up. I also firmly believe now that within a year or so of a life event, it can be beneficial to explore the option or finding support/communities with the “me too” impact.
How? Can depend on so many things like your access to care and costs. But luckily there are a lot of great organizations and providers who recognize this and find ways to help. I try to go based off of referrals when I’m looking for someone (especially from an endo or friends in the area).
It’s trying to see if the person is the right fit.
Then it’s about going- even when you don’t want to go and finding a time that works. For me, that is the hardest thing. I have to push myself to go. It can be exhausting- the day of or several days after. It’s not a quick fix. It takes time.
It’s also about not being ashamed or feeling weak or that you failed.
It is so important to open up to people and share what you are going through- you never know who might be in similar situation. But I find this incredibly hard to do in practice- I have a huge wall that I have to start breaking down before anyone else tries.
Mental health and a chronic illness? That’s important too- maybe someday we’ll have people more trained- and there are some people who are great with it or specialize in it. But that’s hard- especially in the south! So I like to find someone who is open to learning about it and/or based off of a referral.
It can be hard-asking for help and even considering the idea of therapy, but it’s worth it and important. Even if you have some bumps along the way or don’t have a great first experience.
There isn’t a one size fits all and maybe you’ll need to go again- but that is okay!
You are not weak. You are strong. Just like it is important to take care of yourself physically- it’s important to take care of yourself mentally- and what’s nice is sometimes those can go hand in hand. Asking for help is so needed. Therapy can be so helpful.
Moving past the stigma and shame to put these in your health toolkit- isn’t weakness, but strength.
Hey you! Yes, you!
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