Struggling? Afraid to ask for help?
The truth is that we will all face challenges in life. Sometimes we will manage well on our own but at other times we can find ourselves struggling, feeling stuck and not knowing what to do next. We all have a limit and dealing with a number of stressors can lead to a breakdown. This is why self-awareness, self-care and self-compassion is so important.
Mental health difficulties are very much in the public awareness now. As a Counsellor I believe that this is a good thing. As we understand more, some of our prejudices and fears are dispelled. People from all walks of life and every age can be affected. In the past this was very much hidden and considered a source of shame and embarrassment. People were encouraged to keep quiet and not tell anyone. Unsurprisingly this added to peoples' distress. Whilst there remains some stigma it is my hope in writing this article to dispel some of the myths and misunderstandings about this.
Mental health just like physical health is very complex and manifests in a multitude of ways. Our mental health is just as important as our physical health but often it gets neglected.
Some of the difficulties I see in my consulting room are anxiety, stress, depression, feeling low, low self-esteem. These could be caused by something long-standing or something that has happened recently.
Do you struggle on and pretend that you are absolutely fine? Do you think that asking for help is a sign of weakness? Do you think that mental health difficulties are only experienced by people with severe chronic difficulties such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia?
I believe that it is a good thing that people are now being encouraged to talk, to share their experiences. When we experience a life changing event such as a divorce, death, loss of a job it is normal to have strong feelings - perhaps anxiety, sadness, anger. Perhaps your difficulty is something which you have been unable to express - a miscarriage, being unable to have children or something else? The important thing is to process these feelings. Counselling is a place where this can happen with a professional who will offer you a safe place to reflect on what has happened to you.
If we bottle up our feelings we may find that we have physical symptoms such as headaches, a sensitive stomach and panic attacks. Sometimes people have nightmares which reflect their anxieties. Are you finding that you are self-harming to alleviate your distress? Are you drinking more than is healthy or using drugs or cutting? Are you becoming withdrawn from colleagues, family and friends?
It takes courage to ask for help. This is not a reason to feel shame or that you are being weak. If you are struggling perhaps some professional support could be helpful.