Expressing that you suffer from depression or anxiety or experienced some difficult adverse life event is a courageous act. One of the reasons it is courageous is because as a society, asking for help with a mental health condition such as depression or PTSD is considered weak. “You just need to get over it.” What if just like when we have flu like symptoms, we recognize that we need help because the fever, congestion, aches are not going away on its own. Instead of denying to ourselves that we are suffering from unrelenting sadness or anxiety, we pick up the phone and call for a counseling appointment. What if we broke our leg, would we continue to walk on it, tell people that nothing is wrong despite the femur bone protruding through our skin? Would we continue to writhe in pain and scream and cry because going to the doctor would mean that we are weak. Chances are, unless you are an anomaly, you go to the doctor or the ER to work on your recovery from the injury or illness. Feelings for most are considered a weakness which is a cultural construct that has been continually reinforced over generations. Most advertisements for mental health treatment focuses on demystifying the idea of treatment. How many billboards do you see where we are encouraging people who suffered a broken leg to get help?
Untreated mental health problems do not get better on their own by doing nothing. Talking about your feelings is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. Asking for help is moving yourself from a victim to a survivor; showing resilience when facing adversity. To go against society stereotypes and generalizations such as mental health problems makes you weak, takes strength and courage because not only are you willing to go against societal norms, you are willing to face something scary. Bravery or courage is not the absence of fear, it’s about facing your fear and it doesn’t matter if you face that fear alone or with support. “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional,” a quote by Haruki Murakami and a construct of many of my therapy sessions, guides my intervention to help people recognize that pain will happen in our lives but we have control in how we manage that pain and grow from the experience no matter how painful. The earlier we recognize the symptoms and ask for help the better chance we have for recovery. What if, like with our primary doctor’s well check appointments, we have yearly well check appointments for our mental health. We do that with current clients, but maybe if everyone had yearly mental health well checks, problems would be caught earlier and people would be more willing to tend to those mental health needs like we tend to our physical health needs. If you are suffering in any way and need help to face the fears inside, please call Life & Purpose Behavioral Health so we can help you start your journey to wellness. It starts with you!