From a young age I have strived for independence. To be self-sufficient. To not rely on the support from others. How I wish someone had got through to me sooner that sometimes, just sometimes, that isn’t the best course of action…
Whenever I talk about mental health, I talk from both personal experience and professional training. Most of the time they both share a common message. But sometimes, it brings conflict within me that I have to express.
You see, while I share the core tenant that people should reach out to others for support, I would not often give myself the same permissions. Or the same encouragement even. No, I have a tendency to hardball it until life gets a little too overwhelming. Help is not accepted until burnout has been reached.
I am still trying to unlearn this constant push to internalise everything, for the sake of independence. In recent years I have gotten a lot better with this. I make more of an effort to talk to others when I feel isolated or lonely. I express my despair and let my partner know when I need a little extra support. And you know what, that is so healthy.
I know that I’m not the only one like this. There are many people out there, maybe yourself included, who find it difficult to ask for help. While I applaud your aspirations to be a resilient individual, who doesn’t need anyone else to get by, I have to warn you that the outcome of all this looks bleak.
Now, I am not naïve enough to think that in this day and age, when mental health services are increasingly being cut of funding, and the zeitgeist spread throughout our society is one of working hard and pushing through, that we have the luxury to completely depend on one another. But that’s not what I’m asking you to do.
If you relate to this at all, I want you to practice acknowledging your limits. When you can do this, I then want you to practice asking for help. Whether that be from a friend, family member, co-worker, teacher, boss, neighbour, etc. You are not alone in this life, and so you should not act as if you are.
The best way to reaching your potential, to live healthier and happier, is to connect with those around you. We are social creatures after all. One of the best ways to do this is to help one another. Put it this way, if you have no problems helping someone else, then why should it be a problem for them to help you?
Please do not let your pride get in the way of your wellbeing. I know mine had for a long time, and I’m trying to make up for that now. Work through whatever it is that is holding you back, and take that leap into trusting someone to help you. Asking for help is your greatest strength.
UK MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT LINES:
Mind (Mental Health Charity) – 0300 123 3393
Samaritans (General Support) – 116 123
BEAT Eating Disorders – 0808 801 0677
NHS Emergency Helpline – 111