Mental health is one of those topics that are so well talked about in the world right now. There are so many ads that just pop up about online therapy services and then there are also a few national health observance days that are celebrated throughout the year. However, just because mental health is all “in our faces” doesn’t mean we’re really doing something about it.
I wanted to write this blog post because of my own personal experience of this year. I wanted to clarify first, I am not a licensed mental health professional by any means and I am just a woman who have experiences with mental health. It’s been years on my blog that I’ve written on mental health-related topics because I’ve been struggling with it for nearly most of my life.
One thing I’ve really noticed from mental health is how it ebbs and flows throughout our lives, some years will feel harder than others and I think it’s all determined on life circumstances and life changes. I can see from my own experiences that I’ve had some less-troublesome years with my mental health and some that bought upon greater challenges, like this year.
Last summer, my father passed away unexpectedly on our vacation and I dealt with so many symptoms of depression, anxiety, and PTSD that crept up on me the months following that tragedy. This year on that recent loss taught me a few things about mental health (and mine) and I wanted to share with you why it is so important to seek help for your mental health too, if you suspect that you are struggling with it. I’m currently seeing a therapist that specializes in EMDR and DBT and also see a psychiatrist too, and I’ve had my experience in therapy from other years and I can confirm how life-changing seeking help really is.
1. It can give you the boost you need out of life’s struggles.
I’ll be honest, I was kind of reluctant to go find help right after a major tragic event happened in my life, and that isn’t the way it should be: you should seek help as soon as that happens! However, it was rough with me having to move out to a new place and I lost my health insurance slightly after, so I understand that sometimes people delay getting help due to that or may not be in a fortunate position to pay for therapy, as it gets really expensive.
I thought that I could power through some of my symptoms and I’ve always been an advocate to experience positive psychology or neuroplasticity, which is the ability to change the nervous system through rewiring the brain through stimulating it in learning and experiences. I’ve come to realize that sometimes doing things for neuroplasticity is NOT enough when it’s evident you may have a chemical imbalance.
In that case, you need medication management to intervene. That’s what I realized after doing so many positive things like socializing, being out in nature a lot, reading the Bible, exercising, eating right, working on my side gigs, but would you believe me those were not enough to make me feel better? It’s okay to admit to yourself if maybe you need more help, through means of a mental health professional who can evaluate you or diagnose you, even if it takes having to be on antidepressants to be a boost for you. I am still a fan of positive psychology, but it’s also best to combine that with other forms of therapy.
2. You can improve your relationships.
Relationships are the most important part of someone’s life and it’s so important to go into a relationship, whether it’s platonic or romantic or with your co-workers or with family, with healthy emotional intelligence. When you work with a mental health professional, you will figure out certain faulty core beliefs you have, triggers, patterns you have in your communication with others, how to manage conflicts and emotions, and generally catch things that you may not have recognized about yourself. Many of these realizations and lessons will help you strengthen the relationships in your life and reduce the frustrations and the conflicts, or help you recognize what you can control and what you can’t. (After all, we can’t control the agency or actions of others, but ourselves.) You also get to improve the relationship with yourself, the most important relationship there is.
3. It can minimize your risk of developing other health problems.
Some mental illnesses can be linked to other conditions, particularly physical diseases and conditions. For example, anxiety and depression can lead to an increased risk for heart disease and diabetes. It can also create other mental symptoms or shape your behaviors if the mental condition is not managed and neglected. Seeking help, through a therapist or psychiatrist (or both), will decrease your chances of developing those.
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4. You will learn coping strategies that will benefit you.
Many people find some coping strategies through numbing the pain away with the use of substances and other vices, but we all know those aren’t healthy ways to cope and rather more damaging to the body and brain. You may not even have coping strategies and find yourself internalizing a lot of the pain to yourself, which can lead to trauma and depression. With therapy, you will be educated with several exercises on how to cope with emotions and open up the possibilities of what things you can do to cope by identifying activities that improves your mood and outlooks in life. These become lifelong skills that you can take with you as years pass by too.
5. You will increase insight on self-awareness, confidence, and emotional regulation.
Sometimes I think a therapist is like a teacher because they use what they studied to inform us of what we’ve been needing to hear. They will teach us about ourselves, even if we’re not self-aware. But, self-awareness becomes this ongoing practice and I believe is the “cure” to many of our personal issues. And like I said, sometimes medicine is what should be used to intervene because it can really help boost up the brain chemicals like serotonin to be able to regulate your emotions and give us the push to feel lighter and joyful.
6. Other areas of your life can improve.
With depression, you can start to feel like doing so many things become overwhelming for you than if you weren’t in a constant calm and you may find your to-do list unchecked for a while or you may push off things. Seeking help will help us identify what we should prioritize and what systems we can set up for ourselves to combat those overwhelming emotions.
You can envision that your ideal home is an organized and clean one, that your ideal relationship is stable and not with high highs and low lows and a constant safe space, that your ideal work environment is not micro-managed, and that your ideal secured self is where you don’t question yourself constantly or feel low about your self-esteem. By creating these visions, you can bring them to therapy to figure out where to start to make these visions into tangible goals. Those multiple areas of your life will not suffer and can gain your attention and in return, improve the skills you have and then improve the environment and your emotions.
7. Your courage to seek help will inspire you and others.
I think for most of us when we hear others that we personally know are seeking help, it creates this powerful influence towards us, especially if that person is open to explaining what changes and transformations they’ve gone through. Many of those times where we meet people who are open about discussing these things, they may credit therapy for it. You seeking help will not just inspire your own self to be this healthy version of yourself, but you will change generations after you when you build your own family from the things you’ve learned upon in becoming this healthy version. You may inspire your own friends and family to take the initiative to get help and that, to me, is amazing and the best kind of love to show others.
Where to Seek Help
It can be confusing where to start to seek help with so many resources and links out there, but this link from National Institute of Mental Health has suggested information on hotlines and organizations on where to go.
Life is really what you make it.
I love self-reflecting a lot and take it as an opportunity to learn into myself, especially each month I’m growing older. And what I’ve learned.. life is really what you make of it. Your choices will affect the rest of your future choices. You can always start new and venture out to different opportunities or relive what you liked and knew. Life is full of unpredictable circumstances and changes that are testing you to lean on not just God, but to lean on your own survival. You will find yourself no matter what direction you decide to go towards or no matter what things happened in your life that were out of your control. No matter what trauma you’ve endured and how it left scars on you, you can always choose to let it succumb over you or let the healing take place no matter how long it does, if it’s a decade or your whole life. It’s a constant choice to have to choose what’s the hardest but the most progressive for you.
But I swear that your story never ends where you think it will. Your stories begin again the moment you choose a new choice for you and continue to work on and accept that, and the hard work that goes into all that. You will find yourself no matter what.
I guess this is to say, and this is probably destigmatized now, but after neglecting almost a whole year of when I should’ve went in, especially after major life changes… I’m finally going to start therapy again this week. It’s been way overdue. This may not seem like a biggie to others but to me, it’s choosing to learn to break through my hurts and to recognize what can be healing. To me, I am so proud of myself.
It can be hard for anyone to just do and start the thing that is hard. You may relate and think “oh I don’t need it, I’ll get better on my own”. Trust me when I said I tried everything that doesn’t require help, I have tried the process of neuroplasticity that has kept my head above the water FOR YEARS but sometimes it’s not enough. Sometimes you need a hand and a professional to guide you through.
So this is my message to y’all, please don’t negate the importance of seeking therapy for yourself. You deserve to be heard, seen, educated, and encouraged.Some thoughts I wrote on social media once