Most of us suck at asking for help. We’re not sure if that’s a girl thing, an Irish thing, or a human thing. Asking for help with our mental health is a whole other level of nope. “I’m fine, everything’s just peachy, thanks for asking.”
According to Clinical psychologist John Mayer, this is often because we feel like we don’t deserve help, or we can’t really see or articulate how bad we really feel. ‘It’s an insidious condition that makes it hard to see clearly what is going on.’ he says. If you’ve been there, you know that sometimes, asking someone to help seems like the hardest thing in the world, even though we know that once we get the words out, we will instantly feel better.
Next time, why not substitute “I’m fine” with one of the following, and open up a conversation with someone who cares about you…
‘I feel so lost, trapped and like everything is out of my control’
The irony of saying this is that you immediately regain some control of the situation. It’s a start, the first step.
‘Can you make my appointments?’
This can be a huge barrier in some peoples recovery, as some days, it’s all too much. Ask a parent or a friend to set up appointments with your counsellor. All you need to do is show up.
‘I’m a little overwhelmed’
This is a good way to show the people who care about you that you’ve taken on more than you can handle for now. When you’re struggling, it may feel like it’s obvious to the world, but it often isn’t and people are consumed with their own lives. This is a good way to flag that you may need a little help for a short while until you get back on your feet.
‘Can we cancel going out and stay in instead’
There’s no shame in this. If you constantly cancel plans, your friends might think you’re a little flakey and unreliable. Let them know that you’re doing your best and that sometimes at the last minute you will have to accept that you need to be home, where you feel safe. When they know and understand, they won’t mind, and they’ll respect your decision.
‘I want to say I’m fine, but you know what? I’m really not’
Maybe you don’t know what to say, or what will make you feel better, and that’s OK. But this one shows that while you’re doing your best, this is just a bad day.
‘Today is not a good day for me’
There may not be a reason or a cause, it’s just a bad day, full stop. Take some time to sit and talk with someone you trust and hopefully they will understand and support you without trying to fix insignificant things.
‘Can you text me instead of calling?’
This is a big one. Talking on the phone or in-person can be a big trigger for anxiety. But you might not want to be completely isolated. Social Media can be a great tool, chatting online can bring you some comfort and reassure you that you’re not alone.
‘I would really benefit from some company’
This can be a difficult thing to do, as depression can make you want to be alone, but just an hour with a friend for a coffee can boost your mood. Even if you don’t want to talk, you can just listen.
‘Can you make sure I get up in time?’
The symptoms of depression can be physical, and you might find you need more sleep. If you’re afraid that you’ll sleep through an alarm, and miss work or appointments, give someone else the job of waking you. It’s one less thing to stress about.
‘I’m struggling to manage my self-care’
Self-care is not all massages and bubble baths. Depression can sometimes make it hard to shower or take your meds. Can you ask someone to come over and cook for you, drive you somewhere, help you organise yourself?
Remember, asking for help is a sign of integrity and strength. You would never give up on someone you love. Don’t give up on yourself.
If you need more help, go and see your GP, or get in touch with any of these organisations.