When Do I Make the Call?

DeeDee newEveryone tells me I hold out too long. I don’t ask for help often enough or soon enough. I tell them that I don’t know when to ask; they don’t seem to understand.

I’m learning to recognize when things are going awry and when what I’m feeling should be considered “unacceptable” because it’s suffering, not pain. I’ve accepted, at least at an intellectual level, that everyone needs help sometimes, including me. That’s been no easy task.

My therapist says that I’ve lived with this for long enough that I should be able to recognize triggers and mood swings coming on. The truth is that I’m just now starting to be adequately self-aware to properly observe and describe my own emotional state, and feel utterly unprepared to make judgments about how to address problems. But this is something I must learn to do.

As I worked on developing a safety plan (post to come) it became painfully obvious that I really don’t know when to intervene. I know what the worsening progression of symptoms looks like, but somehow can’t figure out when I really need to reach out for help. As my therapist has told me several times, I have to own up and let others know when I’m not doing well. I’m willing to try to do that – even aching to at times – but I don’t know when to make that call.

Chickadees don't make very good cartoonists.

Chickadees don’t make very good cartoonists, by the way.

I’ve been told by all my doctors, and even a few friends, that I should call if I need anything – but I don’t. I always rationalize it by saying that the current crisis won’t last and by the time I could get in to see someone, it would be over. My therapist reiterates that I should call as soon as I recognize that things are going off and that early intervention is important. He gave me his cell number and personal email address, so I guess he means it.

But most often, the crisis state trigger is hormonal and I just have to wait it out, even though I can’t really function in the meantime. No one can do anything about hormonally-induced mood swings that I haven’t yet been able to get the medical services to address. So my thinking is, why call and waste everyone’s time? Neither they nor I can actually resolve the problem, so sounding the alarm just makes more of the issue than need be – and that is certainly a self-invalidating thought process.

Today (as of writing this, anyway) marks the third day I’ve been crying; it’s been getting worse and not better. According to my safety plan, I should take the day off and call or email my therapist for an appointment. But we already have an appointment for Tuesday, and I can’t take the day off – I have an important conference call in a few hours. I don’t know how to reconcile the ideal with the reality because I have always been my second priority.

And even as I wrote this, an offer of help that would let me take the day off arrived. Now the question is, can I set aside my pride long enough to accept the help that I know I need?

I told my boss I was ill, took the day off, and emailed my therapist. As agreed.

Addendum: Since I was still crying three days later, I made an emergency appointment with the psychiatric nurse, and I’m trying a new add-on antidepressant. I also added a therapy appointment next week. Everything will be OK, eventually.

© DeeDee and A Canvas Of The Minds 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to DeeDee and A Canvas Of The Minds with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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199 thoughts on “When Do I Make the Call?

  1. I find that I don’t have a problem asking for help, it’s that I may need it to much so people don’t want to help me anymore.

    I’m glad you were able to ask for help! There is nothing wrong with it! I always try to think that I look sillier when I don’t ask :p

    • Yeah, I’m generally a little too proud to ask for help until I’m desperate. But I also don’t have very many people to ask, and I don’t want to overstress them. It’s so hard to guess at just how much I can “dump” on someone when I need to talk, but I work pretty hard at making sure I don’t overwhelm my husband.

    • When we ask for help, the people we turn to also know that if they need help in the future that they can ask for help too. If we all ask for help when we feel we need it, and I mean long before its already a crisis, we will all become stronger and wiser. Asking for help opens up a whole new world of opportunities to help ourselves and others. So just ask.

      Problems don’t last forever, and people who ask for help will always find the answers.

  2. It’s all part of the learning process this, not just the learning how to ask and when to ask, but having the confidence to be able to admit that you need to ask – and I reckon that that’s the scariest bit of all, having to open up to other people to say that actually, it’s not OK just now. Even if it is “just hormones” – which are never merely “just” because they can really work us over.

    The line “a woman is like a teabag, you only find out how strong she is when she gets into hot water” springs to mind. The problem is, we become the teabag that’s been in the pot for too long, had at least twice the recommended amount of water poured on us and have been beaten up with a spoon until the bag bursts and we spill our tea leaves everywhere.

    • Oh, I love that metaphor! And some of us were overstuffed teabags to start with and ready to burst from the start.

      I agree, it’s a learning process, and it also has a lot to do with acceptance. I couldn’t bring myself to call in sick (so to speak) until my supervisor said, “if you’re ill, you shouldn’t be on the conference call, whether or not I can attend instead.” That was enough to make me follow my plan – I just needed someone to reassure me that I was making the right choices.

      All too often there’s no one there to validate the fact that I really shouldn’t even try to work, so it’s up to my judgment. And I don’t trust my judgment at all when I’m feeling off, so I tend toward conservatism and just keep to myself. Argh.

      • You have a good supervisor there, telling you to take the time off.

        Self-validation is a difficult one, and the depression really doesn’t help, because it becomes this horrible little voice telling you that you’re just making it up and that you’re just attention seeking and that no-one cares about you anyway.

        I sometimes wish we could all find those little voices in our heads and get rid of them, but I have a feeling that strangling them only makes them worse. It’s love and self-confidence that makes them go.

        • Self-validation also takes practice, and I’m working on it. The horrible little internal voices are exactly what I’d like to get rid of these days.

          • It would make life so much easier if we could somehow kill them off, instead of having to learn how to ignore them until they get bored and go away.

            It’s like having the school bully inside your own head. *sends hugs*

            • Or even when we leave school, we just find them in other forms. Which is really rather inconvenient. On the plus point, we find our coping techniques. Mine is knitting or crochet – I was once bought a bag which had on it the slogan “I knit so I don’t kill people”.

            • I gave it to one of the Sisters whose existing knitting bag was falling apart and beyond repair, and who also knits so she doesn’t kill people.

              I think the worst sort of bullies are the passive agressive ones, the ones who say “you can’t say/do that to me/make me do that/etc because I’m X, Y or Z, or because I’ll do A, B, or C”. Like, the people who you feel you’re constantly on eggshells around because if you say something in slightly the wrong tone of voice, they’ll think you’re having a go at them when you’re not, and they’ll turn it back on you, rather than accepting responsibility for their own happiness.

  3. I don’t know when to ask for help either. I might wonder about it, toy with it, but I’m never sure I really should. So I know how hard it was to accept the day off and call your therapist–Good for you, that’s awesome you put you first! Feel better!

    • I don’t think I actually could have phoned him – it puts too much pressure and urgency on the situation and I am never really sure it’s that serious. So I was glad he gave me his email address, so I could take my time with what to say, and I’m just more comfortable with text than phones.

  4. This question is so individual, and even then, it’s really hard to answer. I think I said something to you before about looking at it as if it were someone else (feel free to use me). If I had been crying for three days straight — and you know I get the hormonal, just for different reasons — well, at what point would you have decided “unacceptable”? How long would you have watched me spiral (up or down) before you nudged me and said, “Hey, we need to do something to help you?”

    I think that even while you’re trying to figure out the trigger for the hormonally-induced stuff, there still has got to be something out there to mitigate it, and help you to not be so miserable while you wait things out.

    • Yeah, we’ve had this conversation – and you’re right, I wouldn’t let you go more than 3 days without prodding you to do something. I don’t know why that never seems to translate to myself.

      I’m hoping the most recent something will help. Right now it’s making me a little woozy, though.

  5. Completely get the second priority thing. I have never been my first priority. Always second, third, or whatever … just ever so rarely first! It’s nice, but wrong.

    Good for you for choosing you in this instance 🙂

    • It’s easier to put others first, I think, because you don’t have to face the things you don’t like about yourself if your focus is outward. But as I’m told time and again, if you don’t take care of yourself, you’re not going to be much good to others.

  6. I tend to keep to myself and not share. I am finding, though, that sharing and being part of a mental healthy community makes me feel less isolated. Duh. Of course, it means I have to own up to being mentally ill. (God, I hate that term…probably more denial.) Anyway, I don’t ask for help as much as I ought. It’s comforting to know that others do, too, though I wish it weren’t true.

    • That owning up is so hard – because you’re owning up to yourself and sometimes to others too. I’m really glad to have found this blogging community because it really helps me feel like I’m not alone. That in itself is a big relief!

  7. I go through the same thing…and reading things like this is super helpful for me in accepting what I’m going through and asking myself! Thanks for posting this! 🙂

    P.S. I think the cartoon is awesome!

    • I’m so glad this is helpful for you – and thanks for the compliment on the cartoon! Fountain pen doesn’t work all that well on tracing paper…

  8. I marvel at how good it can feel to hear someone else is having the trouble I am – like hearing other parents talk about their imperfect children. So, thanks for this.

    I’m JUST now at the point where I’m asking for help, or at least talking about what’s going on in my brain, and it was a struggle to get here for sure. Anyway – good for you.

    • A little Schadenfreude, eh? 😉

      But yeah, it’s always validating to hear that others struggle with the same things we do. We’re not alone. We don’t talk openly about these things, of course, but they are still part of the common experience.

  9. My psychiatrist said he would want to be on my lifeboat, because I just keep rowing after everyone else has given up. I would like this to be a positive comment on my ability to function highly despite debilitating bipolar illness, but it is probably more of an indication that I need to accept when something is seriously wrong and take a break and ask for help. I’ve only asked for help once – I was so manic I couldn’t sit still and was jumping out of my skin. I had to call my partner at work, explain the problem, and ask her to take call that night, because I simply was not safe to take care of patients. Fortunately she has a niece who is bipolar, and she was very understanding and took the call for me.

    • I’m glad you got help when you reached out for it – I’ve been lucky in that regard, too. I’m always concerned about “wearing out” my small set of friends, and really not comfortable talking about this kind of thing with most of them. And then even more reluctant to call the doctor or therapist!

      But I’m trying to take everyone’s advice and admit when I need help. It’s not easy.

  10. I can tend not to seek help, if I fall into wallowing. Wallowing for me can begin as a mental health moment, and can quickly move into I WANT ATTENTION and all of the assorted attention seeking behaviors. Current therapists are EXCELLENT at feeding the Pour (poor) me monster! (this is/was for me, perhaps not for you)

    I had executive function issues that also impede my abiity to be motivated and to recognize moods or self. Having asthma and copd helped with this. For breathing, I have a peak flow meter, there are numbers that tell me where i am and the doc, tells me what to do for each segment. So, I found that to create an impartial rubric of where I am that does NOT get me to list and to rant or to resent or to wallow, gives me this objective measure and can be done as often during the day to track mood and helps to identify things that I might change or shift about me, in order to create better cognitive response.

    It has also been exceedingly important(for me and family) to create a DO list also. It provides consistency and works like taking meds on a normal basis. I find now, that when I get lazy and miss some, I am off kilter, I lose organization(executive function issue again along with lack of problem solving oie!) Anyway, the ‘down’ can often coincide when I blew off something that provided sensory input to get my system working properly, which will then trigger a mood issue. And, I no longer have to hyper focus on IT, and can just be human.

    I can also say, that I truly used…don’t think, don’t drink and go to a meeting, hope you don’t have that issue as well, but using the tools within it applies to all of my life and allows me to work on me a bit at a time, and allows me to know me, without shame(not always) but, I can work it out. Best wishes! not a doc, just shared what works for me!

    • That’s an interesting set of strategies, Elisa – I’m glad you’ve found some things that work for you.

      I’m not much of a wallower – more of a worrier, and my therapist is not the sort to nurture attention-seeking behavior. I use several objective measures (based on tested psychological scales) to track my mood daily, and have been in Dialectical Behavior Therapy for about 8 months, which has really helped me better observe and describe my emotional state.

      I’ve maintained a to-do list as long as I can remember. I probably take it to an extreme, but to be honest, it’s not unusual for my profession. There are over 80 to-do items for the next week in my productivity management software. It only goes so far in terms of helping me keep on track (I have ADD and executive dysfunction as well) but it definitely does help.

      It takes a lot of strategies to overcome some of these issues. Asking for help is a big one.

      • Okay, so I have not been on here in quite some time. But was reading/scanning down the comments and kept on chugging by. Something brought me back.

        What do you do for the ADD and executive dysfunction issues; medicinally or not. Is it more learned coping mechanisms? I fluctuate between dys and high in what might be termed executive function.

        What is your definition for executive function. Ah! Maybe I should google it. See what I find.

        I’m in the midst of remaking myself at age 47; diagnoses ad nauseum and a very broken marriage of 24 years due to a ton of stuff that included me running away back to my parents several times. It was and remains complicated. I want to succeed but am so tired of feeling like I’m swimming against the strong swift current of what seems like the Columbia River Gorge.

        • And as for the subject of this original post, ‘When do I Make the Call?’ I feel I should likely comment on. Oops! No shoulding on myself! I’m learning…. Okay then, I choose to put in my two cents worth.

          Actually, my nickels worth…. Canada no longer has a penny; its minted days as time goes, will be as a dodo bird. And as the penny cost 1.6 cents to manufacture, this comment is taking up more that its nickel’s worth as well.

          So, back to the topic at hand; I have been all over the place as you Dee Dee and many of the others commenting here. Getting educated in a group setting has been beneficial and made me realize I am not a freak or a mutation as I once thought. Being on the blogs has helped immensely. But there does come a time where emotions need to be set aside and not dwelt upon. And just do the right thing which is pulling our sorry little rears out and doing life when we do not want to. There’s a time for talking… and a time for doing. Exceptions to the extremes though, I am sure we shall all concur.

          My thinking and feelings have been borderline delusional to the point of psychotic and did not realize it. I went through a difficult period where I talked non-stop all day. I relied heavily on our local crisis lines up to three hours each one hour sessions a day for weeks on end, called every national prayer ministry line I could find, drove my friends nuts, and family as well. I took myself to the hospital and ditched and ran when the med cart came by in the a.m., received med scripts and got them filled only to not take them out of fear. But I made it through without the meds. And it was hellish.

          My caseworker I presumed took much time off of her job because of me. There is a name to that line of thinking too, however I forget the name of it. At any rate, things are settling down somewhat Medication would have smoothed things over I am sure, but then would again go through hell when I decided I no longer wanted to stay on them. So for now, I am involved in a 10-week Assertive Communication course, was finally referred to and got through a psycho-social skills group that could likely have saved my marriage. Next up is either a Mindfulness or Anxiety educational group.

          Personally, I am trying like a daughter-of-a-son-of-a-gun to get into CAMH in Toronto for some intensive stuff to get it all done in one shebang so I can get back to really living.

          So, my big thing is, IF YOU KNOW SOMETHING IS WRONG, GET HELP AND DON’T PUT IT OFF. Don’t waste your life and find yourself 3 years shy of 50 wondering who and what yanked the carpet out from under you. And yes, dang it, I still toy with ideas of medication. Am I nuts, perhaps, but something has to be said for being properly calm. We’ll see what happens at CAMH when I darken their doors. Soon hopefully.

          And, don’t put a price on a good therapist, we and our relationships are worth every cent or nickel we shell out. Ha…sigh! I think I’m done now!

        • I take stimulants for ADD symptoms, and use a bunch of coping techniques. There’s no one right solution, unfortunately, and I’m always trying something new here and there to see if it might work a little better. I use the standard definition of executive function, i.e., it’s the brain activities related to organizing, task management, etc.

          • Thanks for the link. It is a wonderful post of which I identify with for the most part. I do many of them, but still struggle with sorting out the wheat from the and chaff. Doctor will not give me ADD meds though for various reasons of which I shall not get into. But I am going to try some more of your techniques. Post printed and placed somewhere visible; otherwise, lost.

            Do the ADD drugs not interfere with the Bipolar issues? Reason I was not given stimulant drugs.

            • I have never had hypo/mania triggered by stimulants. They are actually very important for reducing my anxiety levels and helping combat executive dysfunction from both ADHD and bipolar. But it’s one of those things, it depends on the person, and there are several different medication options that can address ADD symptoms (including Wellbutrin). All have the potential to mix badly with bipolar, but that doesn’t mean that they actually will cause problems (and if one does, it doesn’t necessarily mean the others will…) Like everything else, it’s a big experiment.

              In my opinion, it’s rather close-minded, but also very cautious, to refuse stimulant treatment to someone with ADD just because they also have bipolar. There is no guarantee that it will or will not cause an episode, interact with other drugs, etc. It’s like everything else – you have to try it to find out.

    • You’re very welcome. It’s good to realize that we’re not alone, but I never think to look around and remember that others in the room are probably having similar problems.

  11. I just discovered your blog – thank you. I face the dilemma – especially in the recent year. It is hard to steer clear of triggers and once you feel yourself falling into what I call a deep dark pit, it is so difficult to stop the process. Asking for help is not easy for me, especially when I recently did and was ignored. Of course i was asking the wrong person, but the individual I was asking always said that I could.

    • Being invalidated and ignored when you ask for help is just horrible – I’ve been there. Worse yet is when you ask for help and get hurt instead. I’ve had enough medical professionals ignore my calls for help or trivialize my concerns that I’m now very wary of anyone in the psychiatric profession.

  12. Occasionally, I go through sad states too that can often last a few days. Ususally, it is multiple stressors hitting me at the same time and I feel helpless or seriously stressed. Sometimes it is lack of communication with people I care about and I imagine worst case scenarios. My best approach is to have a close friend and sometimes my Mom to talk to and vent out my feelings and frustrations to. That has been my best medicine. I’ve only sought therapy once and that did help during the time being. I had been depressed for over a month and it scared me. Other than that, I’d describe myself as being a happy person.

    • I certainly understand where you’re coming from. When I’m not depressed, I’m generally an optimistic and cheerful person.

      Unfortunately for me, my depression is swift, severe, and sometimes lasts for months. Although it occasionally lifts for awhile, it always comes back – with or without a stressor or triggering event. That’s the nature of bipolar disorder.

  13. I’m often told that I don’t ask for help soon enough either, but I don’t like to burden other people with my problems. I brush stuff under the carpet all too often, but time and time again it comes back to bite me in the arse and I end up more worked up over it than if I had just dealt with it in the first place. Despite knowing this, I still do it.

    • I always worry about burdening others too – but that’s evidence that I’m basically being inconsiderate of my own needs, which really ought to come first. I have been really slow to learn from these mistakes (ow, the arse-biting!) but I’m really trying to take people at their word when they say they’re there to help.

      It’s definitely hard, but most of the time, the old cliches are true – ask and ye shall receive, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, etc. Maybe it’s something you can work yourself up to somehow?

  14. Wow. I have my freak outs. As of late it has been to frequent an occurrence I am afraid. And I am so blessed to have 2 fantastic men that help me deal with it, and help me get back to reality.
    Best wishes, good for you taking the day off and calling your therapist.
    ~Be Well~

    • When you start being afraid of your own emotions, it’s definitely time for help! But I feel so hypocritical to say as much, given my track record.

      Thanks for the encouragement. I think the ability to remain grateful for the supportive people in our lives is something to be grateful for in and of itself.

  15. I have a problem telling people what going on because I’m scared the not only will they not want to help me but I will be treated differently when they know how messed up I really am.

    • It’s hard when you don’t know what to expect. Maybe you could ask for help with something really small, sort of test the reaction?

      So far I’ve found that if they are people with whom I have a good relationship to start, they are very supportive. The ones who have kicked me back into the gutter are psychiatrists, sad to say. Fortunately I now have some good people on my side.

  16. Wow, you wrote straight from my brain, I too have never, can never and probably will never ask for help. I am conditioned to ‘pull myself together’ ‘give myself a kick’, and ‘get over it!’ Sometimes I can’t. I, like you, know I should but why is it sooo hard. Thank you!

    • I’m pretty conditioned to be self-contained as well, but I’ve learned that there are things I just shouldn’t try to handle alone. It’s not easy, but I’ve been told many times since my bipolar diagnosis is that knowing when to ask for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. We all need help sometimes – it’s just that no one likes to admit it.

  17. Hi! Thank you for writing so honestly. I just wanted to say that I went through something similar a few years ago. My therapist said something very important. You have to work on the “normal” state of mind, like you’re doing. A few things that helped me immensely in my journey are meditation and prayers. I cannot begin to tell you how these 2 things helped me. Currently, going to yoga once a day helps me to keep my mind still. I find great hope when I read posts like yours. For far too long, mental health needs have had to be hidden and people like us have been stigmatized. All I can say is, I am able to function through those hormonal phases now, and I can see a candle in the darkness. Lots of love.

    • Thanks for the warm wishes – honest is the only way I know how to be! I’m not the praying sort, but I find great solace in being outdoors, especially in the wilderness. Unfortunately the weather’s a bit lousy for a hike into the mountains just now.

      I am actually looking into yoga classes right now, partly because my husband needs it too, and it would be great to do together. I definitely find meditation helpful, but haven’t yet found a good way to incorporate it into my everyday routines. I’d also like to learn more meditation methods than just zazen (sitting). But one thing at a time…

  18. Plenty of people don’t ask for help when they need it, thinking things will get better, and they often regret it. As for the hormonally-induced problems, your doctor can probably prescribe something to help you with that. Give him a call, and do it right now, because most likely, your friends and your family and your doctor would want to help you even if it was only for a few days.
    And here’s a tip or two that might make you feel better: I’ve got my own vices, including overeating and sweets, that I’m dealing with. One of the ways I help myself is with a mantra, such as “I don’t need this” or “Today’s going to be a good day”. It’s a simple thought, but with a little conviction behind it, I feel so much better or so much less likely to have some sweets. Hypnosis for moods and meditation also help me get through the day, with some very good results.

    • Thanks, Rami – I did go in to the doctor. However, the hormonal issues are much more complicated than that – as I mentioned, I haven’t been able to get in to the specialist yet.

      Affirmations can be helpful for some things, but they only go so far. Meditation is a great tool, though, and I’m trying to build time for it into my days.

  19. Reblogged this on My Stage, My Street, My Life and commented:
    Sometimes bringing up the courage to talk to others is hard and in my own personal situation damn near impossible. You can let it build and build and build but you ‘don’t need to talk about it’ yet. And then something happens and trust me it can be something as trivial as missing a bus for it all to fall down. That façade of calm, cool contentedness drops in an instant and your left a shriveling wreck. I found my relief from an unexpected source, a lecturer I had spoken to two maybe three times and briefly at that. I asked if there was somewhere I could find someone to talk to and he politely replied that he was sat right there and that he had all the time in the world to talk. Trust me talking to someone about the way you are feeling is the best possible medicine. Don’t let it build up, let it out. – JL

    • Thanks for the re-blog and sharing your experiences. I totally know what you mean about the littlest thing suddenly making it all crumble apart. That’s usually how it goes for me too.

      I’m glad you had a lecturer with enough compassion to be there for you. Talking to someone is one of the best ways to gain instant relief. It’s not always enough to really deal with the issue, but it’s definitely a good place to start.

  20. I recognise this so clearly as I can never ask for help either – because it isn’t that bad, or something else is ore important than my well-being or whatever. I also found email an easier way to go, on the couple of occasions I did try to ask. I’m so pleased for you that you did take the time off and follow your plan though – I hope it makes it easier if you need to do it again in the future. Thank you.

    • Thanks – I think every time I ask for help, difficult as it is, it gets a little easier the next time. But I’m always deciding that it isn’t that bad, or it’s too inconvenient, or a burden to someone else. Now I’m starting to make rules about when to reach out, and that is definitely helping me do what I know I need to do.

      • that’s so brilliant of you – and it’s good to hear it’s helping too! Will try and follow your example 🙂

        • Well, I’m much better at following rules than making decisions, especially if I’m “not all there” so to speak, so setting rules for myself does really help me avoid some known potential pitfalls.

  21. I really felt what was going on and i am inspired by this, only a true writer can make me feel like this ! I understand how you feel i have to watch my mother go through this sometimes just suffering alone and refusing to “Make the call”. Thanks you for writing this!

    • Thanks! If it’s something you’re comfortable with, maybe you can suggest to your mom that she call someone? There are lots of ways you can be supportive, but make sure your needs are taken care of too. We all need help sometimes.

  22. People are social animals, so call immediatly when you wonder if you should call. Every problems, issue, thought, whatever, is an opportunity for social connection and that is something we all need. The call should be made long before its needed because just talking about the bland and boring, includes social contact. If you wonder if its time to call, it is!

    • You’re probably right on that – sometimes it’s still pretty hard to do. But maintaining relationships through regular contact – even the bland and boring stuff – would probably make it easier to give someone a call when in need.

  23. Dearest DeeDee, I can’t begin to tell you how squarely you have hit the conundrum on the head. For us in-charge, soldier-on types, asking for help is often more difficult than suffering alone. Thank you for sharing this. It will help me remember next time I need help, that I should pick up the phone rather than just spiral further into despair.

    • I think for me it’s often pride and fear of others’ reactions. Pride because I don’t want to admit that I can’t handle everything by myself, when that’s exactly what I’ve been conditioned to do all my life. I’m afraid that asking for help will lead to rejection or humiliation or hurt of some other sort.

      That makes it pretty hard to ask for help, but apparently when I’m adequately distressed I will actually find a shoulder to cry on. Of course, it has to get really bad before that happens. I gotta work on that.

  24. dear deedee, with time and practice i’ve learnt to show my vulnerable side though just to a very few people…but i agree it is very difficult…to accept that i need help doesnt fit well in my head and this is the mother of all problems…a very true post.
    i wish you well!!!

    • Thanks – I have found vulnerability very difficult in general. I’m slow to trust others with anything sensitive, but there are a few people and I’m trying to be more open with others. It takes time and willingness to be hurt, but both of those are in short supply.

  25. What about giving yourself a time limit? Yes, they do pass, but there’s a point when it’s going to get worse before it gets better. And you may not want to see the worst of it. So, once you notice that first indication that things are not looking good, give it an hour? Then call the therapist. Also, what about approaching your other supports ahead of time, so that you know who to expect to help you and who would really rather not before you are in crisis?

    • I’ve actually set a time limit recently, but it’s in days, not hours. Otherwise I’d be calling every other day, and no one would take me seriously (including me!)

      Making up a safety plan involved assembling a list of who to call in emergency, but at the moment, I only have two people to call before the therapist. I’m a little nervous about asking the one or two other people I’d be comfortable with calling “in a state” but I’ll get there – one thing at a time.

  26. This reminds me of the times that I needed help and didn’t think it was worth asking, ranging from years ago until just a few months ago. It has always been easier to see when others needed help and distract myself with their needs. I would rather do that than address my own until it was so far out of contol and I was no longer able to pretend that I was OK. Lather, rinse, repeat. I am glad to hear you made the decision that you did.

    • I agree, it’s easier to see others’ needs than our own – I don’t think I intentionally distract myself by attending to others, but it’s a possibility. Waiting until you can’t pretend it’s OK is my typical pattern too, but I’m trying to break it.

  27. I know the situation myself. Even when I´m really doing bad and my friends notice, I only give them a snapshot with some minor thing why I´m doing bad. At least I learned in between to show it, which was pretty weird in the beginning as well. You did that step as well and can be very proud of that!
    It´s so disgusting that this shit is sometimes just form hormones and yes, normally it passes by from alone but on the other site I think it´s good to get help during that phase because you learn how to deal with it the next time by the help of your therapist or whoever. You are on the right way, thinking about it AND emailed your therapist in the end. I´m sure it will be become easier step by step, like you remember in the beginning of letting someone know at all that you aren´t doing good. Be proud of that!

    • Thanks, I’m trying to see it as a good forward step. Asking for help is really awkward and uncomfortable at first, but it does get easier.

      I also tend to say that I have a cold or the flu or something like that when I’m bad enough off that I have to stay home. Apparently I wear my heart on my sleeve, so I don’t make excuses very well in person. If someone asked, I’d probably say it’s just stress, too much going on, stuff like that.

  28. Oh! I feel so bad for you! No matter how I feel when I go to bed (always good) … I wake up depressed. I mostly lie in bed feeling guilty of not getting up. I know If I had somewhere to go or something really important, I would be ok. I hope you get the help you need! I’ll send a lot of love your way sweetie!

    • Crystal, I think you should get a dog (I think everyone should get a dog). A dog will not allow one to lie abed; he requires attention, every day–and gives back unconditional love. Before I met DeeDee, my dog was sometimes the only reason I even bothered to eat–he needed me, and that was reason enough to take care of myself.

    • Actually, Mr. Chickadee makes a really good point – having an animal companion can be a very good way to ensure that you get up and start your day. Taking care of another creature is sometimes therapeutic in itself.

      I would agree that dogs are the best at unconditional love – some cats are lovey but many are not. But then again, I’m a “dog person.” Therapy dogs are increasingly viewed as a service dog and allowed in places they otherwise would be banned, though I think they have to get some kind of training for that.

  29. I find I feel so much better after talking about the issue or asking for help. I just wrote a similar blog on accountability to ourselves and our community. It’s more on transformative justice, but totally relates.

    Thanks for this piece 🙂

    • Just talking it out does bring immediate relief, pretty much every time. Feeling like there’s someone you can talk to about whatever the particular stressor is, that’s another thing entirely.

      Sometimes I think there’s also a tendency to talk about it and then let it go at that, when we really do need to take some kind of action. But hopefully whomever offers a shoulder to lean on is wise enough to prompt action.

  30. I hate asking for help, or acknowledging something is wrong and I definitely don’t ask for help when probably I should. I’m sorry that you are going through this right now, and I can relate to being too proud to ask for help when you need it. I only let people see part way if I am having major issues in my life, and prefer to take on the burden of handling it on my own.

    • Every time I feel like I have to ask for help for mental health issues, that’s when the pride gets in the way. I haven’t really gotten to the level of acceptance where I feel like it’s really alright to admit that I need help. But I’m trying because handling it alone is really not working!

    • I have, and it can be really effective. I haven’t gotten into the habit of making it a daily practice, though – setting aside the time and space somehow never seems like enough of a priority. It would probably be good for reducing distress in a crisis situation, but it shouldn’t be a replacement for asking for help.

      • No in a crisis, it would be almost impossible. But for helping notice the thoughts associated with distress can give a lot of peace and piece of mind. I find it has become nearly impossible to stay stuck in negative thought processes.

        As for setting aside time-the more you are connected to the benefits of doing it, the more it becomes a labor of love. With self love being the most difficult characteristic to possess with depression, this labor can be a labor in itself. But contrary to what people say, life really is long. I think it’s designed that way to make practice to make better and practicing at practicing.
        I feel 100% confident in saying that if all psychologists worked to establish a regular meditation practice as a therapuetic practice and part of treatment- recovery would become much more possible for everyone.

        We are all spiritual beings-to sit and acknowledge this means we are just being ourselves with ourselves when we meditate.

        It is my theory that people who struggle with depression are actually more “aware” or “more spiritual” than those who have never suffered suicidal thoughts.

  31. I can relate to you. Many times I refuse to ask for help for all big and small things, partly because of my pride and partly because I felt that I shouldn’t pull others down into my own problems. I felt that I should solve them myself. It often angered my parents and friends.

    Well, I’m glad you got help in the end. It’ll be easier to cope. And a well-written post, I must say. (:

    • Thank you! I always worry that I’ll drag others down or be a burden on them, but I need to trust that if they offer help, then they mean it and I should take them up on it. It is easier to cope when you’re not trying to do it all alone, that’s for sure!

  32. I think it’s common among people with mental health problems to not seek help as often as they should. In the cases of the people I am close to, they either don’t think it’s important enough to bother someone with or they don’t think the help they get would be effective. It’s hard realize that you can’t do everything by yourself. Great post, by the way.

    • There’s a lot of reasons to avoid asking for help with mental health problems – low self-esteem, fear of rejection, stigma, even depression itself – not to mention acceptance.

      I have to admit, I often fall into both of the thought patterns you mention. Especially the “it wouldn’t make a difference anyway” thinking. This time, calling a friend definitely helped. The rest is a bit more questionable, but try, try again, I guess.

    • That’s what they tell me in therapy. And I do tend to believe it – when I don’t ask for help, it’s usually because I’m afraid for some reason.

  33. I’ve had the number for Breathing Space in my phone for nearly four months now… I’ve only phoned once, even though I’ve been in a horrible place several times a week.
    I also struggle with asking for help, but on top of that, it’s the getting it I can’t do.
    I’ll ask if I can have coffee with someone, tell them I’m not coping… and it gets to them asking what’s wrong, and I can’t vocalise it. Which is scary!
    I also had my last counselling session today, so I’m on my own so I need to learn to ask for help and follow this up.
    Great post 🙂

    • It can be so hard to actually say what it is that’s causing the pain. In this case, extremely difficult. Maybe it just takes practice.

      If you can’t get counseling anymore, perhaps there’s a support group you could attend? I found it really helpful to go to NAMI support meetings as a student, because everyone else had similar problems and could sympathize. It made it much easier to be frank because the other people in the room both understood and shared as well.

  34. I identify a lot with what you say at the beginning of the post especially. I’ve been going through the same moods and swings throughout my life, but only recently have I been able to recognize patterns and such. I’m *still* a novice, and still learning, a couple of years later. I think blogging helps me articulate and discover the patterns, but it still comes in small doses. I wish you luck with the process.

    • I know what you mean – it really can take a lot of very deliberate effort to understand what’s going on with complex emotional issues. I’ve learned to keep a lot of notes and records, because even if I can’t figure it out at the time, sometimes it all clicks later and having that information helps verify whatever it is.

      Blogging definitely helps me work it out – it’s a lovely thing about writing. Actually, the worse I feel, the more I write, because the more it helps.

  35. Reblogged this on Jewel Ammons and commented:
    Asking for help is the hardest part of Mental Illness. We all think, “Oh, it isn’t that bad,” or “I don’t want to burden anyone else” or “I don’t have time.” However, asking for help is the # 1 most important thing you can do. Don’t wait until you’ve cried for three days!

    • Thanks, dear – in this case, there was a pretty clear “this is really bad” kind of thing. I just had to own up to it and do something about it. And that kind of really bad is scary and hard to talk about with others.

      I guess it’s a form of denial, thinking that it’ll just go away. Except that sometimes it does! Ah, the beauty of bipolar disorder… Or not.

  36. Emotions and hormones can be like amusement park rides – seem to go on too long when you’re not enjoying the ride and ends too quickly when it’s fun.

  37. I know how hard it is to accept that we need help… my problem is that I finally realized I do need it and I am sick of putting other people ahead of me, but still I cant ask fo the help Im in need of :/
    It sucks.

    • It can be hard to figure out how to ask – I know of people who have written down the difficult things that they can’t bring themselves to say, and hand it over to their therapist or whomever they reach out to. Sometimes it just takes time to work out how to say it, and sometimes you just have to spit it out and get it over with. It really does help to talk with someone.

  38. Wow, what an amazing blog. I thought I was the only one who struggles to ask for help. I battle similar mental health problems but can never bring myself to ask for help in the middle of a crises. For me normally those times are when I am by myself and not feeling so distracted by another person in the room. I have been crying lots, and I am still struggling to ask for the necessary “intervention”. Unfortunately by the time my therapist is available or anyone else in that manner, the crises has already ceased. I totally get it. Thank you for blogging your thoughts.

    • I can definitely sympathize – you’re not alone! It does help to be around others when I’m low – it keeps me from focusing on feeling bad. If you can’t get in to see your therapist or doctor when you’re in need, maybe you could call a crisis line? If nothing else, it gives you someone to talk to, and that will almost always help you feel better.

  39. This is so well written. I can definitely resonate. Good luck with you recovery! I appreciate your courage.

      • It’s so courageous! Mental illness isn’t talked about much therefore people feel alone and feel ashamed to talk about it (I used to but now no fucks are given)

        • Whenever I start talking about it non-anonymously, I think that will feel courageous to me. But in the meantime, I hope talking about it at all helps stab stigma in the back.

  40. Pingback: The Emergency Appointment « Disorderly Chickadee

  41. I have a problem asking for help two. My problem is I don’t cry. I can’t cry. I have stuffed my feelings so far inside of me that nothing comes out. I teach, so I have to hold it together and put on a happy face for everyone else. I can’t deal with me. I certainly can’t show negative emotion because it’s not fair to my students. My parents died a couple of years ago within three months of each other. I’m an only child. I haven’t been the same since. So I just go on. I just don’t know where I’m going. Thanks for writing what many of us benefit from reading.

    • It sounds like you’ve been in a very difficult place. Have you considered seeing a therapist? I really resisted it at first, but it’s been very helpful, especially when I’m not feeling well.

      It’s not fair to you to put on a happy face all the time. It’s bad enough when others invalidate us, but when we invalidate ourselves, it’s even harder to move past painful experiences. I hope you find some comfort soon.

      • Thanks. 🙂 Today has been a very bad day. It’s nice to see an encouraging note though. I really appreciate it.

  42. I understand the feeling. I live with chronic complex ptsd. Which means, basically, that I’m in some point in the ptsd cycle every minute of every day. I can be fine one moment, and the next, terrified out of mind. Sometimes you can feel the coming of an episode, sometimes not. Hard to know when to call.

    • Yeah, it’s really hard when moods change so fast. If I had waited until I could see my usual nurse, it would have been past and I would have felt really stupid for calling in the first place. But now I can’t back out of talking about it with my therapist and nurse on Monday – probably for the best.

  43. “Call me if you need anything” was the thing I most hated to hear when I was going through a particularly dark time. If people know that you are going through something, and if they really mean it when they say they’re your friend, the right thing to say is “I’ll call you.” and actually do it. In my opinion, telling me to call when you know I’m barely holding on is really to helping.

    • I think it depends – I don’t want anyone to call me when I’m feeling low. Often people don’t understand how hard of a time you’re going through – at least, they don’t for me because I do my best to keep it to myself. Not the best habit, I’m afraid.

  44. Thankyou for your honesty in sharing this ♥ I am new to your blog, but can relate to this post so well! Reaching out for help is one of the most difficult things to do ~ like you, I will always rationalize in my head that ‘this will pass’, ‘maybe I’m over-reacting’, ‘I feel bad for imposing on people with my troubles’, etc, etc….But yes, then a crisis can very quickly turn into a serious emergency…Just after Christmas, i ended up in hospital after taking an overdose of prescription meds ~ I tried to reach out for help, but left it too long, really 😦 And it is now taking me a long time to crawl my way back up once again, aswell as deal with the guilt I feel over what my attempt put my loved ones through…It is a hard question to answer, but I have learnt ~ make that call the moment you start feeling like you need to talk to someone…Even if your emotions end up calming down and everything is ok, it’s much better to have had that reassurance that help is there, anytime you need it ♥

    • I’m glad you and I are both learning our learning our lessons about reaching out for help. It’s hard, but so much better than suffering alone.

  45. A great post letting people catch a glimpse of the internal battle one faces when asking for help. Thanks for having the courage to write it.

  46. I sat at my desk at work one day, when my supervisor and the boss came to me and asked “Which one of us do you want to drive you to the hospital?” Since they had decided I needed to go, the who-does-the-driving was just moot.
    I have a hard time asking for help too. Even when I know I need to. Even when family tell me I need to. Most times I make the call in time. There have been other times it took a hospital visit to intervene and get me back on my meds.
    I hope the new meds, the therapist all help to get you back.

    • You are really lucky to have such caring coworkers and family! It’s still a hard call to make, even if everyone around you is being supportive and helping you stay aware of your needs.

  47. I understand EXACTLY how you feel.

    But it gets better!

    I never asked for help, because I never knew when to. No one even really noticed something was wrong. They attributed me staying in bed all day to “laziness” not depression.
    It got so bad and I felt so isolated that I began to wonder if I needed help. This took a long time though as I never realised I was depressed…

    I actually heavily considered commiting suicide. I thought it was the only way out (but I wasn’t selfish enough, I worried too much about my boyfriend and sister). Anyway, I told them I felt this way and they cried. I felt so horrible because they told me they would have been there. I just subconsciously shut them out and withdrew.

    I refused to go to the doctors because meds only deal with the problems not the symptoms (I’ve seen people run out and it wasn’t pretty). And 2 years later Im happy!
    Truly happy!

    I’m still in therapy with a wonderful therapist, my boyfriend is incredibly supportive and my life has completely changed! I used to feel either despair or nothing, now it’s happiness.

    I mean its such hard work, but I know you’ll get there.

    Good luck! It’ll be alright in the end xx

    • Thanks for sharing your story – I’m glad you’re able to do well without medication. Being suicidal is very, very scary. I made a couple attempts a long time ago, but wouldn’t dream of doing it now. I love my husband too much to hurt him like that.

      In general, medications treat symptoms rather than the root problems, because there’s no known way to “fix” something like bipolar disorder, which is a chronic condition. But combining therapy with medications is usually most effective for serious mental illness.

  48. Love your blog. This topic is so necessary. I am a seriously thankful survivor of PTSD following the close deaths of both parents and remember my time of reaching out after reading this blog. I am glad that I made the call. Take good care.

    • Thank you! I thought it was an important topic to share. It’s something I’ve struggled with all my life, and I’m trying to learn new, healthier ways to handle distressing situations. It just takes time.

    • It does help to nip it in the bud.

      I’m always questioning whether the trigger or prodromal symptoms are going to be a one-day blip in my emotional state, or something that drags me down for weeks. I’ve always avoided calling in crisis because I think “it’ll be better tomorrow” and then I’d be embarrassed to have asked for help.

  49. I do feel for you. I have been diagnosed with PTSD and everything that goes with it. The biggest problem I have is that other than my VA therapist nobody sees it as an illness. I get this “snap out of it” attitude from my family as if I choose to be this way. The odd thing is they are all highly intelligent and well educated yet totally ignorant of the facts , symptoms and causes of mental health or disorders. Hang tough!

    • Stigma and ignorance about mental illness are such a massive frustration. I haven’t even told my family, but I think they would more or less get it, since there’s a lot of mental illness in my dad’s family. We have a lot of work to do to educate those around us, don’t we?

  50. It’s just my opinion but I think just have someone besides us when we feel not OK always help us emotionally. No word require. To know that their is someone who understand and be there to support us if we need anything is good enough. So I think it’s always good to tell someone whom do care when we feel that it’s not OK even though they can not talk us out of depression but just show us that they really care can give us a great hope. I had no one by my side and felt alone all those years. I managed to survive anyway because I told myself not to give up, I thought I would meet someone whom really do care for me eventually and my condition will be cured permanently.

    • You are so right, Aaron – having companionship and a shoulder to lean on can make such a difference. I’m glad you found a way to make it through, and I hope you’ve found that someone who can be there when you need understanding and support.

  51. Thank you for mentioning hormonal triggers. It seems like it’s OK to talk about mental health problems these days, and OK to talk about PMT (or SAD or anything else mood/hormonal), but putting the two together, even in the quiet of my brain, seems taboo! Thank you for making me see how to put the issues together in one thought so that I can correct another twisted thought pattern!

    • Oh, they definitely interact. And any time a medication interacts with birth control, it also interacts with your normal hormones – something they never mention.

      I think mental illness is a lot more complicated for women just because the monthly cycles screw with our entire chemical soup. I’m really hoping to get some resolution on those issues soon, but it’s been hard to get an appointment with the specialist I need to see.

  52. Maybe sometimes too it is not about getting help, but just having someone there to listen. I have found sometimes in my most confused hours I just want a release to have a safe space to talk about it. Then once it is off my chest my mood lifts.

    • You’re absolutely right, talking about the things that are upsetting and distressing with someone you trust is almost always a huge, immediate release (which is why I called my friend!) It’s also why talk therapy is so strongly recommended for most mental illnesses.

  53. Cool cartoon! I studied art at university and I couldn’t do that! It’s very expressive. Glad to have read your update that you made a couple of appointments. Feel better x

    • I was always thinking of Sara Lomas’s awesome drawings while I was drawing it, but I’ve never really tried to do a cartoon before.

      Well, except I draw cartoons as part of my research. They’re “process diagrams” where you show all the steps people go through to do something or other, and I like to do them with stick-figure cartoons. It’s fun and it gets the job done. 🙂

  54. I feel for you. I have had days,weeks and years similar to this so I think I have a pretty clear idea of what it is are trying to figure out. This comment you made in your post stood out among everything else you said: So my thinking is, why call and waste everyone’s time…
    In my opinion and my life experience is that, if you reach out to those who love you or the professionals who’s care you’re under, it is never a waste of anyone’s time. I do understand the hesitation that’s involved with getting the professionals involved; it’s a downright scary option considering they may misunderstand where “your head is at” and their mistake in judgement in “getting it wrong” could potentially send you to a hospital. For me, this thought alone has on occasion, kept me suffering in silence which is so awfully painful. Just know that the people in your life that truly love you will be there to listen and never think of it as “a waste of their time.”
    Sending all my best wishes to you now and in the future! I’m glad to hear that you sought out help and received treatment, always better safe than sorry…

    • Thanks – I’m trying really hard to accept that I need to be more responsive when I’m in a bad state.

      And although I made the right move this time, I think I got the wrong treatment again. But at least there’s something to learn from that too, I guess.

  55. I don’t know your story, but I wanted you to know I saw the cartoon in your post on Freshly Pressed and it really touched me. There is universality in experiencing that emotional state. I appreciate your truth-telling.

    • Thanks so much for the compliment! Maybe I should try to draw cartoons more often. 🙂

      I guess I never realized how many other people feel hesitant to ask for help. I can only speak from my own experience, but I call it like I see it. Sure, I’m hiding behind a pen name, but that’s part of what lets me feel free to actually speak my mind.

  56. You should call a friend or your relatives or take your therapist advice. That would make you feel better. There is always Hope. Have faith and Cheer up!

  57. I fear the irrational.
    If I ask for help what if i don’t actually need it? what if i waste somebody’s time? Somebody I care for? How awful!
    That’s what I tell myself. But it’s not true. My friends are there to help and they love me but I’m still irrational…for now 😉

    Tallulah

    • I think it’s a rational train of thought – if you undervalue yourself (which I usually do when I’m depressed). Their time is no more valuable than yours, right?

      If we felt better about ourselves, we’d probably be much more likely to reach out for help when we need it.

  58. hi Dee Dee, I hope you’re feeling better by now. as an artist, I know how depression feels. But I don’t like shrinks. When I was in high school they were after me. And all I needed was attention. Even if you think you’re ok they will find something wrong with you. Like taking a car to a mechanic. And psyche drugs can make you feel worse. I never took a mind control drug in my life, because of the side effects. Now that I’m older, I’m ok. A few years ago I tried to help an ex boyfriend who had MS. I’m not a nurse, but trying to help him made me feel better than I felt in years. he said I was freakin bubbly. !! Next time you feel bad, please look around for someone who’s worse off than you. It gives you a different perspective. If you volunteer, your life becomes so much better. Ditch the shrink and make changes , one at a time, small changes add up to something better over the course of a year. hang in there. I’m not lying, it gets better.

    • Hi Chris, thanks, I’m doing a bit better.

      I don’t like shrinks either, but I’ve come to accept that sometimes medication is the best answer for me. With a condition like bipolar disorder, it’s asking for trouble to go without treatment. Sometimes the drugs do make me feel worse, but some of them have made me feel a lot better, and with hardly any side effects. I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to stop psychiatric treatment right now. If nothing else, stopping psych meds should be done under medical supervision.

      Comparisons to the less fortunate and contributing to others are both DBT distress tolerance strategies, which is what we’re working on right now in my DBT skills group.

  59. I can relate to a lot in your post. Sometimes it is enough to know that I am not the only one struggling with these things and that mental illness is actually pretty “normal”! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • They say that statistically about 25% of US adults will have a mental health problem in any given year. There are a lot of things that can cause mental health issues, and a lot of us struggle much more than anyone should have to – but knowing that you’re not alone can help. And you’re not alone. 🙂

  60. I’m not a huge fan of most pharmaceuticals either, but coming from the mental health field I believe (and have seen) that for some they are a necessity. It sounds like you found yourself a great therapist and are learning to look for the signs and ask for help when you need it. Great post.

    • Thanks – I have found that they can be very helpful. It’s not the entire answer, and I do have a good therapist. It’s just quite a challenge to remain vigilant and develop a level of self-awareness that “normal” folks aren’t expected to have!

  61. I do not suffer from depression, but I hope that does not invalidate my response because I certainly do face other challenges and difficulties as we all do, all of which often involve asking for help.
    In order to assist you in ‘seeing’ the need to ask for help, let me present it in another way. Sometimes if we see our problem as something else, we can see the solution more clearly.
    Let’s pretend for a minute that your mental health is in fact money. When you are depressed, you are broke. You are aware there are people around who are very willing to lend you a few dollars to get you through until your cheque arrives. So you wake up one day and you have no milk, you have no coffee, you have some bread but no butter. While your cupboards are not empty, you have run out of all those those items that are required to mix or add resulting in the fact you can make nothing. Now… you have the option to call someone and ask but you hate doing this..after all your cheque maybe in tomorrow. You are willing to go a day without coffee, or butter etc. you will make do. You cheque the mail the next day and it’s not there. Well, if it is not in today — surely it must be in tomorrow.
    Let me suggest something to you. Instead of even going a day, if those around you know your circumstances, have accepted that you require help sometimes and have offered it — let me suggest that you ask for help ‘before you suffer’. You wake up and the first morning you find yourself ‘broke’ you ask for help. Even if your cheque comes in, in the mean time — what difference does it make. The point here is you have not suffered, or turning it around – you have taken responsiblity and ensured you have the means you need to get by.

    Just a suggestion….Hope it helps and good luck

    • Thanks for the thoughtful suggestion – it’s an interesting analogy! The rationale makes plenty of sense, though at least for myself, when I need help most is when I’m least objective and rational about it. A related problem is that sometimes I don’t recognize how badly things are going until well past broke. But it requires a lot of practice – I’m trying to learn to identify that kind of situation and how to react appropriately. It just takes time.

  62. Reading this made me think about my own pride and failings of calling for help when I need it. I bottle things up good and proper. I’ve created this shell that nothing or no-one can get inside until,as I see it, it starts over-flowing and pours out. Then I’m on the other side of the spectrum where I feel like I’m dwelling on too much about myself and forgetting others.

    Where’s the healthy balance?

    I am glad you’re able to write about your life, in this way, and able to make those realisations when help is absolutely required. But let’s make a deal…the next time you feel like you need to talk or help, don’t question it and just do it…and I’ll do the same.

    • Sounds like a deal. It can take some time to learn when to ask for help – it’s often a lot sooner than we might think.

  63. We all have needed help at some point in our life. There is no shame in that. We weren’t made to get through things on our own. We were made for community. We were made for connection. Giving help to someon or ledning a listening ear isn’t a burden. In fact, when people share what’s going on in their life, it makes me take a harder look at my own. Don’t do this on your own. Reach out.

    • This is exactly the kind of thing that seems very logical and sensible when you’re in your “right mind” and is totally unrelatable when in the pits of despair.

      If I were on the irritable side of depressed, I would roll my eyes because I’ve heard the line a million times and it sounds like a pack of lies to me. I know it’s not, and that it’s in fact all accurate. That doesn’t mean it’s acceptable or helpful advice for someone who sincerely believes themselves to be a burden on others.

      A lot of people don’t understand how much depression can alter your understanding of reality. Good encouraging advice is just painful at times, and people need to know that. When faced with someone who feels so bad they can’t believe any of this, it helps to make sure not to criticize their inability to relate to this kind of advice.

      • I know. I’ve been there before. Went through a hard depression for nearly three years. Problem is I didn’t tell anyone, because I was embarrassed and also felt like I would be a burden. Recognizing I couldn’t do this anymore, I began to make notes for myself and leave them around the house or in my car. I did this when I was in the right mind so that when things were just too dim I would have something to remind me to keep pushing through. Eventually I told someone, and we sought help together. Telling that first person, for me, made it not as difficult to seek help when I needed it. That person was my go to, and promised to be until I was better. Knowing that person signed up for this with me through the end helped make me feel like I wasnt a burden to them. Not everyone’s depression is the same and not everyone responds the same. I wish someone had pleaded to me to reach out and talk to someone earlier. Not intending to criticize you or anyone else. Just pleading as I wished someone would have done for me.

        • Ah, that makes sense – I’m glad you’ve found a way to move past depression. It can be so isolating.

          I tend to think things like, I already have an appointment with the doc in a few days, what difference can it make to ask for an emergency appointment today? Things like that. I can usually talk to friends to some extent, but deciding when to call in the pros is where I really have a hard time knowing what the limits should be.

      • I am one of those people in ‘one of those bottom of the pit states’ right now – i keep getting advice – the stuff i already know and i am not able to process it. i know those who are giving the words of encouragement only mean well, but my mind will not accept it and i am trying so hard to get it to. and i feel horrible because i know what i need to do, but i am paralyzed. what makes it worse is those around you who tell you this stuff, just think you are being self deprecating and feeling sorry for yourself, and that you just have to think positive – think from a place of love – what in the hell does that mean?

        • I can completely relate to that. It makes everything seem like total BS. Even if you know intellectually that it’s good advice, that doesn’t mean you can accept it emotionally, and that’s especially true when you’re in a compromised emotional state. I think others don’t understand how invalidating it is to you when they trivialize the depth of your pain that way. It’s not that easy to change the way you think and feel about things – we’re talking months and/or years of therapy, not just deciding to have “happy thoughts” or whatever. That’s where the “just snap out of it” people need a real wake-up call.

          • Thank you for your words. This is why I started blogging again after almost a year absence. I can at least write how I feel, get it off my chest or scoop it out of my mind. What I never expected was to read from others who relate, can understand. Don’t get me wrong, I do not think I am the only one in the world dealing with crap – but to find others who understand – this has been a comfort to me. Merci.

  64. Do you always think you are a burden to others? I mean im the type of girl whom dont like to ask people for help. But that doesn`t mean im shy or anything it is just the way it is.

    I think that it depends on how you think of it. You know like “do i bother other people”, or ” Is it worth it to ask others for help?, maybe I can solve my problems???? 🙂 But great blog by the way!!

    • No, I don’t generally think I’m a burden – but I also don’t want to be one. I’m usually more likely to think that whatever it is that’s bothering me is not that big of a deal or will go away on its own. And sometimes that’s true, which makes it even harder to figure out when it’s not going to be true!

  65. Hun I’m glad you shared. I cried every day this week and I thought it was just hormones, me being so sensitive &overly emotional…we are way too hard on ourselves. I have so much to be happy&thankful for, but it’s ok to cry if we are having a rough day, and if its a rough week, ask for help, prayer, blog, go to a support group(a therapist, friend, counselor, mentor, teacher, pastor). I thought I was free from depression but I still have mini panic attacks every once in a while. I was doing well but today I tore my nails again, and I still chew my cheek:( but I shouldn’t beat myself up; it’s all part of e learning process! “This too shall pass”

  66. I can relate. I’ve suffered with anxiety/panic attacks for years. I am on a journey to self healing through holistic nutrition. On this journey, which I am still on, I’ve had to admit that I needed help. I’m the type of person who NEVER asks for help, so this was very hard for me. I will say, sugar has a huge impact on me and I’ve been learning so much about how nutrition effects the mind. Learn to listen to your body, ask for help when needed, don’t forget to take time to yourself to just sit back in a hot bubble bath and relax. Learn to love yourself, you’re worth it! Wish you all the best.

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