2020 has been a really rough year for me mentally. Physically, I have a lot to be thankful for and my situation is not half as bad as others. But emotionally, it has taken such a toll on me. Through this, I have struggled in seeking help. I have felt like speaking up was admitting failure, admitting that I was in “trouble” somehow, that I am not perfect and don’t have it together and my brain thought “that’s a bad thing, just be normal and hold it together.”
I kept saying to myself “next week, I’ll do x, and it will solve y, and everything will fine,” so I continued to try to hold it together, constantly bottling up my emotions.
I was a soda can, shaken almost every day with all of the emotions inside me bubbling up; until one day I exploded. The bubbles inside me popped and I got mad– I got angry– and at the ones I love the most in my life, nonetheless. And that’s when I knew I needed help. And that might happen to anyone, or you can seek help ahead of time and prevent that from happening.
So, to all my little soda cans out there, being shaken daily and trying not to burst open, here are a few tips I have to release that pressure, slowly and in manageable baby steps.
1. Read this blog post!
Congratulations! Just by being here and reading this means you are advocating for yourself, you are wanting to seek help and you are exploring resources to help you do so. Take a moment to recognize this is a huge step and your mind, body and soul thank you for it.
2. Write it down.
Write it down and stuff it away, keep it, or even recycle it if you want, but start by writing it down. I keep a journal, a journal that I love and adore and write almost every thought of mine into. And when I began writing down my emotions, it began to feel okay to have those emotions. Even if it’s not saying them out loud to anyone, it felt freeing to say them to myself. You never have to show anyone. You never have to even read it back. But begin writing your thoughts down and I promise they will eventually unravel and your heart will feel lighter.
3. Google is your best friend.
One of the hardest obstacles in seeking help is not knowing where to go. I mean, even with a regular basic check-up, our healthcare system is so complicated it’s hard to know where to go. It’s not like going to the grocery store when you need food and there are rarely Instagram ads to find the correct resources. So what do we do in the 21st century when we need information, we turn to google! I started by searching “mental services near [location].” It led me to therapy options, both in-person and online, info on hospitals with in-patient and out-patient programs to visit and how to start on a mental health medication.
4. Collect resources!
My google search led me to many different resources that I was able to use and FINALLY find the help I am in need of, and I’d like to share a few I used with you!
- Psychology Today– Equipped with helpful articles to read and a “find a therapist” search bar, Psychology Today is categorized by symptoms and allows users to explore their own psychology in a layman’s, user-friendly way. Getting help from any kind of doctor is usually intimidating and filled with complicated terms, let alone psychology and the brain being such a unique organ, but Psychology Today makes it easy on the patient which I really appreciate.
- Good Therapy– Good Therapy was the most useful site to directly contact providers. I found their contact form to be the easiest to use and I believe I got the most responses from people I found through their website.
- Your Insurance Coverage Website- The main function of both websites listed above is to help you find a therapist, and they both have options to filter your search results based on your insurance company and/or out-of-network providers. However, through my experience I have also discovered that my insurance company has a “Find Care & Costs” option on their website which was very helpful to definitively narrow down who was in my network and near me. I never knew this function existed before my journey to find therapy, so I wanted to also bring that to attention as well that many insurance company has databases you can poke around in too.
5. Insert encouragement in your daily life and use your space to your advantage!
Your space is exactly that, your space. Whether it be on social media, around your house, in your office, in your bathroom, in your bedroom, you can control what you see and what you read daily, so why not make it inspirational? So, almost like little thought bubbles around my space, I have put inspirational quotes for me to see, on sticky notes throughout my bedroom, my bathroom, and at my desk. It may seem silly at first, like “Decorating with sticky notes? How will this help?” but trust me, there may be some days that seeing that quote will simply remind you to breathe. I had a note in my closet in college that read “Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.” And sometimes when I would come home, feeling a little defeated, a little upset, I’d be changing my closet into pjs and I would happen to look at that note and for a moment it reminded my heart that whatever happened that day, whatever I might have been upset about or worried about, it would be okay. So for the chance that those moments may happen one day for you, the “silliness” is worth it.
Also, something we rarely think of as a canvas but look at constantly throughout the day, our phones! I don’t know about you but I have an unhealthy relationship with social media; I look at it constantly, not looking for anything in particular just mindlessly scrolling, and then I’ll put it down and come back like twenty minutes later as if there is going to be something new. So anyways, I noticed this was something I was looking at constantly and maybe you are too, so why don’t we change it into something positive? Follow inspirational accounts, unfollow the accounts that make you feel crappy, or MUTE them if you’re friends and you don’t want to hurt their feelings! The mute button is incredible. The mute button is The Real Mental Health MVP; you can protect your own mind without hurting anyone else and that is glorious! So change your social media, change what you look at, or even change the background of your phone! Put something inspiring there, so that way every time you glance down, you’re reminded of something positive. Take back your space and fill it with things that make you happy and aid to your mental health!
6. Tell someone.
This is the hardest of them all. I struggled with this because the number one person in my life, the person I turn to when I need help, is my mom. And my mind equated seeking help to admitting failure or defeat, so the last thing I wanted to do was disappoint the person who raised me. So, if you feel similar, if you don’t want to tell someone who is extremely close to your life, tell a roommate, tell a coworker, tell a classmate- tell someone that you have a close enough relationship to feel comfortable and that you trust them, but not so close to you that you might feel ashamed or like a failure. And then, by just telling one person, they will help you, they will check in with you, they will hold you accountable for finding the help you deserve and then eventually you can get to a point where you can tell the people closest to you. For me, it was my roommate, in fact it was two roommates I had over two different places I lived that helped me during that time. (If you’re reading this, thank you. You changed my life.)
When I finally did start speaking openly about my mental health struggles and I happen to say that I was afraid to speak up, someone asked me, “what if the tables were turned? what if it was your friend telling you they were struggling? Would you think less of them for advocating for themselves?” and I replied, “no I would think it was incredibly brave. I would think they were strong and I would be impressed they know themselves well enough to know what they deserve.” And that changed the game for me. You deserve more. You deserve to be healthy. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to seek help.