What is Keeping You From Getting Help?
One of my primary intentions behind starting ReeCreation Ministries was to provide a space to talk about mental illness. Yet as I sit down to write this post on that very topic I’m finding it quite difficult.
Why? When I search deep down, the reason I’m having a hard time writing this is fear and shame. What if people who know me learn my story and start looking at me differently? Would they judge me? What if I was just being emotional? Maybe it’s all in my head unlike others with real or bigger problems?
What if no one wants to hear my story?
Then I think about how I am not alone in this. There are others going through some type mental illness or crisis who feel this way. Others who are finding it difficult to talk about their struggle, much less ask for help. So in an effort to get people talking and gain the courage to ask for help, I share with you a piece of my story.
5 reasons it took me so long to even acknowledge I was struggling:
1. I was unaware
I started to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety back in middle school. Yet there wasn’t anyone I can recall growing up who talked about mental illness openly. So I didn’t even have any background knowledge to describe or understand what was really going on. I was always considered pretty emotional as a child so I just chalked it up to personality. Maybe this was just the way I am.
2. I was afraid of letting others down
As time when on and the symptoms continued I became a bit more aware that I might have a problem. However, I still couldn’t talk about it. I was worried about what others would say if they ever found out. Particularly my family or people from my dad’s church. See I was a pastor’s kid. The thought of needing any kind of help for depression or anxiety seemed wrong. I was worried about what people would say about my dad, the pastor. Would it hurt his ministry? Would it hurt our family’s image? I didn’t want to disappoint my family – or really anyone – by talking about my struggles.
3. I didn’t want to be a burden
For years I struggled in silence. I always thought I can push through this. I don’t need to bother anyone with my problems. If only I can find a way to be happy. Maybe I just need more friends or I need to do more. So I kept busy. I was involved in clubs and sports in school and in various church activities. But it didn’t take away these feelings of emptiness and loneliness. It didn’t remove the low image I had of myself. In fact it made me feel worse, because I felt like a failure that I couldn’t “fix” myself, or just get over it.
4. I was ashamed
I don’t know exactly where I got the idea that if you’re a Christian you shouldn’t have depression or anxiety. Now I know that’s not true, but at the time I believed it. I was so ashamed for what I was going through. It didn’t help that when others would talk about someone needing therapy there was a tone of judgement in their voice. I’ve also heard comments like maybe they aren’t spiritual enough that they would go through something like depression. They just need to pray more…
There was also a time when other girls my age from my church, were going through their own struggles. Such as getting involved with the “wrong” crowd, running away from home or from the church, or even unplanned pregnancy. When these things happened to these girls some of the adults said to me, “it’s a good thing you’re not like them.”
Not sure if they meant that to be some sort of compliment, but I certainly did not take it that way. Those comments hurt . It was hurtful and discouraging to see those other girls going through what they were facing; without any real sign of compassion or help from others, especially people who’s suppose to care about you. And I was hurt – thinking if only you knew about the secret I carry. If only you knew what I was struggling with internally, would you still think the same thing?
5. I didn’t know where to get help.
Hearing something like that made me question, if I can’t get help from the church, where can I get help from? I know the church isn’t a perfect place, and I don’t want to blame the church for my struggles. I also understand now that not everyone is like those people who were judging those girls. But in that moment it was still hard to hear a comment like that from someone you expected to be more mature and guide you. So the only thing I knew to do was hold on to my secret for as long as I can.
But I couldn’t and shouldn’t have to suffer in silence anymore. It was a long hard journey to finally reaching out to someone, and yes I did get the help I needed. There is more to this story, which I will share about in a later post. But I wanted to pause here for a minute, and ask, do you find yourself in a similar situation?
Are you – like I was – struggling in silence holding on to your secret about your need for help?
What has kept you from reaching out to someone? Is it a lack of information, or lack of support, or just not sure what you’re going through or who to turn to?
Please let me connect you to some resources from Mental Health America, that could hopefully be the starting point of your healing process.
If you filled out any of the screening tests you can print it out and take it to your medical physician to begin the process of finding the appropriate care you need. Having the results of the screening test can provide you a tool to communicate what you may be going through.
You can also check out the Treatments and Resources, provided by Mental Health America for other possible options.
Please, do this for yourself today.
For those who have been on this journey of mental illness, or still going through it, feel free to share what has or is helping you. I hope this can be a safe space for others to talk openly about their struggles and find support and encouragement, and to know You Are NOT Alone!