Living with mental illness can be lonely and terrifying. When you finally decide (if you decide) that enough is enough it can hit you really hard. It’s only then that you find out you’re missing some key ingredients; your support network.
Numerous people had reassured me that I deserved help and that maybe it was time to ask for it. I mean really ask for it. Despite their concerns, I carried, under the strict illusion that I was coping and I would continue to do so until I was better. Everything was under control; The job, the treatment, the family issues. I didn’t need anything else.
Except I really wasn’t.
No one was able to get through to me until the day I decided to speak to someone.
I approached S after a particularly bad week, one in which I had just found out about my grandmothers terminal cancer diagnoses. It all came to a head the previous night when I realised that I was completely unable to continue on the way I had been. With that in mind, I approached S the next morning with the intention of a quick chat about my options. That quick chat quickly changed into confessional, tears and all.
Having this conversation, although embarrassing, helped give me the strength to ask for the time I needed to recover, and without it, I honestly don’t know where I would be now.
I don’t want to digress from the subject, but although my parents are wonderful people I don’t think they really set me up with the best self-esteem in the world.
Having such a low sense of self-worth throughout my life has led me to do everything for others and almost nothing for myself. This ultimately led to a sense of burnout and a downward spiral into depression and a loss of self. As cliche as it sounds, I’m not only recovering from anorexia but I’m also learning who I am, what I feel and that I’m a decent human being and I deserve to feel happy.
It hasn’t been easy for me, but since speaking with S on that fateful day, I’ve been taking all the help I can get from others and from the National Health Service. I’m coming to learn that it’s okay to ask for help when you need it.
There are many things that can stop people from asking for the help that they need at work and at home, especially when it comes to mental illness.
I’m the first to admit that I’m terrible at asking for help for a variety of the above reasons, not least of all the fear of what others might think. Even now during my journey of self-discovery I still find it difficult to ask for what I need. But asking for help in regards to our mental health is so, so important for many reasons.
One important thing to remember is that you deserve help just like everyone else. It’s taken me longer than I care to admit to actually realise that and occasionally I still have to convince myself that I have a right to take up space in this world.
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