This is a guest post from my friend CeCe.
Trust your gut. You know if something is off.
Mental health is often invisible. It is up to us to detect when something may be wrong and to then ask for help. There is this terrible idea that you have to hit rock bottom and be dragged to a professional, before ever receiving help.
You don’t need to be in crisis to receive help!
You are allowed to ask questions about your mental health and be curious. There is nothing too small or too big. It can even just be ‘a feeling’.
You are allowed to talk to a psychologist simply to problem solve, make decisions and ask questions. You are allowed to ask about your attention span or ability to focus. You are allowed to ask questions about why certain things upset you. You are allowed to ask a therapist ANYTHING that you want to ask them. Their job is to help you, not judge you.
Sports psychology is a great example of how psychology is about more than just mental illness. Elite athletes often work with these professionals to improve performance. Psychology is a powerful tool that is not reserved only for those in crisis. Another example of psychology relating to more than mental illness is the many, many psychology experiments that have been run to simply understand how humans think and behave, so that this information can be used to improve wellbeing.
There is so much to be learnt and gained from exploring how we think.
Regardless of this, most therapists do not go into their job expecting every person that they work with to be at rock bottom. A good therapist will be a kind, caring person who chose their career to make impactful and lasting changes that improve their clients’ wellbeing. A therapist that suggests that you shouldn’t be in their office, probably isn’t somebody that you want to be working with anyway.
Wanting help or asking questions about yourself isn’t selfish. There is nothing wrong with needing attention. In fact, if you want attention, the chances are that you NEED it.
I have always been extremely worried about being or appearing attention seeking. So much so, that I asked my psychiatrist and psychologist whether they had ever thought that people that they had treated were attention seeking. Both of their answers really stuck with me. My psychiatrist said “Actually, no.” She then went on to say that people who were attention seeking were actually fulfilling a need. They NEEDED that attention. This helped me to slowly accept that seeking attention, and by extension; asking for help, wasn’t such a big, horrible thing that needed to be avoided at all costs. It just needs to be directed and managed appropriately. For example, in most situations it would probably be inappropriate to tell your co-workers all about your childhood trauma, however, telling your GP or therapist this information is incredibly important and encouraged.
This was echoed in my psychologist’s answer; “Sometimes people grow up in situations where they learn it’s not “okay” to express their needs for connection with people, so they can seek to find this connection in ways which might be viewed by others as “problematic”. We all have needs for connection though – it’s part of being human and there is nothing wrong with needing it.”
There is nothing wrong with seeking attention from a mental health professional. It is not shameful to want help from them. Just like you would want a doctor to fix your broken leg, it is natural to want help with your mental health. It is okay to want and need help.
When it comes to mental health, you are in charge and you have to advocate for yourself. You will know that something is wrong before anybody else. I did, and I wish that I had followed that instinct. You do not want to hit rock bottom or have somebody else to drag you to therapy. You also don’t want to live the rest of your life asking, ‘what if?’. What if things could be different?
You have everything to gain and nothing to lose from being brave and asking for help. Please trust your gut and be brave.