Today I spoke to someone about someone they were worried about. The second someone wasn’t seeking or using the help that was on offer. We wondered why.
I then remembered that realising and accepting that you have a mental health problem is an ABSOLUTELY MASSIVE STEP. It’s a massive step to accept things when you’re thinking straight but it’s even harder when you’re not, and I’ve blogged before a few times about anxiety and it’s impact on your pre frontal cortex (the decision making part of your brain).
So why won’t they accept the help?
Well I’m not them so I don’t know but perhaps they aren’t thinking straight, perhaps everything feels overwhelming even picking up the phone to talk to someone, perhaps they feel that because of the stigma of mental health illness (remember it’s an illness) means that they feel useless, shame, guilt and a host of other emotions that the simple act of picking up the phone and talk to someone is too big.
A friend told me that when they shared at work about depression that it was a bigger step than when they came out. Saying this stuff is BIG.
So how can we help people accept that they might need help?
And importantly we can try and help people build their personal resilience so they feel more able to make that massive step.
Imagine you can’t dance, have never danced and can’t think of anything worse than going and dancing in front of someone you don’t know. Perhaps you're on Strictly. Feels scarey, makes you feel anxious. Ok well then just ring the helpline. There’s help out there. Off you go. Make that massive step. 'Now messing up the Argentinian tango with Flavia is....'
Now imagine you have to do that dance but you’ve spent some time beforehand building your confidence, working to reduce your anxiety, understanding that uncertainty about what might happen is normal and is ok, realising that the catastrophe you think might happen will very likely not, taking some time off to relax, doing some exercise, writing a diary about your thoughts etc. Is it a bit easier to make the step, when you feel a bit more resilient, a bit more in charge?
Ok so you don’t like dancing so perhaps it’s a big sports match, you’ve been thrown in the deep end, you’re taking a penalty, you’ve not practiced enough, your mind isn’t in the right place, it’s bloody hard, you feel so much pressure, you’re worried about being viewed as a failure. But with practice, and coaching, and healthly living and a host of other things you can do it. It’s still scary but you can do it.
It’s essential for recovery that you do accept you have a challenge to overcome and that you might need help.
Enabling yourself to make that huge acceptance step by being kind to yourself, taking care or yourself and giving your anxious / depressed / insert other condition here brain a rest is just as important.
So if you’re struggling, maybe try being kind to yourself first and build up to that step.
If you know someone who is struggling help them by guiding them to build their resilience so they can make that step.
Some will find it easy, like the dance, some will find it hard. Saying the words out loud that you have a challenge and need some help is massive.
Appreciate and understand that, be kind to yourself and be kind to others, maybe try some stuff in the wheel below.
Mr Paul Wyse