Hello mental health champions, how are you doing?
In this blog today, I want to talk about how to communicate with others about your mental health illness(es), setting boundaries, and how to explain to family and friends what you need for support.
One of the hardest things with mental health is that there is still such a stigma regarding it. This is so unfortunate because it can really deter people from asking for help and support because they feel ashamed of how they feel or are afraid of being judged. I know that this was one of the main reasons it took me so long to ask my mom for help. I genuinely was scared she would be mad at me if she knew what I was thinking. One of the hardest things I ever had to do was get the courage to ask for help. It was the absolute best thing I could have ever done. I don’t know what I would have been without asking for help. I felt like I was at rock bottom. I am very lucky, however, to have a parent who genuinely validated my feelings and took mental health very seriously. I know there are so many out there who aren’t as lucky to feel that they have a good support system.
When I reached out to my mom, I was literally hitting a mental breakdown. I remember everything as clear as day, even though this was 9 years ago. I started having a full blown panic attack in church on Easter. I asked my mom to go to the bathroom with me because I said I wasn’t feeling well. When we got to the bathroom, I fell to my knees and started sobbing. I told her that I was having these bizarre and scary thoughts and that I was afraid something was really wrong with me. At that moment, I was so scared and broken. She held me with open arms and was incredible. We talked in the bathroom pretty much the rest of the mass that day and agreed that we would find me a therapist the very next day. This is how it should go when asking for help. However, like I said, I know that doesn’t happen to be the case for a lot of people.
First off, I would evaluate who you have felt comfortable with. I would make sure that the person you go to for support has been supportive in the past and is understanding. Something that can be absolutely devastating is reaching out for help and not getting the validation you need. This also did happen to me with another close family member I decided to confide in. I will never forget the pain and betrayal I felt when this person didn’t respond the way I had hoped. I knew my mom was great with mental health and would be understanding of my feelings which was why I chose to tell her first. You can also confide in a close friend if that is someone that is trustworthy for you. It is so important that you are able to share your feelings and mental health struggles with someone that may help you feel less alone.
I also think that forums are such a great way to see you aren’t alone in your mental health struggle and to get advice about care options. Remember that you should ALWAYS consult a professional, but support forums are just another great way to connect to others and feel supported.
When you want to look for help for your mental health, I would first recommend checking to see which providers are in your network for insurance. It can be VERY expensive to have a session if your insurance doesn’t cover. However, remember that even if you don’t have insurance, even one session a month with a therapist can help and may be worth the price for you. I personally found a therapist in my insurance. However, things changed when my mom got a different job and I paid $140 out of pocket for my sessions. It was worth every penny for me because I knew that if I didn’t have my mental health stable, my whole life wouldn’t be stable either. Some therapists also offer payment plans. You can also look into charities to see if they would help cover your care. After you find a practice/counseling center, find a therapist that you think is right for you. Counselors usually specialize in different areas so I would try to find one that understands your illness or what you suspect is your illness. Remember that it is OKAY if you don’t connect with your counselor. You can change and you should change if you don’t feel like it is a right fit. I have personally gone through a lot of different counselors because they didn’t understand my illness (Pure OCD). Once I found a therapist that understood and validated me, I felt so much more comfortable in my own skin. She made me realize that I am not crazy, I just have an illness that I need to work through. The environment at the actual office is also very comforting to me and I look at my sessions as almost a “mental spa day”.
Something that I think is so important to the mental health community is that if you do need to miss school and or/work for a therapy appointment, don’t be ashamed. There is such a damn stigma about mental health and therapy and it is so unfortunate. Remember that mental health is HEALTH. We don’t feel guilty for having to go to a yearly physical, yet we feel ashamed to be honest about our mental health maintenance? NO! If you feel comfortable, be honest and open because you will also be helping reduce the stigma around mental health and therapy. I have such a passion for normalizing therapy because it is so important to so many people. Please feel free to check out our resource page for ways to find therapists near you.
As always, you are never alone and deserve to feel your best both physically and mentally. I believe in you. You can get help and you deserve to get help.
Talk to you soon brain battlers, Gracie <3
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