Thank you to everyone who gave such nice feedback and support on my last blog, it’s always scary admitting that you’re struggling but as I keep learning again and again – it is so, so worth it.
With that in mind, I thought today we could talk about how to tell someone when you’re struggling. This could be when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed. It could be when you think your mental health is at stake. It could be when you suspect a relapse is on the horizon.
The fact is, whether you have a long-term mental health condition or are feeling a bit run down – we all need to reach out for support sometimes. But how do we actually do that?
In some cases it can be incredibly hard – especially if the nature of your illness makes you feel ashamed, or, in denial. I know when I was in the grips of anorexia I didn’t want ANYONE to know. In that instance, I was lucky that my parents spotted the signs and took me to the doctor.
If you feel ashamed, embarrassed or guilty though, I promise there is something you can do.
I’m too ashamed/embarrassed to tell anyone
I get it. As much as mental health is being spoken about more and more, that stigma is still lingering in the distance. And yeah, some people still don’t get it. But you know what? A lot of people do.
I guarantee whatever it is you’re going through, you’re not alone. You’re not the first person to struggle with this and you don’t have to do it alone. In fact, you may be surprised when you do open up how many people come out of the woodwork to say “me too”. Sometimes we just have to be the first to speak out.
If you’re too embarrassed to tell your family or friends, there are plenty of other options. You can find a support group online, speak to a doctor or make an appointment with a counsellor. Remember doctors and counsellors are professionals (they’ve seen and heard it all!) and they are the best people to support you.
I feel guilty, I don’t want to be a burden
Again, I totally understand this. When your mental health is failing you it’s easy to fall into a negative spiral of thinking. You feel like you’re not worthy of help or that you’re just going to upset people. Well… this is flat out not true.
EVERYONE is worthy of support, including you, no matter how ‘silly’ your worries may seem. Those who love and care for you will want to know when you’re struggling and they’ll want to help. And if you’re still not convinced, go to someone objective like a doctor, counsellor or find a support group.
We all hold space for others, now it’s time for someone to hold space for you.
How to tell someone you’re struggling
OK, so you’ve decided you’re ready to tell someone that you need support and that you’re struggling – what do you do now? There are plenty of options and which one you try will totally depend on your personal circumstances and which one you feel comfortable with.
In person. Arrange a catch up with the person in question, decide where you want to do it (pick somewhere that feels safe) and prepare what you want to say. You may also find it helpful to print out any information you think may be helpful to explain how you’re feeling.
By letter. Putting pen to paper is so therapeutic, and writing a letter to tell someone you need support is no exception. Explain how you’re feeling and what you need. Send the letter in the post or leave it somewhere they’ll see it.
On the phone. If face-to-face feels too confronting, you may want to try a phone call instead. Again, pick a time and place that feels good to you and prepare what you want to say beforehand. You can always follow up the call with an email with more information or a face-to-face meet-up.
Online. Sometimes an email or Facebook/Instagram message suits us better. I know I’m much better writing about something than I am talking about it. Take your time and include any helpful links. Remember it can take people time to see these messages so try not to put too much pressure on when they’ll reply. If you don’t get a reply, try another approach.
If you’re on the receiving end of this conversation and are not sure what to do, you may find this post helpful: Supporting someone struggling with their mental health.
Join a support group
(Hand in Hand is a Facebook Community myself and Laurie set up to support creatives with mental health, but of course there are plenty out there)
Go to your doctor
Book an appointment with a private counsellor
(One of the brands I work for, Counselling Directory, is like the Google of counsellors – just type in your postcode and go)
Call a helpline
(Samaritans is the best known, but there are plenty out there)
Go to A&E
(If you’ve hit breaking point and are worried about your safety)
I hope this was helpful. So many of us wait until we’re really unwell before we seek help, but we need to start feeling more comfortable reaching out. Be brave, take a deep breath and have an honest discussion.
Take your health into your own hands and be strong enough to admit you need support. There are so many of us in this ship alongside you and we’re ready to help.
Just say the word.
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