Mental Health Week – It IS Okay to Admit You Need Help!

May 6 -12, 2013 is Mental Health Week, a week designed to raise awareness and continue the conversation about mental health.

Canadian Mental Healthy Association logo

This topic is one that is close to my heart because last year I was finally able to face my own issues. For years I had problems that I couldn’t diagnose but I was afraid to seek the help of my doctor because of the stigmas I had in my own mind. Growing up, I was around a distant family member who suffered from an extreme form of mental illness that manifested in bizarre behaviour on her part and I had mistakenly thought that admitting I needed help would make people think negative things about me — that they would think I was “crazy”. I actually look back at how I felt and I am embarrassed and ashamed. I’m not embarrassed and ashamed that I needed help but I have those feelings because I held my own prejudices surrounding mental illness and never realized it!

Last year I finally decided to go and talk to my doctor and tell him how I was feeling and the ways in which stress and anxiety manifested itself. There were days when I didn’t even want to leave the house because dealing with people caused me so much stress. My doctor (who I have to say is a wonderful guy!) prescribed medication for me and suggested a book for me to read that he felt would help me.

A year later with some tweaking, I feel better than I can ever remember feeling in my life! Though I don’t think I’ll ever fully be without anxiety, I am able to consciously stop fixating on things and to recognize that most of my fears are unwarranted. It amazes me that at the age of 41 I finally feel like my true self has emerged. While it might sound corny, I feel like I’ve escaped a cocoon I’ve been wrapped in almost my entire life and I’m a butterfly!

butterfly

I have to admit that when I started writing about Mental Health Week, I never planned to share this part of my life. That being said, if my experience can help even one person to seek the help they need and to understand it really is OKAY to admit that you need help, it will be well worth it!

You can learn more about Mental Health Week and find evnets in your community by checking out the Canadian Mental Health Association website.

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18 Responses to Mental Health Week – It IS Okay to Admit You Need Help!

  1. Brenda Penton says:

    Thank you for posting this. I wish more people would do the same. I’ve suffered with anxiety all my life and it was during college that it had gotten really bad. I have generalized anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, with many different phobias. I don’t have a job as result of it. For a while I had even been housebound. For the longest time I was so embarrassed and ashamed that something like that had taken control of my life and prevented me from doing so much. I felt like I was a bad person. I had always been told that it was my fault I was like the way I am and had many friends and family members tell me to “get over it” or “stop it” or that it was an excuse to be lazy. I thought if I went to get help that they would just tell me the same thing.

    It is always nice to know that you aren’t alone and that others did seek help and have gotten better. Posts like yours can and do make such a big difference to people, so again, thank you to you for posting this πŸ™‚

    I am getting better each day though and gaining confidence and I know it will only get better from now on!

    • Thank YOU Brenda! I had a lot of anxiety about sharing my battle with anxiety (ironic as that is!) with all of you. There are many people in my extended family and at work who have no idea though some have remarked that I seem “more mellow” in the past year.

      I am so glad to hear that you are getting better each day! I think you are incredibly courageous because you have faced things and are working to get better!

      Your comment has literally made me day! πŸ™‚

      • Brenda Penton says:

        I usually am too shy to talk about it, but I thought “Hey, if she can do it, I can do it!” and that is exactly what I hope others will do, too! πŸ™‚

      • I hope that others will as well. The statistics surrounding youth mental health issues are staggering. I think that most people are caring and understanding and aren’t judgmental so facing fears is a great thing!

      • Sandy says:

        I give both you, and Brenda a ton of credit for speaking out about your battle with your mental illness. I have a few people near and dear to me who suffer greatly with a mental illness, so although I do not suffer myself, I do know a lot about what it can be like for those of you who do. The best thing you can do is what you’ve done, reach out to get the help you need and talk to people about it. I am so happy that you are in a place in your life now where you have been able to reduce the stress and anxiety πŸ™‚

      • Thanks Sandy! It is really appreciated!!

  2. Ester G says:

    Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚ It’s so important to keep the dialogue open about issues involving mental health. I know so many people who have at one point or another in their lives battled with depression and/or anxiety. I believe that society is moving in the right direction to better understand mental health. At work I see them offering more and more programs designed to improve mental health, and programs such as Mental Health week are helping to reduce the stigma. Thanks again for your story!

  3. Colleen K. says:

    …It was kind of you to share your story with us…I just pray that more people will get help and not suffer for years because of fear of the judgement of others.

  4. Fern Lehmann says:

    I have family members who suffer from mental illness. I have a grandmother who died due to mental illness and an aunt (her daughter) who followed in her footsteps and refused help and died due to her disease. I have another aunt, on the other side of my family, who also refuses help as well. Her daughter was brave and sought help and was diagnosed with bipolar disease. We had to distance ourselves from them due to the hurtful things they did and said. We let them know if they were both getting help and were working on their issues, we would be there for them and if there is an emergency, we will be there. But we cannot continually subject ourselves to them due to the toxic relationship. I continue to pray for both of them. I have a brother-in-law who has had mental illness since he was a child and we see him regularly. He hurts himself more than he hurts us and we try to support him as much as we can. I suffer from depression and anxiety myself and I sought help in my twenties. I am stubborn and refused to let it control my life. It still gets me sometimes, but I continually work on it to keep it from taking over my life. I am in charge of my life, not my illness. I thank you for sharing your story. If more people would be open about mental illness, maybe more people would ask for help when they need it. We have to learn to remove the stigma surrounding mental illness.

  5. Robin says:

    May I ask what the book was that your doctor suggested? I struggle with anxiety, too. As did my grandmother, my sister and so do both my daughters. Obviously there is a genetic component.

  6. paydra says:

    I was recently told that I suffer from generalized anxiety…and then the “mental health whatever he was” did nothing to help me and just kept telling me that if I wanted anything to change in my life I had to change it…I felt completely frustrated by this and am still a bit angry..I understand what he meant but, it did not help me at all…anxiety holds me back from getting many things done..and I often have to play catch up….most people that I am close to, do not understand at all what I am going through…they attempt to, but, they only end up giving me their diagnosis or what they think I should do…and my husband and mother are the worst ones that do it….thank you for sharing your story!

    • I’m so sorry to hear that! Is there someone else you could see? I know I’m blessed that my doctor is a great guy — I told him when I first went that I had a fear of doctors and he has been kind and gentle. He has made me a believer in doctors again! I hope you can find someone who will help you — don’t give up!

  7. Soozle says:

    Thank you for having the courage to share this with your readers!

    I know first hand how difficult it is to share mental health issues with others..

    I went through a huge change in my life in the recent past and ended up having a VERY difficult time coping with the loss that came with it.. I tried my best to put on a happy face but on occasion crumbled. In those crumbling times I either had people look at me like I was insane and not know how to deal with me or be very embracing.

    I ended up going to see a councellor – and that was the best decision I could have EVER made for my own well being. It was AFTER I went to see someone and shared that fact with others that people really opened up – a surprising number of folks I talked to had ALSO went to see councellors/doctors for their own struggles. It’s just not something people tend to talk about openly – but I really realized I was not alone!

  8. Elva Roberts says:

    May 6-I have felt for a long time that we have a lot of ‘walking wounded’ in our society . I have suffered from reactive depression at different periods in my life. However I am amazed at how many young people are afraid to admit that they suffer from some sort of anxiety or illness. It’s time we all realized that that our brain is as vulnerable as our other body parts and that it is the sensible thing to get help just as we would for a broken leg. Let us help and support one another in our journey through this life and be kind always.el03ro
    e.m.roberts@hotmail.com

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