Mental Health Awareness: Seeking Help
Let’s cut to the chase. There is nothing cute about anxiety. There is nothing simple about depression. And if you take any of these statements to heart, please, please know that there is nothing easy about mental health. Trying to silence the shrieks in the back of your mind to keep you from breaking down in the middle of class is paralyzing. Suppressing trauma and developing a persona who has not fought the same battles as another is a triggering mechanism. I am not a degreed student, but I have taken every psychology class offered at my high school. I am not an expert, but I am passionate. I am not okay, but I am doing everything I can to be. And I am not you, but I am someone who wants to be the catalyst for you to ﬁnd the help that is most effective for you.
All through elementary school, I would be driven to school by my mother. Everything was ﬁne and dandy, until she parked the car. My chest would begin to grow incredibly tight, and I would hysterically cry. I would become so upset that my hyperventilating would turn to physical sickness, and I would be sent home. Everyone assumed that I was just a fussy kid who wanted to watch cartoons instead of go to school. My teachers would yell at me to get in the classroom, and the school counselor would reprimand me to calm down. What they didn’t understand, however, is that I had no control over my actions. I would recognize that I wasn’t afraid of school and that I didn’t feel sick, but had no idea why I could not take charge on myself and take a breath.
After ten sets of visits with a psychologist in a town an hour away, I was diagnosed with panic anxiety disorder. This problem has become much more common among teens and young adults as years have gone on. Psychotherapy has drastically aided my anxiety, and has given me the power to lower my constant anxious feeling on my own. As I say this, however, I do not mean that I am free from anxiety. I cannot simply tell myself to calm down and magically my heart rate stabilizes. Anxiety does not work that way. Our mental states do not work that way. Because we, as one mind battling endless ﬁghts, cannot defeat one so large as mental disorder or disability, we must learn to be open to asking for help. It’s intimidating, and it feels as though we are being stripped naked in front of an audience. We feel exposed, and we feel invaded. If we no longer want to permit our mental demons inﬂict this restriction onto us, we must be brave and stand tall on that stage. Finding help is the part of the battle that calls for the most bravery.
Talk to someone who understands what is going on.
This doesn’t mean your friend who knows your deepest and darkest secrets. It means someone who has studied what you’re going through, someone who will not ask for you to preface every symptom you share with “it sounds ridiculous, but...” Psychotherapy is a double sided process, as you get the relief of talking with no boundaries, and your therapist has the opportunity to piece together your thoughts and experiences to ﬁnd aid for you. This environment doesn’t actually consist of you laying down on an oddly shaped chair and the therapist analyzing your mannerisms, like proposed in any ﬁlm piece ever. The meetings can be scheduled from sit downs in the ofﬁce, to a discussion over lunch at a local cafe. The key is for your comfort to be vulnerable.
When your doctor asks how you’re doing, be honest.
Normally at our annual check up, we assume that our physician is only looking for a response to this question if you’ve been having pains in your side or index ﬁnger is swollen. They have your health in their best interest - including mental health. If you let your doctor know about what you’ve been feeling, they will help. Having a relationship with the one person who may know you better than anybody possibly could will only provide you security and aid in ﬁnding what will make each day easier to face.
Brain chemistry is the root to what you are feeling.
People who claim that mental disorders are “made up” and “seeks for attention” are ignorant, and there’s no other way to say that. Depression affects the amygdala. Bipolar disorder challenges the success of homeostasis among neurotransmitters. ADHD involves the cerebellum. The list goes on, as every disorder interrupts the natural patterns and controls of the brain. These connections have been revealed through the technology of CT and MRI scans, and permitted the conclusion of psycho drug therapy and it’s effectiveness for certain disorders. Visiting a psychiatrist who will be able to prescribe the correct drug, if it is the most effective treatment, may be a bet worth taking. Some are hesitant on turning to medication for aid and fear becoming reliant on the drug, but if it has the power to alter and heal your daily routine, it is one to consider.