Stressed, depressed? Ask for help! “One of the biggest mistakes in life is the inability to ask for help.”
by Luke Schmaltz
According to Science.org. the human brain has hardly changed in the last 35,000 to 100,000 years. However, the level and variation in stimulation and stress it is currently subjected to has increased exponentially – particularly over the last century.
Indeed, the human brain is being bombarded with the mass results of its own run amok sophistication.
Our brains become overloaded, the true range within them becomes saturated, and some people’s minds become sick. The circumstances can be equated with overeating and abdominal pain, but the consequences of “mental aches” are far more devastating.
Humanity, especially Western society, is going through a mental health crisis. More and more people are overwhelmed by the pressure, responsibility, confusion, misinformation and myriad other stimuli that are ever-present in everyday life.
However, the chaos cannot be fixed by throwing prescription pills into the void. We must dig our way out of this hole with the same tool that got us here in the first place – our humanity.
People from all walks of life can become sad, distressed, depressed and yes – suicidal at any time. When the walls close you and you’re all alone, when life doesn’t seem worth living but a tiny part of you wants to turn ship and find a way out of the darkness, the best course of action is to ask for help.
how to start
dr Arin N. Reeves, author of “In Charge,” a guide for women who are fed up with being tired, offers a guide to the topic of exhaustion as it relates to mental health. She says the problem is that it’s hard to tell when exhaustion isn’t exhaustion. While we’re more open about mental health, “we still don’t forgive or be patient with people who find themselves in this gray area. People are being pressured to be okay instead of not being okay long enough to fix the problem.”
The biggest barriers that hold people back in crises are stigma and shame, suggests Dr. Bill Howatt before. The three types of shame, says the psychological expert, are “self, peer, and organization.” When a person doesn’t feel “good enough,” they get caught up in shame. Therefore, they lack empathy for themselves and others.
Motivated to get rid of the pain, they focus on relieving symptoms like drinking. Howatt HR CEO says we need to educate people that mental health is no different than the flu. “We can have a physical flu and with support it will go away. Even an emotional flu can go away with rest and support,” he explains.
When to act
Warning signs of an impending mental health crisis are numerous and vary from person to person. Achea Redd, author of the recent book BeComing Your Own Safe Space,” suggests what to look out for based on personal experience.
She says to look out for these signs: Sudden changes in sleep patterns (either too tired or unable to sleep), changes in appetite, not enjoying the things you used to do, headaches, gastrointestinal problems, or Stomach pain.
“Constantly brooding over the same thought can cause you to become hyperfocused, have a racing heart, and lose concentration,” Redd warns.
Where to turn
Licensed social worker Tina Rushing says: “I always say that professionals are crucial in a crisis. Loved ones can help [and] be there for you, but mental health professionals have the right tools to make the difference.” The PRSL website publishes an extensive list of international resources available anytime, anywhere for those in crisis.
For example, in the US, the Crisis Text Line can be accessed by simply texting “HOME” to 741741 and the person will be connected (at no cost) to a mental health support network. “I used it personally when I was having a panic attack after an argument with a loved one,” says Rushing. “They helped me manage my thoughts and feelings and worked with me to figure out why I spiraled afterwards.”
Resources on the PRSL website also include hotlines for veterans (1-800-273-8255 press#1), domestic violence (text START to 88788), rape and incest (1-800-656-4673), eating disorders ( 1-800-931-2237), Suicide Prevention (SMS TALK to 741741); LGBTQ+ (Text START to 678678); plus many more options.
What to say
dr Howatt offers solid advice for those willing to voice their need for help. Begin by understanding that a mental health crisis is an intrapersonal impairment of emotions and thoughts that drive behavior. The person doesn’t need to know what’s wrong or why they feel the way they do. “All they have to do is say, ‘I’m fighting w
with my emotions and thoughts and I’m not sure what to do. I need help [in order] to find out what I can do.’”
dr Adds Arin N. Reeves, “It’s helpful to have someone you really trust who you can share your plan with and ask if they can do some of the communication for you. If not, and you’re trying to explain the crisis, focus on specific things that can help you describe what you’re going through.”
It is difficult for professionals to grasp your feelings in a crisis. They need to hear facts they can embrace. Examples: “I haven’t eaten in two days, or I haven’t slept for more than two hours at a time, or I can’t get out of bed.”
Break the stigma
Western society’s obsession with perfection and striving for an unattainable status quo results in those suffering from mental illness being judged, shamed and condemned.
“Mental health has been viewed as a moral weakness for many years. Changing the culture requires education and leadership to make the prevention of mental health and mental illness a priority,” explains Dr. Howat. His point: There’s nothing wrong with getting help. It’s a good choice and no different than going to the emergency room if you have a broken arm.
So off to the doctor. Assess yourself. Pay attention to how you feel and take pain seriously. You are not a hero because you persevere when you should let go and get help.