One of the most difficult lessons I’ve learned in dealing with Depression is that it is okay, indeed, sometimes best, to ask for help. Now, I imagine at some point, as a very young child perhaps, I had no problem asking for help. But, somewhere along the line, asking for help got equated in my mind with weakness, with ignorance, with failure. And thus, I would much rather suffer in silence, smiling on the surface, and have nobody know that inside I was spiraling down the emotional drain. Sound familiar?
In reality, far from being an act of cowardice or weakness, I’ve found that asking for help takes courage. And it takes trust.
So, if you’re one of those “I’d rather ford a river full of crocodiles in a kayak than ask for help”-types, too, how’ve you overcome this attitude?
Here’s how I’d recommend getting a start:
1) Friends can be pretty intuitive. Try asking one to have a cup of coffee / tea / walk around a random beautiful outdoor feature with you. And then, when asked how you are, be honest. A forthright, “not so good” can lead to a sympathetic ear. And simply telling your struggles can be a relief, especially if you, like me, are a “bottle it up”-type.
2) Sometime when you’re feeling great, make a list of lifelines: who to go to for help and how to reach them, a hotline to call (do some internet research here), perhaps a Depression crisis centre in your area, maybe a mentor or spiritual leader if you have one. Keep this list somewhere easy to get to in a time of crisis. The simple act of creating this list can make you feel less alone.
Finally, if you’re not sure that this is such a good idea, if you feel that you’re probably better off staying mute, why not give it a try? Everyone is different… if you find that asking for help backfires and leaves you feeling worse, than abandon the experiment. What you may find, though, is that you have more support than you know, you are more loved than you thought, and you are not alone.
Being Depressed can make you feel very isolated. Asking for help is a great way to learn that Depression is not abnormal or insurmountable. And it gets easier.
And now, a Smile Inducer from The Muppets!