Before we can get help we have to realise that we have a problem. If a family member believed you had cancer and you were so utterly convinced that you did not, you in all likelihood would not go to your Doctor to get it checked out. You would believe that it was a waste of their time and yours and besides which you have no symptoms of any illness, let alone cancer. You might, if you were feeling particularly kind-hearted and had a medical issue to discuss anyway, go to your Doctor to talk about your family member’s concerns.
We are the same when it comes to our mental health yet even when the symptoms are obvious to everybody, we go into a denial about our condition. Perhaps it is the stigma still attached to mental health issues; we don’t want to be seen as “the loony one” or for people to believe that we are a danger to our friends and family. Or perhaps it is because it is something a bit more abstract: it is our internal thoughts both suffering and evaluating the problem. Think of it like a computer virus scanner. If the scanner itself is infected it will not recognise infections and will give itself a clean bill of health while the virus multiplies and destroys your data.
Only when we identify that we have a problem can we really begin to tackle it. Unfortunately, even when we do realise we have a problem, most of us can easily justify it as not being big enough of a problem. In my case, my lifelong feelings of inadequacy, my low self-esteem, poor self-image and self-resentment were normal. I didn’t see those feelings as a big problem and even tried to justify it to myself as being able to harness those feelings positively. To an extent this was true; I can be very determined and stubborn at times so I could harness those feelings of not being good enough to attempt to prove myself wrong. Unfortunately, it also meant that I never asked for help – I didn’t want people seeing how I couldn’t cope – and I would push myself beyond physical and mental limits until I would break down.
This had to change because when things went so horribly wrong last year I had no such mental crutch to lean on. For the first time in my life I had to ask for and accept professional help.