1 - Be Direct
Having depression makes it extremely difficult to be direct with others.
I always felt like I was being a burden. But I didn’t get the help I needed until I directly asked for it, until I took my life in my own hands and went to the hospital emergency room.
That’s what it took. I felt so ashamed at the time, but it was the absolute best decision I could have made.
If therapists won’t help you, find a doctor. If doctors won’t help you, find another one. This is your life we’re talking about.
Depression can make you feel like you’re worthless, and it’s not true.
You have value, and you always have.
Do whatever it takes to directly ask for help.
For instance, you could turn to a friend or family member and say, “I’m really struggling. I need help. I’ve been feeling depressed for months.” Often, the simplest requests are the strongest.
Don’t deviate from the story. You know your experiences.
And this leads me to point number two.
2 - Don’t Stop Until You Get the Help You Need
There were plenty of times that I felt like giving up.
Depression is no joke. It’s a horrendous illness that steals the energy and lives of too many people. That’s why I’m sharing my story. To give you hope. To let you know that there is a light at the end of the dark tunnel.
Whatever it takes, don’t stop. And I mean it–whatever it takes.
Here are a few ideas.
Write down what you’re grateful for.
Stick post-it note reminders where you’ll see them.
Ask a close friend to check in on you ever week.
In work settings, you may have heard of the term “manage up.” It’s when you communicate in a proactive way to your manager how you need to be managed. It seems strange. It seems forceful. But in the long run, it gives you and your manager a common language to speak. People aren’t mind readers. The sinister thing about mental illnesses is that they remain hidden until the behavioral and verbal clues appear.
Keep advocating for yourself. You’re worth every ounce of life you put into this world.
3 - Don’t Ignore Unlikely Sources of Help
Something strange happens when you start to share your story. When I started to write and talk about my mental health issues years ago, people started coming out of the woodwork.
People I never expected to have mental health stories started to share them with me. And, suddenly, my world got smaller.
Mere acquaintances turned into good friends. Distant work colleagues offered their support.
When you share your story, don’t be surprised if you get words of affirmation and shows of support from the unlikeliest of places. That just means the universe is listening.
It’s not your responsibility to judge where help comes from.
It’s your responsibility to accept the support and allow it to change your life.
4 - Don’t Downplay What You’re Feeling
Last, but certainly not least, do not downplay what you’re feeling.
Depression is like a cruel joke where everyone else is on it, and you’re left to guess what the punchline is.
Or so your brain would want you to believe…
When the sound is turned down in the world, when everything feels empty and bleak, I want you to remember something important:
This is your life, your one life. It has value, and you have value.
Only you can communicate how you’re feeling to the world–no one else can do it for you. When you downplay what you’re feeling, you’re not doing your part to allow others to help you.
We live in a society where we praise the saviors and ignore the ones who need help. But positions in life change constantly. Learning how to accept help graciously is one of the best skills you can learn, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time.
To help others, you must first learn to accept help. To be the light for others, you need to know what their darkness feels like.
Don’t get me wrong, though. Depression is serious. It’s not a fad. It’s not something that influencers can try on for size to get more followers. It’s an illness that can sometimes be fatal.
In Conclusion - The reality is that diseases like cancer inspire immediate action. Depression does not.
That’s why I share my stories. That’s why I do my best to put mental health issues into terms that are accessible and actionable.
What I hope you do after you read these ways to ask for help is to put them into action, either for yourself or for someone else.
There is no one perfect way to ask for help.
If you take anything from these past two issues, I hope you realize that asking for help is not a sign of weakness.
It’s something that transcends the spectrum of mental illness to mental health.
Asking for help is one of the clearest signs of human potential that you and I have.
So I beg you to fulfill your potential, no matter what it looks like.
What a way to start the week. My goal is that you look at part 1 and part 2 of my story and feel inspired. If you need help, please ask for it. If you need more ideas for how to ask help, please reach out and let me know.
P.S. A few of you responded to my request at the end of Friday’s issue regarding how you asked for help. The responses were surprisingly similar, so I’ll share the theme that emerged. The number one way that you actually got help that was worthwhile was by finding someone who truly cared about you as a person. It didn’t seem to matter about the exact qualifications of the professional. What mattered was that they saw you for you. I got the sense that you felt heard and understood by the people who finally gave you the help you needed. That’s been my experience too. Thanks for sharing your stories.