This week, I wanted to have a conversation about what I am currently trying to do — ask for help. I want to write this column to create open conversations about subjects we don’t talk about often. Everyone is different; we don’t know anything about what is going on in someone’s mind. We can benefit from listening to other people’s opinions, for it allows us to learn something about ourselves. We’re all humans, after all. Part of the human experience is asking for help, so why is it so difficult?
When we’re young, we ask for help with everything. I remember asking my mom for help, and she would ask me if I tried it myself first. I always answered no. As a child, I did not hesitate to ask for help. So, why then, is there a sudden urge to stop asking and taking everything on ourselves? We develop the idea that there is a difference between small problems and big ones. We’re confident that our mom knows where our sneakers are, but we’re not sure she can tell us why we’re so anxious. But why should those things be any different?
One of my good friends from West Chester has taken this step – getting professional help. She told me that, while it’s great to seek help from friends, family and those who give you comfort, those people are helpful for temporary problems. She says this is because “even if your friends have the best intentions and generally solid advice, professional help can be extremely beneficial because they have the training and education to help you take solid steps towards working through your issues.”
I asked my friend why she thinks people are hesitant to ask for help. She feels that getting help is sometimes like admitting defeat. “We are so reluctant to make mistakes or do something wrong that we don’t want to seek help when we need it… There are many different reasons for somebody to experience mental illness. Our pride gets in the way and tells us that it’s our fault and that we did something wrong and need to fix the problem ourselves.”
Taking that step is the hardest and most important part of feeling better. If we don’t take that step, we become complacent with these problems. I think that we tend to become complacent for any number of reasons: we feel our problems are not as bad as others or that our problems are not worth the time. We are taught to be big kids and do things ourselves. We ignore our problems to avoid letting them consume us. In this ignorance, we are hurting ourselves by letting those problems intensify. Seeking help, perhaps professional help in particular, forces us to stop ignoring what we’re doing to ourselves.
The thing is, you’ve never gone through anything like what you’re going through now. Even though other people may be going through something worse, you are going through the worst thing in your world. Give it the attention it deserves. I’m grateful for the conversation I had with my friend, as she is a great example of what being brave and getting help can do for you. She says, “In general I am a big fan of getting help. If you had the flu, you would go to the doctor, so why should mental health be treated any differently?”
Hannah Barras is a third-year communications major with a journalism minor. HB888984@wcupa.edu