Posted in Of Psyche

Of Getting Help


I’ve spent the last few months contemplating about visiting a psychiatrist. There’s nothing shocking or revelatory about it, not only for me, but for all. Anyone who’s ever known me knows I’m a bit loopy, and getting help from a mental health practitioner is the norm. Everybody does it. And for a change, I will not talk about mental health and stigma, other than the one directed towards the mental health blogger (i.e., the assumption that they write about it to gather sympathy and attention), and focus solely on the simple act of admitting there is a problem, and wanting to do something about it. And then, acting on that want.

I’ve had chronic anxiety and depression all my life. I didn’t have a name for it before, and most of my childhood and young adult years were spent using the word “tension” anytime a task performed unsatisfactorily by me had to be explained. But, we’re not going to be terribly psychoanalytic here and start from the start, because there is no beginning and no end. This is one of the main reasons why I feel wary of talking about it, not just here but anywhere. Because, the notion behind our relatively discursive culture of mental health is, people have an agenda behind it. I have only one, and that is to help, if I can, anybody who is suffering. For my own case, I have no aspirations to be the poster child of depression. For one thing, it won’t make a good poster. For poster status, you either have to be a triumph or a cautionary tale, and I am neither. I know I will never completely overcome it, but I refuse to succumb to it.

This thing just changes with age and circumstance, ebbs and flows in ways I can’t anticipate, and it’s not the sort of thing that even a lifetime of treatment can cure, because I don’t think it can be cured. And I am not being masochistic when I say that, but I simply can’t imagine who I would be, or if it is possible at all to be human without it. I have talked about my experiences with getting help before, and my biggest reluctance about getting help is the possibility of being misunderstood. I am not an easy person when it comes to being helped, but more than that, I abhor being labelled and put into boxes. Also, I happen to be a know-it-all, ready to swing into action, to focus on outside crises, hoping that a by-product of those efforts will be remedying the inner crisis as well.

That’s the way it is. I know it’s not ideal, I know many of you will very kindly tell me of things I could do differently, but this is who I am. But, I want to get help because, among the perks of having anxiety and depression are a few physiological conditions, that can’t always be solved by a general practitioner or even a specialist. If the problem is psychosomatic, i.e. the mental crisis is causing the physical one, then I must try and obey logic. A life coach, or even a therapist, couldn’t help with that, and no matter how much meditation and affirmations might potentially overcome my scepticism, I still have a real health issue, that needs medical attention.

The main issue, I suppose, is trust and faith. If I had a fever, I wouldn’t have spent months debating it. I would have gone to as many doctors as required, taken as many medicines as required, until the problem was solved. But, I am so scared. Scared of being misunderstood or dismissed, and of being told I should be more worried than I am right now. I am scared of how long it might take to change for the better, how much I’d have to change in order to be a better functioning human being. I’d hate to be told by a professional that my unchangeable eccentricities are getting in the way, and at the same time, I’d have to trust this person to help me be able to make more of my life.

Clearly, this hasn’t been easy for me to write. I am more comfortable telling people what to do, than admitting what I need to do. But, I don’t know how to find the courage to get help, even if it might turn out to be another disappointment. And I’ve wasted so much of my time, my energy, and perhaps, a significant amount of what I have to offer, just by being scared. I usually end my essays with some sort of acceptance and solution, but this one shall remain open-ended. Because, to quote Jerry Maguire, “I have lost the ability to bullsh*t.” Especially, to myself.


Writer, Blogger, Kate Bush Fanatic

19 thoughts on “Of Getting Help

  1. It took one life shaking anxiety attack to make me realize the profound affect that it had on me and force me to acknowledge that from a medical standpoint. I put it off for years. The decision to further investigate your anxiety, on your own terms, is a big one. I hope you are able to find some balance, I know I struggle with it.

    1. I must admit, I am despairingly blocked. I’ve had it all pile up over the years, some I’ve managed to shed, but the list has grown. I admire your courage, and I feel I can only do that if I convince myself to go ahead and prepare myself for potential failure. Getting help for anxiety is even more anxiety-ridden!

      1. I’m not sure courage got me through the experience. I had a meltdown. I was ashamed of that for a long time, but I’ve come to terms with it now. My family was very supportive and I don’t know where I’d be if they hadn’t been.

        I hope you don’t have too much anxiety about your anxiety! And I hope you find a solution that works for you.

      2. That is so important, having a real-life support system of some kind. As I mentioned, I am not good when it comes to asking for help, and I try to cover up if something major happens, or perhaps nothing that major has happened. What keeps me going is my curiosity and enthusiasm for life, for engaging with people. I wouldn’t have made it so far if I didn’t have that.

      3. I have to say, Sourgirl, that documentary on Amy Winehouse has left a deep impression on me. Not only because of the loss of such a great talent, but just the way someone in such personal pain dealt with her life. If you keep aside all the talent and recognition, it is just so deeply saddening and moving, the things she did or had to do, the way her emotions were manipulated, her struggles with her health. And it was all there in her music, of course, but there was quite visible apathy to her emotions from some of the people around her. And she was such a great person. I read about how generous she was, involved in multiple charities closely, something that was never talked about in the media. She was on a show called “Never Mind the Buzzcocks” where she stood up for a couple of people who were being mocked. So was she, of course, but she handled it well.

  2. Even though I know you aren’t looking for it, kudos for the recognition and getting it out here in this manner. I have anxiety and lots of little nervous habits that are caused by the anxiety. I have thought about seeing someone but I have this abiding sense of what is the point on some levels. Like what will they tell me to do. Medicate myself when I have gotten through 47 years of living like this already? Do little exercises that will make me less anxious until I have a really big bout of anxiety (which is probably inevitable at some point?) Thats the reasoning in my head about it, yet I know that I should at least speak to someone but like was said above, that will cause anxiety about my anxiety, so it is a bit of a conundrum. I wish you well with whatever path you take.

    1. I think we haven’t spoken in the new year, so Happy New Year!

      I recently came across a psychiatrist online who briefly mentioned how recent research has shown that things like anxiety and depression are inevitable parts of the human emotional makeup. Perhaps not in the extreme variety, but it might explain why most people face it at certain points in their life. I’ve had bad experiences with therapy before, and I would not have considered going to a doctor had it not been for my medical condition. Therefore, I cannot tell you that getting help will help, but if it is causing serious problems, it is worth considering it. Better than giving up, eh?

      1. Happy New Year! I think you are right and I will give it strong consideration for indeed it is better than giving up. I don’t do resolutions really, but I do try to give myself guidelines for things I want to accomplish each year. One of them this year is to really work on physical health (and mental) and to go to all of the various rounds of doctors one should go to but which I haven’t been to in a long time. So I think you are right. Hope it all works out!

  3. Eloquently stated. I have had bouts of depression throughout my life, although when I was a child mom called it being “withdrawn”. Now it’s anxiety and panic attacks, which I have, mostly, under control through medication. My mom has suffered with mental illness most of her life and in 2010 was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. It’s always something, I guess.

    1. Thank you, Erica! It is so hard to have it compounded with something else. They might be independent of each other, but they both can and do influence each other as well. I sincerely hope you and your mother get better. Thank you for reading and sharing.

  4. It’s hard to seek help, especially with mental health, where there is still so much that people don’t understand. Medical issues, like fevers, have long track records, clinical trials, drugs tested and triple-tested and blind-tested for good measure… but when it comes to our heads, it’s still very much a Very Brave New World. It takes major guts to admit struggling, and you’ve done really well.

    I hope your appointment is swift and that your psychiatrist and you work towards a plan that is satisfactory and doable.

    1. Thank you! And another eloquent, perceptive comment from you. And this is exactly why I have kept away from psychiatry. I might still consider a therapist, where the worst case scenario is simply not getting helped, or something that did happen to me, breach of confidentiality. With psychiatric drugs, there is so much information everyday on how carelessly these are doled out (especially by general practitioners) and abused. Most of all, how many of these drugs don’t solve the problem even for those who don’t abuse them, and mostly keeps them numb. On the other hand, many people have been helped, which means it all boils down to luck.

      May I ask the reason behind your blog name? I see that you no longer keep it active.

      1. Yes, the subject of drugs is very fraught. On the one hand, they help a lot of people. On the other hand, they get prescribed really fast, without really giving the patient a chance to consider their options. Especially when the alternative is therapy – you need a few weeks to know.

        The reason for my first blog name was youth, cockiness, and reverse psychology. I guess I didn’t change it as well as I liked.

  5. Writing is very powerful and being authentic is very powerful and I believe you will transform your own self into the magnificent self you already are. I find much value in studying Dr. Wayne Dyer’s teachings and reviewing The Tao and have to commit to the practices daily. I only have experienced seasonal affective disorder, but I dislike labels too, so I follow my heart and inner wisdom to guide me. I believe you are already on your right path regardless of what your next step is, it’s the present moment that counts. I enjoyed reading.

    1. Thank you, and I can see it too. For a long time, I was searching for how to make the best of my time and my resources, and I feel that working further on this kind of thing is what I should do. I am passionate about connecting with and helping people, as well as the arts. I hope I can combine both, or at least get to do both more fully in future. Thank you for your kind words!

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