The golden rule of overcoming mental health obstacles reads, “you have to want to be helped”. I’ve learned this over the span of my mental health journey after some devastating abuse I experienced in my childhood. Sadly, my mother turned to drugs when I was just 8 years old. She became addicted to methamphetamine and needless to say, it was devastating for my family. My brother and I were severely neglected during this time and were put into some very uncomfortable situations. Drug dealers coming and going, a missing mother for extended periods of time, strange paraphernalia around the house – we just couldn’t process it all. Luckily, after just a few months we were court ordered to begin living with our father and the nightmare was over.
It took me years to come to terms with the fact that I would never be able to accept my past and continue positively into my future without help. Asking for help is not always easy, but keep in mind that no one should have to keep abuse a secret. No one is meant to handle it alone.
Unfortunately, I have also had many friends and family members who have struggled severely with their own mental health. However, often times the illness continues untreated because people will not help themselves. No one on earth can help you if you aren’t willing to help yourself. This is a problem that I struggled with for years. I put my family and friends through hell from time to time because I was miserable and they didn’t know why. It wasn’t until I revealed the intricacies of my abuse and asked for help that I was able to separate myself from the events and know that my abuse does not define me as a person. I was a victim of abuse, but I am not my abuse.
If you are going through an emotionally trying time or are trying to come to terms with past events, I urge you to first think of your family before you continue on your current path. Many people fall into a black hole of depression and don’t know how to get out and/or simply give up. You must remember that it is not the job of your loved ones to lift you up, you have to want help first.
Just because you are suffering from a mental illness does not mean that the world has to treat you differently. It is your job to work towards your mental health goals, thus, you can move into a better future that you create for yourself. Again, imagine your friends and family. Do they bring a sense of well-being and helpfulness into your life (or at least try)? What are they receiving in return? If the answer is only anger, sadness, and no appreciation because of your mental illness, then it’s time to take a stand against your mental health. The fact of the matter is your mental health may be affecting theirs.
I understand this all too well, I tried to hold in the sadness and anger I had for my past and of course, it didn’t work. I went through spouts of deep depression and occasionally dragged friends and family members down with me or didn’t speak to them at all. It was absolutely not a way to live.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you have a loved one whose mental health is suffering, you may understand how incredibly trying it can be to try to make the situation better. The truth is, you can’t. No amount of love or friendship can erase a traumatic experience and if it isn’t dealt with, the emotional scarring may only deepen.
Regularly, those who suffer from emotional damage turn to drugs in order to self-medicate the pain that they feel. This may occur because of a lack of support or a suspected lack of support, especially if the victim is young. They may feel like there is no one to turn to, no one will listen, or that no one will believe them. I am genuinely lucky that I never seriously turned to drugs or alcohol. Several of my friends and family members used drugs as an escape for the anguish that they endured.
If you believe that someone in your life may have gone through traumatic life experience, please offer to be a part of their support system. Strangely enough, I never considered therapy or counseling until I had become an adult, years after my abuse took place. All it took was one little seed planted in my head by a loved one and I knew that’s what I needed to do. So, just know that all it takes is letting the person know that there are options available – they do not have to continue suffering. It may take some time for them to come to terms with this fact and ask for help, but someone who wants to be healthy will eventually take the first step towards a better life.
Trisha is a writer from Boise, ID. She is a dedicated vegan who promotes an all-around healthy lifestyle, including mental health. You can find her on twitter @thatdangvegan or check out her blog thatdangvegan.com