“It’s Not A Big Deal”: Why It Took Me Years To Finally Get Help

brown wooden blocks on white surface
brown wooden blocks on white surface
Photo by: Brett Jordan/Unsplash

I’ve known I had mental health problems since early high  school. I tried to put names to my feelings, to try and explain  why I felt that way and how to fix it.  

Of course, there isn’t much you can do to fix a mental  illness, only manage it. But still, I tried. The one thing I didn’t  do, however, was ask for help.  

My whole life, I’ve been surrounded by people who  struggled with mental illnesses, particularly depression and  anxiety. The problem was that I also was surrounded by  stigma towards mental illness. For a long time, I felt like  something was wrong with me because of my struggles with  my own mind, that I was somehow less worthy of love or  help because my problems weren’t visible to everyone. 

My mother has struggled with depression most of her life,  and I always knew it. But when I started to think about my  own mental health, I found that my depression was very  different from hers, and so I felt like I was somehow faking  it, despite knowing that if I could just stop feeling this, I  would have.  

But depression in adults presents itself very differently than  in teens, as most mental illnesses tend to. Whereas she felt  a deep, all-encompassing sadness all the time, I just felt…  nothing. I couldn’t explain it to anyone, the way I felt as if I  was just watching my own life play out without feeling  motivated to take part in it.  

I was terrified that someone, anyone, would confirm my  fears that I was just making it all up in my head. Then my  brother started school, and immediately it became apparent  that his own struggles and difficulties were much more  visible than mine.  

So, I decided to just… fade into the background. He went to  psychologists and specialists to try and get answers, and I  heard all these possible diagnoses and the reasoning  behind them and thought “That could just as well be me.” I  just never said anything. 

I felt guilty for even thinking about taking any focus away  from him, who was struggling in school and clearly a priority,  to selfishly try and make myself feel better. 

I never really struggled in school. I had good grades, and  teachers liked me.  

What I struggled with was focusing. I was always known  as a chatterbox in school, and I often turned teachers out in  the middle of class because I simply couldn’t pay attention  anymore. But because it never affected my grades, my  

parents never really thought much of it.  

They simply told me to pay more attention and talk less, and  that was that. I’m now 23 and finally on the way to a  diagnosis for ADHD. Psychologists list chattiness and  spacing out as symptoms of ADHD in girls and women,  something that is less common in boy patients, which is why  it’s not often something that triggers alarms for most people.  

Four months ago I took my first ever set of therapy sessions  to help with my anxiety and depression, which hit an all-time  low late last year. I know that I was only able to take these  steps for myself because I no longer live with my family, and  thus no longer feel guilty for demanding attention for my  problems. 

I only have myself to worry about now, so I finally gave  myself the chance to try to get better, and I feel better for it.  Sometimes, just having someone confirm what you think  you know is enough to lift a weight off your shoulders, and  that’s how it’s felt for me because I never thought I would  get that at all.  

For Mental Health Awareness week, this is my message to  you: get help. Reach out. Even if you feel like it’s pointless.  It never is. You might not get the answers you’re expecting,  

but you’ll learn something that will help you keep going  forward. Psychological help is something every single one of  us can benefit from, regardless of how high or low you feel  at any given time.  

Sometimes just talking to someone is enough to make you  feel a little better, and that, in turn, is enough to help keep  going. Your mind is a part of you, just like the rest of your  body, and keeping it healthy is crucial, always. 

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