It has been almost a year since my last post. I meant to try to keep up with this blog, however as you can see, that did not happen. One of the reasons for my hiatus is the focus of this post.
Throughout the past year I’ve been in what I’ve been calling an on and off funk. Some days I’m okay and other days I’m not. I began noticing that I was crying more often and feeling more down. While most of the days that I cry last for only a few minutes at the most, there are other days I cry where it happens on and off throughout. I’ve also still still been feeling stuck in my life which has been ongoing for quite a few years now, feeling like I’m behind on big life stuff, not sure what my talents are or if I even have any, and many fears.
At the beginning of this year, I knew that it was time to be brave and become established with a new primary care doctor. I hadn’t been to a regular doctor (just dentist and eye doctor) in about ten to twelve years because after college I just let everything with my childhood doctor lapse for various reasons. Then as the years went by, I began to feel more and more nervous about going to a doctor and getting a physical done again. I was (am) self conscious about my body and my weight. I was afraid of what the doctor might say and think about me. Yet, I knew hat I couldn’t keep putting it off any longer either. So I made it one of my goals for the year to get re-established with a new doctor and to get a physical (and while I’ve made quite a few mistakes over the past few months, partly due to being new to having a doctor again, my new doctor has luckily been understanding for which I am grateful).
I met my new doctor in March and got “the works” done right off the bat during my first visit so that I couldn’t chicken out. My shyness crept up although I tried to hide my nerves as best as I could. During my visit I wound up being too scared and embarrassed to bring up my on and off funk. Later on, when I was at home, I wrote a long handwritten note to my new doctor to not only clarify a few of my answers from my appointment but to bring up a couple of things that I had been too scared to speak up about out loud, including my funk.
About a week after I mailed the note (plus a thank-you note), I received a call from my doctor and she talked to me about my anxiety a bit and asked if I would be willing to meet with the behaviorist at the clinic. I meekly said “yes.” My doctor then spoke to the behaviorist about me and a week or so after my phone call with my doctor, I got a call from the behaviorist and she had me talk about my anxiety and how I was feeling and then suggested we meet in person so that she could help me look into therapy options. About a month before my doctor’s appointment, I had tried contacting a therapist in my hometown and was supposed to meet but it had fallen through on my end and I had been hesitant about the whole thing from our brief email and phone conversations. That therapist was the first choice the behaviorist had thought of which makes sense location-wise, but after telling her about our exchanges which included another more recent email exchange, the behaviorist understood my hesitancy and called a few other choices up.
With the behaviorist’s help, I was able to find a therapist to see and had my first session in May. The idea of therapy had scared me and it wasn’t until both my doctor and the behaviorist suggested it that I began to open up about trying it; up until that point when some other friends has suggested it, I would adamantly yell “no!” to the idea because I was afraid that it meant that I’m broken and that there’s something wrong with me…because I was scared of the thought of needing therapy and didn’t know what it would be like. And I knew that I would probably have a hard time opening up to a total stranger about my small, dumb, petty problems, especially face-to-face.
Over the past few months of starting on my therapy journey, which is still scary and confusing at times, I’ve been slowly starting to open up more. I still have a hard time and freeze up a lot, and because I tend to write out my thoughts better, after having time to reflect on them, I tend to write a lot of self reflections to bring in and will either find enough courage to talk about them out loud or if I’m extremely scared or embarrassed to speak up about them, I’ll just hand them to my therapist to read. I’ve also been rotating dolls and stuffed animals to bring with me as they help comfort me somewhat, plus I love sharing them because I’m a kid at heart.
Recently my therapist, behaviorist and doctor have suggested that psychological testing might be beneficial for helping to get some answers and gain some clarity about my anxiety which also includes depressive thoughts. It can also help with possible medication choices should that happen. While I’m scared of both psychological testing and the possibility of going on medication, I also know that one or both are the next steps needed in my path to hopefully getting to a better place overall, mentally and emotionally. My therapist and behaviorist found another psychologist to refer me to for testing and my therapist has been helping me fill out the intake form and trying to help ease my worries about the testing since it’s a big, new step for me. While I’m afraid of it, I know that I have the support of my therapist, behaviorist and doctor, as well as family and friends. And without all of their support and help, even if progress is slow-going, I wouldn’t be at this point in my journey of personal growth and trying to improve my mental and emotional health and well-being. While still helpful in their own way, trying different methods on my own hasn’t helped as much as I would like, thus seeking out professional help was a big step that I knew I needed to take.
Sometimes it’s hard to speak up when we’re struggling with one or more areas of our lives and realize that we need help. We might be afraid, embarrassed, self-conscious and/or hesitant to ask for help because we’re afraid that if we can’t do it-if we can’t figure it out on our own-that we’re weak. Yet asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Asking for help is a sign of strength. We have to learn that it’s okay to not know all the answers. It’s okay to be lost and/or stuck. If we’re struggling, it’s okay to need a helping hand, whether it’s from a friend, a neighbor or a professional such as a doctor or therapist. Sometimes we need someone else’s guidance, support and insight to be able to move forward and continue growing. Taking that first big step to ask for help might be scary and confusing, nevertheless it also shows a lot of bravery and takes a lot of courage. Because it means that we are accepting that we can’t do it all alone and that it’s okay. As Mrs. Brooks says to McKenna in the American Girl movie, McKenna Shoots For The Stars, “nothing wrong with needing a little help.” Taking that first step to ask, no matter how you have to do it, is a step toward getting to a better place and toward personal growth and self care.
Have you ever been scared to ask for help? How did you ask and how did you feel afterward?