Last week I decided that I should probably go see a therapist. For most of the week and for various reasons I felt as though I was on the verge of a total mental meltdown. It was especially terrible while at work with me nearly going home early because I couldn’t deal with being there. I was antsy, jittery, and my body had sort of a nervous hum to it, like the hum of a fluorescent light bulb if that makes sense. I was shaking and bzzzzzz constantly. Just a total feeling of being on edge and ready to lose it all. My mind was in overdrive thinking (mostly worrying) about a wide range of things where it was impossible to not think about them. I was utterly depressed. I felt lonely. I felt hopeless. I felt like a loser, like everyone probably hated me and only dealt with me to be nice. Despite me knowing that I was overreacting, it’s hard to get yourself to actually internalize it. I knew I was being fearful, scared, and irrational with no way to actually think rationally about things.
It was in this rare mental state that something snapped and I realized something obvious but difficult to admit: I was not happy. Life was not enjoyable. Like at all. Something was not working. I felt on the precipice of something very dark and scary. My drinking had picked up again. I was anxious and terrified of everything. Day after day was a struggle against the dread of existing. And that probably isn’t how a person is supposed to feel. Certainly isn’t how a person is supposed to feel. I admitted to myself that I needed to go see someone about my mental state.
So how did that go? Well, I don’t know. I still haven’t went because getting help fucking sucks.
You’d think the main difficulty in actually getting help is admitting that you need or want help, but this is only the initial part of the challenge. Once you finally admit that you need help, you actually need to find someone. And holy hell is that another shitty adventure all on its own.
The fact is that mental health issues are still stigmatized in the United States (maybe the world, I don’t know) and it’s very difficult to find someone you can open up to between family and friends. After you admit you want to find help, it greatly helps if you have a support system who can support your choice to find someone. I think I’m pretty lucky in regards to having friends and family to talk to, but other people? It’s terrifying to put myself in someone else’s place who has no support. If a person like that did admit they needed help, there isn’t anyone to support them along the way. Finding help is solely on them, and that is terrifying. Everyone needs a support system.
So knowing that you want help, now what? You find someone to go see. How do you do that? Once again it’s up to you to do most of the work. There are no mental health “general practitioners” to go see, no one to recommend you to someone, you have to find them your own. And mental health is different from general health. If you have a physical problem any doctor should be able to help, or at least point you in the right direction to someone who can help, but with mental health? It seems there needs to be a good relationship between therapist and patient and sometimes people just do not bond or feel comfortable with others, even if there is no outward reason to feel so. I guess I’m trying to say finding someone for mental health issues isn’t as easy as going to your insurances’ provider finder, typing in your address, and going to the first place you find. You need to do research and research is not something the depressive person is actually up to doing.
One of my friends directed me to psychologytoday.com. You can search for therapists/counselors/psychologists/psychiatrists in your area. (What are the differences? More on that shortly) This helped a ton as you can still search by insurance providers and you can read their profiles/treatment techniques/see what their specialized in, but there were still too many to choose from! I didn’t want to start limiting my choices based on stupid shit like how friendly they look or if they’re young or old. It seems like I could miss a good person to go see by using such pointless criteria. And once again a person in this mindset probably isn’t the best at taking the initiative or being motivated to continue the search.
And there’s always the question about who exactly I should go see. Therapists and counselors are kinda the same thing (I think. But one has more schooling? I don’t know.) while psychologists have more schooling or something. I think the psychologists are meant for people who have more clinical disorders who might need specific treatments. And psychiatrists? Apparently they can prescribe medicine. (Also, let’s not forget the fact that psychologists and psychiatrists are both spelled similarly and are equally difficult to type. The psych- is so fucking clunky to type out, try it for yourself. Every time I write one of those I get a big, squiggly red line under it.) I don’t really know and if anyone wants to clear these distinctions up feel free to correct me in the comments. I don’t know if my case is serious enough to require a psychiatrist or if I just need someone to talk to, like a therapist. Being depressed means you don’t fucking know. So if I don’t know, how am I going to know who to see? I’m just trying to stress again that a person in a depressed state probably doesn’t want to research the intricacies and differences between certain mental health professional’s titles, schooling, and specialties. It’s daunting at a time you don’t want to face anything daunting.
I think that’s about it (so far). I feel that admitting you have a mental health problem should be the primary key to finding assistance. It should be your ticket to freedom, sort of like a call to 911 in a medical emergency is enough to get help. The emergency room doesn’t require you to select a pulmonologist or a cardiologist because they figure out what is wrong with you and find a person to treat you. With mental health? Nope. It’s up to you to find someone even though you’re as confused as you could ever be. You need to go through a mostly bullshit, confusing, and complex process mostly by yourself to actually find someone to see. It’s a pain in the ass even if you weren’t in a shitty mental state, and being in one only makes things harder.
We have a ton of work to do in the US and probably the world at large in regards to mental health. I’m almost certain that a massive amount of people quietly go about their lives abusing drugs or whatever or hiding behind hobbies, entertainment, and other things to keep busy so they don’t break down. Putting on a mask and struggling in silence. Like everyone is dealing with something and even if some look like they’re fine many might be close to their breaking points without showing any outward signs of it. There is no clear way to get help, no clear way to talk about how you feel or to be open about it, and maybe people turn to suicide as a way to ask for help because mental health is so stigmatized. If you do admit to get help, good job on you. Congratulations, it’s probably the hardest thing to admit! Hang in there. But it’s still going to be a pain in the ass finding someone to go see.