12 Things a Psychologist Wants You to Know About Mental Health
As well as living with rheumatoid arthritis, I also work as a psychologist. Over the last couple of years I’ve started writing down ideas and lessons I’ve learned from my experiences. Here are some things I wish more people understood:
1. Everyone is on some sort of spectrum. Think you’re not on a spectrum? You’re high on the spectrum of people who don’t think they’re on a spectrum. The world would be a happier place if we all accepted our own and each other’s uniquenesses.
2. There is no such thing as failure. Everyone I’ve ever worked with who told me they’d failed in some way had also gained — whether it be wisdom, perspective, insight or enough common sense not to do it again. If that isn’t success, then I don’t know what is.
3. If you wouldn’t look at a broken arm and think, “I know it’s bad but I’ll just leave it a few months and see if it gets better on its own,” then please don’t do this with your mental health. Much like a broken arm, broken heads heal better when they’re treated quickly.
4. Psychologists are not inherently evil. It still blows my mind when someone who needs help declines it because they “don’t want to make things worse.” I don’t want to make it worse for you either. I want to make it better. I went to school for eight years because I want to help people.
5. Emotions are normal. They are part of being human. If you pretend you don’t have emotions, you’re doing it wrong.
6. What you say and do will impact other people. Make the right choice. And if you don’t, at least own your actions and apologize to the person you’ve hurt. You could make a difference in someone’s life.
7. The most psychologically healthy people I’ve ever worked with were those who took responsibility for themselves and their lives, but didn’t take on the responsibilities of the whole world.
8. Being imperfect is a good thing. Imperfection allows for growth, discovery, creativity and the possibility of a better tomorrow. Perfectionism mostly just allows for the growth of stomach ulcers.
9. There is no such thing as being “too late” to seek help. I once worked with a 92-year-old woman who had a 76-year history of panic attacks. It took just three sessions to completely alleviate her panic attacks and anxiety. If I had $10 for every time someone told me they wished they had sought help sooner, I’d be retiring several years earlier.
10. The best natural anti-depressant I’ve ever come across is a sense of humor. Having a sense of humor about yourself is even better.
11. If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, please don’t say it to yourself. Be kind to yourself— it costs you nothing and will save you from paying for a lot of therapy sessions later.
12. The world is full of jerks. You will encounter these people from time to time. Don’t take it personally. One of the best ways to contribute to humanity is to not be one of them.