Why I Found It So Hard to Ask for Help for My Mental Illness

As far back as I can remember, I see symptoms of mental illness.

I have had varying diagnosis from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), to borderline personality disorder (BPD) and more. The diagnoses are not as important to me now as they used to be. I don’t define myself by them anymore. Asking for help when I need it, regardless of the symptoms I’m facing at the time, is what I focus on today.

Asking for help has always been difficult for me, starting from a young age. I grew up in a great home. I have loving parents and an amazing sister. I had every opportunity and was given anything I could ever want. So why was I depressed? I did not understand that there didn’t need to be a triggering event or a traumatic history in order to have a mental illness. I didn’t understand that it could happen to anyone, even me. I didn’t ask for help because I couldn’t face the “cheer up, your life is perfect” comments that would come from my peers and family. Instead, I struggled through school, engaging in extremely self-destructive behaviors with only a select few friends having an idea of what was going on.

Although I was struggling on the inside, I tried not to let it affect my outward appearance. I went off to college, as I had always planned, to become a social worker. These were some of the best and worst years of my life. I got good grades and made amazing friends but I was struggling silently. I continued having the attitude that I needed to deal with my issues on my own, and that asking for help would show weakness. After graduating it became even harder as I began working at mental health agencies and having clients with significant trauma history. I compared my life to theirs and convinced myself that my problems were not worth talking about. I turned to self-harm behaviors and self-medicating in order to get through day-to-day life. This led me down a long road of what I can only describe as emotional turmoil. Eventually, it had to come crashing down.

The first time I really asked for help, I was terrified. I didn’t want to deal with the stigma around mental illness. I didn’t want to deal with the judgment I’d face as an addict. I didn’t want to let my family and friends down. Facing my fears and engaging in treatment was the best thing I ever could have done for myself. I realized my brain doesn’t produce enough of the “happy” chemicals. I realized I have a hard time regulating my emotions and that those emotions can lead to rapid mood swings. I realized all of this is OK. I realized there are healthier ways to cope and that, with help from others, I could get better.

Asking for help is never an easy task, but today it is doable. Although I will most likely deal with mental illness for the rest of my life, I can see a brighter future for myself than I ever could before. A few years ago, I never thought I could experience happiness. With the way my life was going, I never thought I’d live past 25 years old. I can only imagine what my life would have been like if I got help sooner. Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of; neither is asking for help.

If you or a loved one is affected by addiction and need help, you can call SAMHSA’s hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Marisa9

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Borderline Personality Disorder

A couple about to kiss.

To People With Borderline Personality Disorder Who Assume They'll Never Find Love

Doing the bare essentials when struggling with a condition isn’t easy. Don’t even get me started on how daunting the search for a safe, secure, fulfilling and happy relationship is! Being a borderline personality disorder (BPD) challenger makes it just a tiny bit more difficult, and we all know this. Yet is it the end-all, be-all [...]
Pretty young student sitting at desk and doing her homework, she is connecting to the internet with a laptop

When I Realized Not Focusing on My Mental Health Was Jeopardizing the Things Most Important to Me

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental disorder that affects the daily lives of those struggling with it. Between the inability to regulate emotions and the suicidal ideations, BPD can be debilitating. It often requires long-term treatment, time and energy to manage. Unfortunately, there isn’t much time nor energy to work on managing my [...]
Sad man under umbrella, raining inside, vector cartoon, no transparencies

When You Start to Feel the Black Cloud of BPD Coming

It’s setting in — that big black cloud is slowly moving from the horizon towards the shore. I have had some of the best days I have had in years in this sun, only to get comfortable and almost complacent in my happiness, not expecting the weather to change. That’s what it is. That is [...]
Vector illustration of a psychological theme. The sad girl with seashell. Introvert

3 Ways My Fear of Abandonment Shapes My Interactions With Others

There are many symptoms of borderline personality disorder, but for me, the most prevalent one is the fear of abandonment. This fear shapes and defines my interactions with people, and it is only through a combination of medication and therapy that I have gotten better at healthy coping skills to deal with this intense fear [...]