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Asking for Help With My Mental Illness Is Even Harder Under COVID-19

These times are tough, to say the least; they are uncertain and they are scary due to coronavirus (COVID-19), the new viral strain in the coronavirus family that affects the lungs and respiratory system. Living with mental illness, years of my life have been tough, uncertain, scary and more, but this pandemic is exacerbating all of that. Most everybody is going through really difficult times right now. There’s no minimizing what we are dealing with. All of us are adjusting to an ever-changing “norm.” We are trying to figure out what we are doing, what we need to do, what’s best to do, safest to do and more.

Knowing that, I’ve struggled to allow myself to seek the support I need. I’ve struggled leaning on people and asking for help. I feel guilty usually asking for help, but even more-so with everything going on. I worry I will overburden people or ask too much or add more to their already full plate. I worry they won’t want to be there or will feel frustrated that I am even asking for help. I even find myself struggling to ask for help when the person has already offered it to me, which means so much to me. I feel all-too-aware that we are all going through this together. That can be really helpful to know at times, really validating, but it can also feel even more isolating, lonelier.

I know I need help and support and people I can depend on during these times. I know that asking for help is the only way I will be able to get through this. Change is really difficult for me. Uncertainty is often unbearable. Lack of control terrifies me. All of these things trigger deep childhood wounds that I am still working through. I feel like the ground is being pulled out from under me multiple times a day — like every time I find myself gaining traction, it is removed and I am stumbling and spiraling through space, trying to grasp on to handholds that aren’t even there. All of this reminds me of times in my past when nothing felt stable, consistent, safe. When there was nothing and nobody to hold onto. When everything was risky. When nobody stayed. I find myself going back to the mindset of needing to deal with everything alone, like I should be able to handle this on my own. I shouldn’t “burden” anybody when they, too, are dealing with this uncertain and scary time. It had gotten to the point where I was even afraid of leaning on my therapist because they are also struggling.

But I’m learning it is OK to ask for help even during this pandemic. Especially during this pandemic. This is the time I need to exercise my voice and ask for what I need. I need to trust that people will tell me if they don’t think they can be there or help me right now. I need to allow myself to not be strong all on my own and to know that strength can lie in asking for help and leaning on people, as hard as that can be. Right now is the time to be there for each other. To show our vulnerabilities, our struggles, the moments when we aren’t so “put-together.” We don’t need to be handling social isolation perfectly; we can be struggling; we can be falling apart, we can be OK one moment and then crying the next; we can be struggling to grasp onto any sense of normalcy, wishing that something, anything, would just remain stable.

I am learning that it is OK to not be OK; it is OK to show that I am not OK, and it is more than OK to ask for help when I need it. That is how we will get through this. And we will get through this; we just may need some help doing so.

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Photo by Diego San on Unsplash