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Asking for Help Is a Hard Thing

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I can do hard things!

I can wake up and go to work in the morning – sometimes on time. I can fold six loads of laundry. I can run 10 miles. I can give birth to my children. I can call and make an appointment. I can cope. I can recover. I can ask for help. These are all hard things.

Asking for help is an especially hard thing. Asking for help makes us vulnerable. Yet none of these things I have accomplished in my life – small or large – have I ever done alone.

I can fold six loads of laundry, but I had the help of someone who installed the washing machine for me and balanced it for me. I had the help of my 2-year-old to push the start button on the dryer.

I ran my first 10-miler this fall, but I had the help of a coach and a training plan.

I birthed my children naturally in the birthing tub, but I had the help of two midwives, a doula, a nurse and my husband.

I called and made an appointment. A doctor and/or a therapist can help me learn how to cope, but I implement coping mechanisms.

I asked for help once. And I didn’t get it soon enough. I went into my college’s counseling services center and asked for help. I filled out the paperwork and checked that I was having suicidal thoughts. It got missed. I went back to my dorm that night and attempted suicide. My roommate helped me. I survived, and I am forever grateful.

The thing that’s so hard for me (reminder to self: I can do hard things) – is to keep asking for help. And sometimes, when I ask for help, and I don’t get it right away, it triggers me. Because at one point in my life, it was life-threatening for me. My brain can have a hard time separating out the life-threatening and the non life-threatening sometimes.

Living with a chronic mental illness like anxiety might mean a lifetime of ups and downs. For me, I can cope well for a while, but I can’t always prevent myself from being triggered. I know where some of my triggers come from and can avoid them, but there are some that still surprise me. They catch me completely off guard. And I have to ask for help again.

Sometimes, my husband is busy with school work and can’t help me around the house. Sometimes, Grandma has other plans and can’t help with my kids. Sometimes, my therapist’s schedule is full. Sometimes, it takes the nurse line a long time to call me back. It gives me intense anxiety.

However, I just named multiple support people in my life who help me, and for each and every one of them I am immensely grateful. It’s hard to keep asking for help: I start to feel inadequate or needy… but the nature of a chronic mental illness is that I will always need help. And the truth of the matter is that asking for help makes me strong. And when I ask and accept help, I can accomplish great things. I can run 10 miles, with help. I can get out of bed in the morning, with help. I can cope, and I can thrive, with help.

I can do hard things! Thanks to the love and compassion of those who help me. Thank you for helping me.

I know you, too, can ask for help. You can do hard things!

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

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Photo by Kichigin

Originally published: October 23, 2016
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