In recent times, more people are opening up about their mental struggles – to friends or family or a trusted few. Yet even now there is a massive resistance towards seeking professional help for the same. People cringe, fearing social stigma. But most fear facing their deepest inner wounds too and scoot at the mention of Psychotherapy. They’ll gorge self-help books, over-the-counter anti-depressants and anxiolytics, drown themselves in working hard (read workaholism), partying harder, drinking to oblivion each night or putting tremendous pressure on close relationships for some relief yet most are just not open to seek a professional’s help.
Signs You Need Help
Everyone occasionally goes through mild bouts of depression, anxiety or stress. As long as these aren’t interfering in one’s day to day affairs, professional intervention isn’t a must. But if symptoms persist or bouts frequently resurface then it is wise to consult a professional expert. Besides these clinical telltale signs there are some more that urges for professional intervention –
When you Feel Too Intensely
Some amongst us feel more deeply, react more passionately. But the intensity am talking about is one that becomes too intense for peaceful and functional day to day responsibilities and relationships. It may not feel ‘catastrophic’ yet but there are signs. A bad day at work leaving you overwhelmed for days. Your spouse often coming home late leaving you terribly disgruntled and empty inside. Your child gives a poor performance and suddenly your temper flies overtly or you feel worthless as a parent. A passing remark ruins your mood for hours. A social rejection makes you terribly anxious and bitter. These may be usual and accepted phenomenon in society but we need to realise that often what’s socially much normal and approved are severely out of place and dysfunctional and will soon fester into unmanageable issues.
When you Feel Almost Nothing
Many people in today’s complex environment of stress choose to, over time, become detached or non-reactive. While that might be a legitimate coping skill up to an extent, a clear sign that all is not well inside us is when one stops ‘feeling’ almost at all. A downward spiralling career and/or a close relationship, constant financial or relational crises, struggles and despair – suddenly nothing moves you to tears or motivation to fight or flight. Such people often take to alcoholism or even a stoic workaholism to carry on in limbo in severe numbness. Danger being, too often this numbness finally implodes up to a fatal accident. If you or your close ones are hitting a numb zone, therapy support better be sought at the earliest.
When you Relationships are Troubled Waters
Be it parent-child or spouses or close friends and even professional contacts, if disagreements and constant disappointments are escalating, then it’s important to go talk to a professional. Because close interpersonal relationships require the real us, when one or more of them are deteriorating, not only it’s emotionally stressful but also a strong hint that the ‘real’ us isn’t at ease, foremost with ourselves. Believe it or not, our relationships are merely mirrors to our Inner state. Constantly complicated, toxic or difficult relationships clearly suggest that a lot is going on inside our own Mind than what meets the eye. People tend to overlook this vital sign and carry on as if nothing’s wrong until it all explodes. If your life’s been one of rocky relationships consider seeking professional’s guidance.
When the Past Lingers
My friend Rohini (name changed) often complained of serious sickness bouts. Pathological investigations gave her a clean chit, unable to diagnose her. Because we were quite close, I already knew from her that she’s struggling with a lot of bitterness due to her past. Every time I saw her, she was constantly nit-picking on people at home and yelling at maids even from her sickbed, apparently only as a perfectionist home manager, but it wasn’t that simple.
We all have past baggage. Some manage to move beyond the past in true sense while most dealt with it by repression and denial. But repression has a funny side – like nausea – the more you try repressing a belch, the more you’re sure to throw up. Throwing up, and in this case, getting the past toxicity out of our Mind is the only solution. If you’re having difficulty dealing with your past, signs being difficulty in forgiving people or constantly referring to a difficult past, or getting frequent nightmares and/or painful deja vu bouts, then get a professional psychotherapist’s help in releasing your past. People often spend their lives nursing grudges and saying, “Am fine!” but it’s scientifically proven that some of the fatal physical ailments are direct results of bitterness and unforgiveness. You may feel mentally unharmed while your physical health further deteriorates with time.
To Rohini , I had gently suggested seeing a psychotherapist. She even visited one. Next week when I called to check on her, she refused to continue with therapy, saying, “I am not mad. I know myself. What can a therapist tell me that I don’t know already?” (High probability that the professional expert Had told her something she didn’t know about herself or didn’t want to know. Hence the resistance.)
When You Know You’re Pretending
Rohini was plain presumptuous that we understand our own Minds completely. But there are others who Know things aren’t fine inside, yet go on pretending all’s well, out of fear or shame. They fake a smile, fake optimism, fake relationships and performances while simmering in endless agony inside. Maya (name changed) was a successful entrepreneur and mother of two. Apparently extroverted, she made endless public appearances with a dazzling smile, partying till wee hours, happily getting drunk, then joking about her drunk dramas. Because I knew her closely I knew deep inside she was breaking up, going numb. Yet every time I spoke to her about it, it ended in denial and trivialising with “Let’s not talk about such serious stuff! Chill!” Sadly, it was only a matter of time before this externally bandaging internal wounds would become unmanageable and the damages far reaching.
What are we afraid of? Is our fear bigger than our need for inner peace? Turning away from most obvious dysfunctionalities in denial and pretending you don’t need help isn’t a sign of strength but weakness. Rather, honestly staring at one’s own mental struggles takes courage. Your mental struggles cannot be shamefully unique. And shame only brings more silent suffering. If you’re struggling with your Mind, why not seek professional support? As I say, if dental care clinic is OK, why not mental care clinic?
Take care, dear Mind.
© & Author : Nivedita Dey, 2016
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