One of the most effective ways to cope with mental illness is to create a system of supportive people around you. Unfortunately, coming to people and asking for that help is one of the hardest things to do when you’re depressed. And that’s something that mentally healthy people might not understand. Why not just be honest with your friends? Can’t you just tell your family what’s going on? But it’s not that simple, so I’m going to try and explain why.
You don’t know exactly what you’re asking for
Usually when you’re asking for help with something, you know exactly what you’re asking for. Can you help me move this weekend? Hey pass me the salt. Could you scratch my back? I can’t reach. But when you’re asking for help with a mental illness, it can be vague at best. You know that they can’t cure your illness or anything, the best they can do is help you cope, but what does that look like? Do you want them to keep you accountable with positive behaviors or discourage negative ones? How honest should you be with them without freaking them out with your disordered thinking? Often it just feels much like the illness does: unexplainable to someone not experiencing it.
You feel like you don’t deserve the effort
Depression kills your self worth. You don’t feel deserving of anything. And the last thing you want to do is be even more of a burden onto the people you love. You don’t want to inconvenience anyone, make them depressed by association, or have them feel like a bad friend if you don’t recovery quickly. It’s just not worth bothering them about. Even though realistically, if they really care about you, then it’s not going to be a bother. They probably want to help you, but from your perspective, it’s just another chore for them.
The stigma is still strong
Even though we’ve made some progress toward a world where mental illness isn’t a shameful condition, we aren’t quite there. There are still so many people who think that depression isn’t real, or just in your mind. Advice to simply start doing yoga, drink more green smoothies, or go outside more is still given abundantly and uninvited. And few things are as harmful to an already damaged mentality than being brushed off or treated like you’re irrational. I am always scared to mention that I struggle with anxiety and depression because so many people equate that with being weak or lazy. I may need some help, but I’m by no means helpless.
Honestly? Recovery is scary
This reason is probably the hardest to understand from an outside perspective and not interpret it incorrectly. Sometimes, the idea of being not depressed is scarier than being depressed. I don’t mean that it’s a good excuse or that it’s easy to be depressed. Firstly, all change is a bit scary. It may be horrible to live with a mental illness, but it’s probably all you know. It’s comfortable, in a way. It’s almost like you’re in an abusive relationship with your own brain. You hate how it makes you feel, you are completely out of control of your life, but you stay. Recovery is hard work. It’s changing the way you think, it’s getting out of your comfort zone, and it’s fighting when you feel like you can’t even move. Asking for help means having to change everything about yourself and your life. It’s scary, and takes a lot of mental strength to choose that path.
There are a million other reasons one could be afraid to come forward and ask for help. Simple pride, compromising personal safety, paranoia, the list goes on. These reasons are just what I find are my biggest roadblocks to opening up to people about my struggles. I hope that this article can help you understand a bit more why the people you care about seem to not trust you or want to share their life with you. It’s more complicated than that, so please, try and be patient.