It’s Okay to Seek Professional Help

For the last post of Mental Health Awareness Month I want to address seeking professional help. People have become much more open to the concept of therapy and there has been a lot of improvement on breaking the stigma around it. In this blog I will cover some common questions that people have about therapy, why therapy might be beneficial for you, and why getting help can be a good idea.

Seeking professional help can give you coping tools and strategies you may be lacking. You’ll be able to understand your situations and figure out how to better navigate these situations with more understanding and more awareness. This progress more than likely will not be an overnight thing after your first session. It can take time. Something I like to remind people is that they are not going to therapy to “fix themselves” because they are not broken. They simply need tools to better navigate their life and continue to improve themselves.

Some common questions about therapy:

Why is getting help important?

By not seeking mental help, you open yourself up to the possibility of letting serious mental health conditions become worse. Going untreated could disrupt your relationships, performance at school or work, and even increase your risk for substance abuse or addiction.

Do they make you lay down on a couch?

Some offices do have a couch but they do not make you lay down like you see in the movies. They let you sit how you are most comfortable.

What do they say?

Most commonly they will open the floor to you and let you bring up what you are comfortable talking about. They may ask some probing questions to find out more but typically you are in control of what topics you want to discuss.

Will it only be about my childhood?

The short answer is no. You may cover some areas from your childhood but you can talk about any timeframe. I know people that use therapy to heal their inner child, people who use therapy to work on current issues they are having, and everything in between.

How long will I have to be in therapy?

You can be in therapy for as long as you see necessary. If you go to a few sessions and decide it is not for you, then you can conclude your sessions. If you find it helpful, you can continue going.

If you are considering getting help, speak with your doctor and your insurance company to see which places may best fit your coverage.

Types of Mental Health Disorders

Part of mental health awareness month is educating and creating awareness of the types of mental health issues someone may experience. There are 7 main types of mental health disorders- listed and described below.

  • Depression
    • Symptoms may include: not caring about things you used to, feeling sad, down or hopeless most days, weight gain or loss, sleeping too much or not enough, fatigue, feeling guilty or worthless, poor memory, confusion, restlessness, thoughts of death or suicide
  • Anxiety disorders
    • Symptoms may include: feeling worried, fear, being and feeling on edge, tired, muscle tension, stomach aches, headaches, chest tightness, feeling embarrassed, sweating, shaking, rapid heartbeat, 
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
    • Symptoms may include: repetitive thoughts, visuals, urges, repetitive behaviors, mental acts, obsessions and compulsions that are excessive
  • Bipolar disorder
    • Symptoms may include: depression, mania, feeling emotions abnormally and persistently, feelings of superiority, restlessness, excessive thoughts and talking, racing thoughts, short attention span, argumentative 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (OCD)
    • Symptoms may include: feeling numb, being overwhelmed, avoiding certain people or places, reliving the trauma through memories, nightmares, or flashbacks, intense feelings, insomnia 
  • Schizophrenia
    • Symptoms may include: hallucinations, delusions, unclear thoughts, not difficulty communicating, lack of emotion, poor hygiene, lack of interest in activities and people, sitting still, learning and memory issues, anxiety, depression 
  • Personality disorders
    • Symptoms may include: mood swings, irritability, emotional outbursts, social anxiety, wanting attention, lack of emotional control, impulsive, externalizing problems

Symptoms of mental disorders vary depending on the disorder. If you believe you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it may be beneficial to speak to your doctor. 

If you or someone you know are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention 1-800-273-8255 or visit 

Things You Should Know About Anxiety

As someone who has anxiety, there are things I want my friends and family to know about it. If you don’t have anxiety, it can be hard to understand it sometimes. Here are some things you should know, coming from someone who has it:

If I don’t feel better when you try to help, it’s not your fault.

You may not always be able to understand why I am anxious but it doesn’t make it any less real for me.

I may not have a specific thing I am anxious about.

Sometimes I just want you to be there for me and listen to me, you don’t always have to try to give me answers. I don’t expect you to have all the answers.

It can feel embarrassing at times even though I know I can’t help it.

Sometimes I feel like I’m annoying- reassurance can go a long way.

I fidget when I feel anxious.

If I begin to have an anxiety attack, ask me questions about my surroundings. Making me use my senses and talk about my surroundings can distract me from my anxiety. 

I hope you see more than my anxiety.

Treating Yourself Like You’re Sick When Your Mental Health is Slipping

I heard this advice a while back and thought it would be beneficial to share- especially during mental health awareness month. That advice was; if you start to feel your mental health getting bad again and if it is starting to affect your physical health too, then treat yourself as if you had the flu. Take a day to yourself and focus on your mental and physical health. Rest. Drink fluids. Catch up on sleep. Watch movies or get caught up on your tv shows. Your health is a priority- whether its mental health, physical health, or both. Your job will not be ruined by missing a day. The world will keep turning. Everything will be okay. 

You should allow yourself to rest and prioritize your health without feeling guilty about it. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Your overall well being is what is important. Taking care of yourself should not be considered a luxury, it is essential and should be treated as such. It’s important to continue the conversation of mental health and the stigmas that surround it.

Reminders For When You Are Struggling

It’s okay to have days where the only thing you do is survive

You are not alone

Your mental health matters more than other people’s feelings

You are not broken or damaged

Don’t stress over what you can’t control

Allow yourself to feel through your emotions

It’s okay to ask for help- you have people that love you that will help

You deserve to take care of yourself

Overthinking will not help you or the situation

You matter- even if you don’t feel like it today

You are strong enough to face this

Stop comparing yourself to others

Your struggle is not your identity

You cannot heal in the same environment you got hurt in

Things will get better

Some Helpful Words for When Someone is Feeling Anxious

Here are some things you can say to someone who is anxious that may help:

  • “I love you.”
  • “I’m not going anywhere.”
  • “If you feel comfortable and want to talk to me, I’m here for you.”
  • “I am here for you no matter what.”
  • “Do you want me to help you find a solution or would you like to vent?”
  • “I’m not upset with you, I promise.”
  • “You are not alone.”
  • “Let’s talk through this.”
  • “We can figure this out together.”
  • “It’s okay.”
  • “Your feelings are valid.”
  • “Take your time.”
  • “I know it’s hard to stay strong at a time like this but I’m here for you.”
  • “I was thinking about you today, I hope you are doing well.”
  • “It’s okay if you’re not okay.”
  • “If you would like company I am free, otherwise I can call you.”
  • “Call me or text me anytime you need me.”
  • “You are important to me.”
  • “You are not your failures.”
  • “You are not a burden or a disappointment.”
  • “I’m proud of you.”
  • “I will come with you to ___ if you do not feel comfortable going alone.”
  • “I know you are struggling, I won’t always know what to do or say but I will always do what I can to help.”
  • “Be proud of yourself and your accomplishments- even the small ones.”

Things You Can Say to a Depressed Friend or Family Member

Sometimes, when someone we love has depression, we don’t always know what to say. It is important to acknowledge them while being respectful of their feelings. Of course, your situation may vary depending on your relationship with them but here are some examples of things you can say to someone who is experiencing depression:

  • “I just wanted to let you know that I understand keeping in contact may be difficult right now, and you are still a valuable friend to me and I will support you through this.”
  • “I can’t imagine what you are going through but know that I am here for you.”
  • “If you need anything, let me know. I will continue to be here for you through all of this.”
  • “I want you to know and understand that you are not a burden. I care for you and if you ever need to talk, please don’t hesitate to reach out.”
  • “I was thinking about you today and I wanted to remind you how much you mean to me.”

Things that will not be helpful to say to them:

  • “Have you tried going outside?”
  • “Have you exercised?”
  • “Well what are you eating?”
  • “Try getting some fresh air.”
  • “Others have it so much worse.”
  • “You should just be happy.”

These are not helpful to say to someone that is depressed. Depression can make it hard for someone to do even simple tasks. What they need is your sympathy and your support.

Things You May be Doing Because of Your Anxiety and Depression

With May being mental health awareness month, it is important to not only recognize these things in others but also yourself. You may be struggling in general and not know that you are really struggling with your mental health. Here is a list of common anxiety and depression symptoms:

  • Zoning out
  • Dissociating
  • Seeking reassurance
  • Over apologizing
  • Over analyzing
  • Picking at your skin
  • Biting your nails and lips
  • Fidgeting
  • Staying up late
  • Obsessing over the worst case scenarios
  • Questioning your own actions
  • Questioning what you have said to others
  • Ignoring notifications
  • Looking at every notification to clear it right away
  • Rehearsing “scripts” in your head for scenarios
  • Canceling plans
  • Clenching your jaw
  • Shaking
  • Tapping your fingers, feet, or legs
  • Irritability
  • Hyperventilating
  • Magnifying your mistakes
  • Comparing yourself and your life to others
  • Overthinking
  • Distracting yourself by being on your phone
  • Delaying simple tasks or chores for days or weeks at a time
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Withdrawing yourself from hobbies
  • Letting the small things affect you
  • Avoiding talking or thinking about the future
  • Avoiding being alone with your thoughts
  • Reengaging with something that once brought you comfort (such as a familiar tv show)
  • Struggling with falling asleep
  • Having a hard time getting out of bed
  • Feeling tired all the time

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms regularly, you may be experiencing anxiety or depression. It may benefit you to speak with your doctor and see what you can do from there. If you notice someone else experiencing these symptoms, it may be a good idea to reach out to them and see if there is anything you can do to help. Remember, not all people have the same symptoms or carry them the same. This is your friendly reminder to be kind to everyone. 

Mental Health Awareness Month- High Functioning Anxiety

When someone has high functioning anxiety, it is often difficult to tell. Similar to my blog post about high functioning depression, I will explain the difference between what you may say vs. what can really be happening.

Some common symptoms can be:

  • Overthinking
  • Overanalyzing
  • Fear of failure
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • The need to please others
  • Dwells on past mistakes
  • Worries about future mistakes
  • Difficulty expressing emotions
  • Physical habits such as nail biting, playing with their hair, shaking, leg shaking, etc.

Seeing these symptoms in someone who has high functioning anxiety can be very difficult. Here are some comparisons on what you might be seeing vs. what can actually be going on:

Mental Health Awareness Month- High Functioning Depression

When someone has high functioning depression, it is often hard to see it. That is why they call it high functioning. Someone can have all of the things that come with depression but you might not even see it.

Some common symptoms can include:

  • Decreased appetite or overeating
  • Insomnia or oversleeping
  • Lack of energy/fatigue
  • Lowered self-esteem
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Feeling sad and hopeless
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Feeling unworthy of good things happening
  • Change in mood
  • Smaller tasks seem harder to do

Seeing these symptoms in someone who has high functioning depression can be very difficult. Here are some comparisons on what you might be seeing vs what is actually going on: