“Ask for help. Not because you are weak. But because you want to remain strong.” –Les Brown
It’s OK to Not be OK, But It’s Not OK to Stay That Way
A former sponsor and dear friend told me the above statement about 2 years ago. I was in the middle of a crisis (at least in my mind) and he said “Dan, it’s OK to have bad days” then he followed it up with that statement.
I’m NOT OK right now and I need to tell you that, dear reader.
I’m safe but I’m not OK.
I’ve been off of my medicine for about 10 months now. Back in December 2016, my psychiatrist and I broke up and while I was happy for her to move on to greener pastures, I found this as a more hurtful time than celebratory.
I knew I would miss her.
To be honest, I used this painful moment as an excuse not to go through the difficult process of finding a new doctor and starting over with someone.
I failed myself because of this and I let the lie of “You have this beat” invade my mind and, eventually, work its way into my life.
My work, performance loved ones, mind, and body have suffered.
Maybe, for some people, you can do this without medicine, but one thing I learned while practicing traditional recovery is that we have to be honest with ourselves and if we practice this correctly, we will inevitably be honest with other people.
This is me being honest.
I’m NOT OK but I will not stay that way.
Maybe You’re Not OK, Too
Maybe you feel like:
- The walls are closing in
- The world is against you and everyone is out to get you
- The very thought of showering or bathing seems exhausting
- You could stay in bed for days or even weeks
- You would be better off dead than alive
- You’re losing your mind, going crazy, or losing control
- Your mind is moving so fast that it’s like the Daytona 500 in your head
- You’re possessed or like some kind of evil presence is always with you
- You can never do anything right, are always wrong, and constantly plagued by feelings of guilt
- You’re going to lose your job, your relationship(s), or your family
- Life is too much, overwhelming, and the odds against you seem insurmountable
- People are watching you, talking about you, or making fun of you
- All you can think about is sex, drugs, booze, and the next “fix”. Your appetite for vices is insatiable.
- Nobody loves you and you’ll always feel a loneliness that no person or group could ever take away.
- You feel numb, emotionless, and like nothing can penetrate the wall around your heart.
I’ve felt all of these at some point in my journey with Bipolar Disorder. Some of them, recently.
I know my experience with this disorder is mine and could be very different from yours, but if you are in a place where you need help–you’re not alone.
For some of you (me included), it’s time to get honest with yourself.
Do You Need to Seek Help?
The answer to this question lies within you. Only you know the real answer.
Do you need to seek help?
If so, what does it look like?
Where do you start?
Here are some suggestions of what you can do to seek help and support:
Schedule an Appointment
Schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, or counselor. Just Google any of those titles with your current location and you’ll find a list of available options.
You can also call the office to make sure they accept your insurance or to see what private pay options they offer. Many places will use “sliding-scale fee” if you are uninsured and don’t make much money. It’s a fee based on your income.
Remember, you have a right to services.
Be Honest About Where You are With Your Illness
My mom used to say “I just tell them what they want to hear” and this impeded and even derailed much of her progress for years.
Don’t be like my mom.
Be honest with the people who are trying to help you.
It will only help you.
Make Some Lists
Make a list of your symptoms, triggers, and medications you’ve taken in the past.
(Your pharmacy can provide you with a list, if you’re like me, and have taken several cocktails over the years).
Break the Isolation
Talk with a few trusted people in your life and tell them what’s going on. Make sure these are people who you trust with sensitive information because it really helps break the isolation and makes you feel less alone.
I’ve spoken with a few people from my church for prayer and was even offered a ride to the doctor (I can’t drive). I had to cancel going on a retreat because of severe anxiety and racing thoughts and one guy made sure I knew it was OK. His sensitivity helped me honest about what I was going through.
You never know what supports you may be around you and you don’t realize it.
It’s why it’s good to be honest with a few trusted people.
Be Honest About Your Using (If You Have)
Be honest about your use of any substances (legal or not) in the past or present.
You’re the Expert on Your Life
Remember that the person helping you can only make suggestions.
It’s up to YOU to decide to fill the prescription, take the medicine, participate in the therapy, do the therapy homework, practice the skills, etc.
You always have the final say in your care.
As my grandma used to tell me, “Nobody knows your body better than you.” This includes your mind.
You’re the expert on your own life, but I would also encourage you to be open to counsel.
It is humbling to ask for help but, oftentimes, it’s worth it.
Know Your Rights
Don’t be afraid to ask for another doctor, therapist, etc, if you don’t feel like it’s a good fit.
You can ask for someone else or go somewhere else. It’s your right as a patient to feel heard, accepted, and understood.
Don’t let a doctor, therapist, counselor, etc. force you into taking a medication you don’t want to, take you somewhere in therapy that you don’t feel comfortable with, or talk down to you.
I once had a psychiatrist tell me in the hospital, “You’re a therapist, eh? You guys the worst.”
He was a jerk.
Don’t Talk Yourself Out of Seeking Help
Lastly, don’t talk yourself out of it.
I know. I know. It’s so easy to do but you’ve made the appointment so don’t let your anxiety, fear, feelings, etc. talk you out of getting the help you want, need, and deserve.
You deserve to seek and find the best version of yourself.
You’re not a failure, fuck up, or worthless person.
We all need help from time to time, trust me.
It’s OK to ask for help!
None of us are perfect and you’re making the right choice.
Help is there you just have to ask for it.
I’m rooting for you!
Be well, friends.