Mental illness is a funny thing. While it can certainly feel all encompassing at times, it is important to remember that an illness (whether it be cancer, depression or a chest infection) is NOT you. Yet sometimes, as mental illness lives in the mind, it can become the driver in your decisions and place road blocks to you recovering. In my experience, my anxiety ridden intrusive thoughts placed major barriers in my way when I really needed to seek help.
Lets challenge some of those fears today…
If I see a therapist, they will change me as a person
I used to believe that a therapist was there to fix a broken personality. This couldn't be further from the truth. A mental health professional is there to listen, and guide your self recovery. At all times you are still you, and you are in control. Which leads me nicely onto my next point…
If I seek help, I will no longer be in control
Many mental illnesses, in particular anxiety issues, are centred around a feeling of control. It may be the case that you feel that if you seek help for your issue, someone else is then in control of your life, or that you somehow will not be in the driver’s seat fully. Again, this is an intrusive thought and most definitely not the case. Treatments such as mindfulness (MBCT) or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) are centred around YOU and what YOU feel is most relevant / helpful / applicable to your situation.
If I get help, I will be told what to do
Think of it like this. When a waiter shows you the menu at a restaurant, they don’t tell you what to eat. The most helpful thing they can do is make recommendations! It's the same with a good quality mental health professional- they are there to coach, direct and guide you to recovery, but ultimately it is your choice what works for you!
If I get help, I might not get on with the therapist
This point is a little more tricky to tackle because unfortunately there is some truth in it. Finding a mental health support is like trying to find the right personal trainer; there are different styles, approaches and personalities. Trust your instinct and speak up if someone or something is not working for you.
The most important thing to remember is that recovery is a journey but it is possible. A mental health professional can be part of the jigsaw of recovery. Don’t let fear stand in the way.