Often people come to see me worried that they are going crazy, or that things are out of control. Despite considerable health promotion efforts, the sense that I get is that there remains a considerable stigma about mental health concerns, particularly for some cultural groups. Often when people walk into the therapy consult, they remain worried that they are going to be judged, minimise their problems and as a result don’t get the help they need. The step that people take to decide to come along is a huge one, and sometimes this gets minimised. You see for psychologists and GPs talking about mood, coping and depression is something that happens every day, so sometimes we forget just how hard it is, if you have never had to talk about it before.
How do you know if it would be helpful to have therapy?
Lots of things happen in our lives that make them difficult. In fact, I am yet to meet anyone who doesn’t have any difficult things happen in their lives. Sometimes we manage them well, particularly if they happen one at a time, and we have lots of space and time to process whatever is going on. But, generally what happens is that things don’t happen to us one at a time. In fact, in my experience there are always lots of dimensions to our stressors, and
sometimes trying to balance these become very difficult.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by what’s happening for you, or you are feeling that your mood is a little flat, if you become anxious or worried about things that you have not been worried about before, if you’re sleeping patterns have changed or you have lost interest in things that normally make you happy these are all things which are suggestive that things are becoming harder to manage. Like most things in life, it becomes easier to engage in help when things are starting to get hard, rather than waiting until you feel completely overwhelmed.
Often therapists are happy to chat with you about what you are concerned about, and whether they think therapy would help before you commit to coming along.
Other than therapy, what can I do?
Some of the things that will make you feel better, are the things that you normally stop doing when you start feeling flat or overwhelmed. One of the best things that you can do is to get your routine back on track, start eating well, and probably most importantly, start doing some exercise. All of these things help manage you mood, bolster your coping strategies and generally help you feel better. In addition to this, the thing to help you manage is to take time for yourself to do something that will make you feel better. It could be easy, it could be a treat or it could just be as simple as taking a nice long shower. But taking that one thing and prioritising it, can make a huge difference to your mood, even if it doesn’t feel like it at first.
However, if things are not feeling any better after you try these things, then you may need additional support. Often talking with your GP in the first instance can give you an idea of what might be helpful. If at any time you feel suicidal or have thoughts about harming yourself, then you need help straight away, and so the best option to the call the community mental health team in your area (easy to find if you google it!) and they can make contact and
engage support very quickly.