Rocks balancing

Getting Help When You Need It

Therapy Thursday
Therapists are a wealth of knowledge and tips on how to manage mental health challenges. We asked a few great practitioners in our community about mental health challenges, strategies and resources. Read what they had to say...
What are signs that I might benefit from therapy or other professional help?
From Mary Garwood Yancy

Our lives are dynamic, and one thing we can all count on is change. Unfolding life chapters present new opportunities and challenges, and different physical, cognitive and emotional states. So, when do you know it’s time to seek help? While not an exhaustive list, these are examples that might prove helpful:

  • You are unsafe, and fear for your own or another’s emotional or physical safety.
  • You’ve suffered a difficult life event — a loss, a transition, a trauma or health scare - and feel stuck or unsupported, unable to move forward.
  • For some time now, you’ve felt out-of-sorts, “not yourself.” Certain emotions or behaviors seem to derail you, and your relationships have suffered.
  • You are experiencing elevated existential or generalized “dis-ease”, a marked increase in sadness or anxiety (reported by many at this time). Some describe difficulties processing the “collective grief” brought on by Covid-19, accepting and adjusting to a new normal.
  • Certain problem behavior patterns (e.g. related to issues such as trust, anger, dependency, perfectionism, defensiveness) regularly disrupt your daily life and relationships.
  • You are misusing substances to a degree that negatively impacts your health, relationships, work and/or daily functioning.
  • You recognize the need for a “tune-up”, noting that your usual coping strategies aren’t doing the trick and you’re becoming increasingly overwhelmed.

Talk therapy is a way to carve out uninterrupted time to process present and past events. With the therapist as a collaborative guide of sorts, you can journey inward, develop effective coping and problem-solving strategies, and greater capacity for self-awareness and compassion. Many of us find ourselves challenged as never before — no better time to start or reboot your psychological wellness program!

It’s often a challenge for a man to be able to identify when it’s time to seek professional help. A simple answer is:  if the issue he is experiencing is decreasing his overall quality of life or is preventing him from living the life he has envisioned, it’s time to seek help.

Men new to therapy report having failed at their own solutions, a lack of support, over-dependence on others, abusing things to alleviate symptoms, excessive worry or overthinking, and feelings of disconnect or discontent as the catalyst for reaching out.

Often these men find regulating their emotions to be difficult. They identify feeling overwhelmed, a lack of motivation, sadness, withdrawal, irritation, anger, resentment, hopelessness, guilt, shame, and overreacting as daily companions. They often report feeling trapped, have the sensation of always “walking on egg-shells”, have difficulty expressing themselves, and find themselves participating in arguments.

These symptoms can evolve into physical symptoms such as poor sleep, muscular tension, fatigue, and a host of other ailments. They also reveal themselves as substance abuse, irresponsible financial decisions, excessive risk-taking, and simply put, bad choices.

Don’t let things escalate to this level of destruction. Take care of issues when they are minor, so they don’t negatively impact your life and those around you. Asking for help isn’t always easy, but it’s often much easier than you think. You don’t have to go through this alone.

From Kathryn Gates, Gates Therapy

This can be a tough call to make. Especially if you are used to being able to manage things on your own.

Some people don’t start searching for a therapist until their friends or family have suggested to them that they really should “go talk to someone.” But it is possible to get help before your friends get tired of hearing you complain about the same thing over and over again!

Here are a few things that could indicate that you will benefit from professional help:

  • -Keeping your commitments and responsibilities has become very difficult
    →being late, not keeping your word, tasks at work or at home are unmanageable, or feel that way
  • You feel like everyone else is having an easier time with life than you
    →subjectively, life is more difficult for you than for others
  • More of your thoughts are about yourself than about other people or things
    →whether the thoughts are derogatory or not
  • You regret your actions more than occasionally
    →this may feel like your behaviors are out of control, or you may feel guilt and regret more often than you’d like after over-analyzing situations
  • More than one person in your life has suggested it to you

You can learn more about finding a mental health professional in this guide from NAMI.