Cup of tea and blanket

Should you?  Really?

“I should be able to do this myself” is what many people think when they are stressed or experiencing difficulty.  What is the ‘this’ in that sentence?

I should be able to cope?

I should be able to find the answer and know what to do?

I should be able to tough it out and not let this bother me? …

Behind those statements is a belief that ‘I should be strong enough’.

Would you drill your own teeth, prescribe your own glasses, take your own blood sample, do your own mammogram, or your own cervical smear or prostate exam?  No, I doubt it.

So, if we seek professional help to manage our physical health, then why do we think we should be able to manage our own mental health without the support of others.  Do we think that struggling with our emotions or our feelings is weak?  Do we think we should have a stiff upper lip, shut the door and turn up the radio so no one hears us crying out?

Do you?

Reaching out for help can be hard

Reaching out for help is possibly the hardest step in getting support and it is precisely due to this belief that it becomes so hard.  Once the barrier of “I should be able to do this myself” is broken, then the process becomes easier. Why? Because when you pick up the phone to seek help you are on your own but from then on you have support.

Sometimes just hearing someone responding with ‘That sounds really tough’ over a cup of tea can make all the difference.  Having our feelings acknowledged is very important.

Someone said to me recently, “I don’t like to bother my friends, after all, they are all struggling with the current situation too.”  Maybe they will break if you add your troubles to their list?

Tea and sympathy

Generally, I find that friends are happy to hear from the people they love and have the opportunity to help.  So many people suffer in silence when a friend would have been more than happy to offer support.  Some actually find that helping someone else helps them, in turn, to deal better with their own situation.  Sometimes just having a cup of tea over a chat can be the very thing – for both of you.

Professional help is what I offer of course, as well as a shoulder to my friends.  Consulting a counsellor or mental health practitioner is very different to talking to a friend.  Practitioners are professional people who are trained to be able to offer objective support and strategies which can help.  It’s a very different dynamic to ‘tea and sympathy’.

If you are struggling and you are thinking ‘I should be able to do this myself’ but know that despite thinking that, you really aren’t ‘doing it’, then I urge you to seek professional support – if that were from me then obviously I would be glad to hear from you – but this is a plea to all of those of you out there who have a ‘should’, who are struggling to find a way through this last year of Lockdown and to move beyond it.

Find your courage to pick up the phone, send an email or leave a message.  Talk to someone.

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