The Long First Step: Asking For Help
You knew something was wrong.
Maybe you were self aware. You recognized you weren’t enjoying anything any more. Your energy was at low ebb. You had become an angry person.
You blame your family. Their expectations of you are too high. They have drained your energy. All you are is a paycheck. They become the focus of your anger. You distance yourself physically and emotionally. There are fights and arguments.
Gradually it dawns on you they are not the problem. You are suffering. Is it depression? Burnout? Mid-life crisis?
On the other hand your friends and family may be the ones to point out that you are always angry. You don’t participate in activities any more. You stare off into space and when asked what you are thinking about you say, “Nothing” and it is the truth.
They point out that you have changed, and not for the better. In a moment of clarity you admit they are right.
They say, “Snap out of it.” They don’t know how hard you have been trying
But you are the one in charge. You take care of others. You are in control and so you tackle this problem head on.
You researched books on depression and burnout. You sought answers in podcasts. Though you do not have interest you throw yourself back into the things you once in enjoyed.
“If only you are thankful you will pull out of it.” So you made a list of your blessings. “Think good thoughts.” You tried but negative thoughts revolved around your head. You swatted them like flies but they never really go away.
“Throw yourself into your work and you will be better in no time.” So you spend more hours at work but your productivity fell off. You worry you might be fired.
Someone says, “Perhaps you are depressed.” You fight those words. Depression is for the weak. You are strong. Everyone counts on you. You have never let anyone down. You’ve got this.
You run. You meditate. You find a different job.
But you continue to suffer. Your marriage is strained. Work is more difficult than ever before. Friends are gone. You don’t know how long you can hold it together.
And then you take the first step. It has been long in coming. You ask for help.
Getting better on your own may work. But it is likely it won’t. You need help and it is the hardest thing you have ever done. Asking for help makes you feel like a failure. You feel useless. You feel helpless.
But in time you will learn these are the lies of depression. Depression is like a shroud that has covered your eyes keeping you from seeing things as they are.
You are never stronger than when you ask for help. Depression is an illness and we need compassionate helpers who can help us on a healing journey.
Where to begin? A good beginning is with your physician for a diagnosis. There are screening tests for depression and your doctor will know the symptoms for diagnosing depression.
If your physician is not comfortable treating you he can give you references to other physicians more knowledgeable about the subject. He may refer you to a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist is a physician that treats mental health issues.
Find a therapist or a counselor who is well trained in depression. A therapist can help you learn coping and managing skills.
But asking for help means you will be honest and real. Hiding information or memories because you are embarrassed will keep your helpers from doing their job. Their job? To help you get better.
It is a paradox that strength comes when we are ready to admit that we are unable to do save things alone. It does not make us weak it makes us smart.
In the beatitudes Jesus taught the very first spiritual principle: Blessed are those who are poor in spirit, those who are humble, those who acknowledge their need. “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of God. “
Take that first long step.