It’s the end of October which means it’s time for this month’s mental health check. This month we’re going to discuss “When the helper needs help”. We thought this would be an important topic to talk about this month because I think a lot of us have either struggled with this, or currently are struggling with this. With so many things going on around us, it’s sometimes difficult to ask for help when we feel like we need to be there for others in trying times. But, putting your needs out front and asking for help when you need it is super important. So, let’s talk about it
IT CAN BE AWKWARD TO ADMIT AND ASK FOR HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT
- I put this as our first topic for a couple of reasons.
- It can be difficult to ask for help when you need it. We’ve all done this or dealt with this to a certain degree. And it can be rough! Just know that you’re not alone. Also know that asking for help when you need it is self care.
- Being WILLING to ask for help is key. As we know, we’ve been living in a pandemic for nearly two years. Now, I think, more than ever it’s so important to ask for help if and when you’re struggling. That comes in different forms and fashions for everyone. Figure out what it is you need, and ask for that. Whether it’s mental health, whether it’s help with daily tasks, whether is a conversation and just needing to vent. Whatever that is, ask for it. You’re the only person on this earth who knows what you need.
- It does take practice and work if you’re not used to asking for help. Don’t be too proud or feel selfish for asking for it (which may be the most difficult thing to do.) Help yourself get comfortable in playing down any guilt that is associated with asking for help. Super heroes are in the movies. This is real life.
- We realize that sometimes just saying words and talking about these topics isn’t always enough. Here are a couple of things you can start practicing:
- Make lists. Big fan of lists here. What are you struggling with? Actually writing these things down and taking the time and putting in the effort of being honest with yourself may make it easier to ask for the things you are in need of
- Set. aside. you. time. Even if it’s 5 minutes a day. Take that time and do something for you. Meditation? A short walk? Walking the dog? Reading a book or an article? Drawing? Coloring? What makes you happy and you enjoy doing?
SELF SACRIFICE CAN TAKE ITS TOLL
- Cliche warning! When you’re living your life and constantly being a giver and helper (this is NOT a bad thing BUT) you may not see the forest for the trees. This cliche is basically saying that you may not be able to see the larger picture
- The larger picture being the toll taking all of this on takes on YOU.
- I bring this up because I (Sausha) very much am this way. And by the time I’m able to recognize that I’m struggling or need help, I’m about to explode with anger. Anger is my go to emotion (see BPD) When really I’m usually stressed, depressed, or just need a break in general. This often times results in me lashing out at the very people in my life I’m trying to help, or protect, or take care of.
- Being cognisant of where you’re at physically, mentally, emotionally, hell, even spiritually is super, super important. Being aware is not being selfish. IMO, it’s being selfLESS because you’re taking your own inventory. It protects you AND the people around you.
SECONDARY TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (COMPASSION FATIGUE)
- Compassion fatigue is a broadly defined concept that can include emotional, physical, and spiritual distress in those providing care to another. It is associated with caregiving where people or animals are experiencing significant emotional or physical pain and suffering.
- Staying in this for too long without seeking help can lead to animosity, negative feelings, resentment etc
- In our society, we’re often taught to put the needs (emotionally, physically, mentally etc) ahead of our own
- Being aware that this is what you’re experiencing is a huge first step. I don’t think we talk about how key awareness is when we have these conversations
- Being in tune with ourselves is huge. When we’re able to recognize what it is we’re going through and why, it makes it SO much easier to start the work needed to 1: be able to ask for help, and 2: acquire whatever tools it is we need to heal ourselves.
We understand that it’s difficult to ask for help ESPECIALLY when you, by nature are a caregiver. Don’t drown because you feel like you have to, or because that’s your purpose. Even those of us who naturally take care of others need help, and time, and space. We’re all human beings here. Demand the same grace from others that you offer them.