The initial steps of starting on the path to recovery often come at a confusing time. One’s personal life may be in a state of upheaval or transition, causing stress and confusion, making it difficult to see the path forward. One of the most common questions I am asked is: should I talk to a professional about the problems I’m having?
The short answer is yes, you should. If for any reason you are contemplating talking to your doctor or mental health professional about problems you are having, then the answer is yes, you should talk to them. At minimum, they may be able to provide some perspective or suggestions on how to handle whatever it is that you are facing. And if it does turn out to be a more serious issue, well, you’re in the right place to start looking at the problem and addressing it.
I find that people tend to add their own fears onto the end of that statement. I say, “talk to a mental health professional.” That doesn’t mean, “talk to a mental health professional and take medication.” That association is incorrect. You’re going to have a conversation. That conversation can lead to medication if the professional decides that it is warranted and the patient agrees.
Your agreement is an important point. If you don’t agree with that suggestion, just say, “I’m not ready for medication yet” or “I don’t want to be medicated.” It’s far less scary than the mind can make it out to be, particularly if the fear is amplified by an uncontrolled mental illness or stress.
A willingness to comply is necessary for real progress and recovery because it’s not like anyone is going to babysit to ensure you are taking your meds or using therapy techniques. It’s something you have to want to do yourself. That’s why you can’t really force a path of wellness or recovery on anyone. The best you can hope for is to sort of guide them in a direction that will hopefully lead to realization.
Of course, that is in the context of a non-crisis situation. Crisis situations are different and not really relevant in the context of willingly seeking help on your own.
Fear is often fueled by the unknown. One of the ways you can push back against the fear is to familiarize yourself with the policies of the facility where you would be talking to the professional. Every place I’ve been to has provided paperwork that outlined patient rights, expectations, and some relevant systems. Simply go in and ask the receptionist for copies of that paperwork to review.
Don’t let a fear of the unknown or thinking that your problems aren’t severe enough prevent you from talking to a qualified professional about them. It would be better if more people did talk about their issues sooner. Maybe then they could be intercepted before those issues explode into full-blown crises or drastic situations.
Talk to your doctor or a mental health professional if you are having a rough time. It can make a tremendous difference.
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