On Helplessness and Reaching Out for Help

The majority of last year was spent looking for help. I got back into therapy with someone that specializes in personality disorder. I got a psychiatrist and was prescribed medication for my mood disorder and schizoaffective needs.

I exercise. I'm on the keto diet. I'm out and about, socializing.

On the surface, it looks like I've made leaps and bounds in my recovery.

Yet, yesterday, I had a panic attack in the middle of Walmart, hit by the sudden fact that the lights were too bright. Everyone's thoughts were too loud. My head began to feel like it was being crushed by the weights of boulders. I forgot where I was. As I checked out the measly two items I walked in and out for, I could barely hear the cashier. My brain became clouded with awful, intrusive thoughts, like a radio someone turned up way too loud.

The journey back to my truck felt like miles. I sat down and was grateful that my puppy was there. She spread herself across my lap and tucked her face into me, while I continued to have a psychotic episode in the middle of the Walmart parking lot.

No obvious triggers. I've been taking my meds, going to therapy, talking with supportive friends. I've been getting 10 hours of sleep, thanks to the medication. I did everything right. 

But that's the thing with mental illness.

Mental illness doesn't care if you did everything right.

No matter how often I track my moods or watch my diet, a psychotic episode can still spring up on me out of nowhere. I could spend my days relaxing, taking care of myself, barely lifting a finger, and I can trigger the psychosis.

So if you're having a bad day, and you don't know why... it's alright.

 If anyone knows the original artist, please let me know so I can credit them!

If anyone knows the original artist, please let me know so I can credit them!

I had to do something that I always preach about, but rarely do myself. When it comes to asking for help, it's easy to tell others to reach out, say something. But the feelings of guilt, worthlessness, humiliation, and even embarrassment, make it difficult to actually go through with it.

I sat in my room for three hours, bawling my eyes out, contemplating all the ways I could hurt myself, before I hit the point where I thought I should dial my local emergency hotline. Perhaps I should put myself in inpatient care. I made that my backup plan. So I started texting my friends.

I'm having a breakdown right now and I don't know what to do. I'm sorry for reaching out, but I don't know what else to do.

My first two contacts were unable to do much but wish me well.

Luckily, my third contact asked if they could come over and keep an eye on me. Nothing major. Just came over, sat with me, and reassured me that this was okay. Also, letting me know that I wasn't being a burden.

And I know friends like this are hard to come by. They're a rarity. 

Still, reaching out for help is to admit, I'm having a bad day and I need help. I can't do this by myself. As an adult, there is a shame I feel when I have to say that I can't do something by myself. I feel limited. As if I am incapable.

But to survive, is to allow other people to help. It's to give yourself a space of vulnerability and trust that there are people in this world who are willing to give a hand in your dark times. Survival is putting your own humility aside and being okay with the fact that today, in this moment, you need help.

Maybe tomorrow will be better. Maybe this is just a bad day, that will pass. It's okay to ask for help on those terrible days.

You got this.

-F

P.S. For a list of resources and hotlines, click here.