Courtney Dickson, Wellness Columnist Ω
I don’t talk about my issues, or even deal with them, because I’m so worried that sharing my faults will alter people’s feelings towards me. Admitting that was really difficult.
Even though it’s widely talked about, there is still a stigma attached to people who aren’t independent, who need to lean on others for support.
There are days dedicated to mental health awareness, workshops and support groups, and statistics have been published that should make us feel comfortable accepting these struggles.
Some people, however, still view mental health issues as threatening. This past fall, controversy occurred when stores in the U.K. were selling a “mental health patient” costume. The particular costume in question was removed from store shelves because of its offensiveness and insensitivity. However, if you Google “mental health patient costume,” more than one outfit appears. There are even costumes designed specifically for female “mental patients.” People are dressed in straitjackets or look like they’ve just returned from some murderous rampage.
Knowing that’s what people think of those who see a doctor or counsellor makes it impossible to want to tell someone, anyone, what’s going on. I’d rather tell people I have a doctor’s appointment for my asthma or an interview for a story than say I’m going to see my counsellor. And I’m quite certain I’m not the only person that does that.
Then there are some people who don’t ask for help at all. Not even from a friend or family member, or from professors or bosses. Asking for help would be admitting you aren’t perfect.
When I think about it from a rational perspective, I don’t understand that. But when you’re already feeling down or anxious, recognizing you aren’t as independent as you thought or something as simple as not being able to finish a paper on time when everyone else can, is devastating.
A Statistics Canada report says most mental illnesses manifest during youth and young adulthood. The average age of onset of depression is 28 years old and the average age a person begins to experience panic disorder is 25.
TRU has a counselling team that will talk to you about literally anything, and a wellness schedule with alternative options to improving mental (and physical) well-being. Anyone (not just students) in distress can even call anonymous hotlines if they have no one else to turn to.
In my experience, professors are generally understanding. Believe it or not, they’re people too, and they know sometimes you have to deal with things that in the long run, are more important than getting a paper in this second. Same with bosses – and if an employer isn’t understanding of your need to take care of yourself in order to perform your job to the best of your ability, do you really want to be working for that person anyway?
It might be difficult for you to admit to yourself that you’re struggling, let alone anyone else. Saying “I can’t do this by myself” feels weak sometimes, but by getting the help you need and dealing with whatever it is that’s hurting you, you’re going to feel stronger.
Sometimes you just need someone to say these words in order for you to be comfortable with it, so I’ll say them now: it’s OK to ask for help.