Hi! My name is Lizzie Bayles, I am 22 years old, from Athens, Georgia, and currently in school for my social work degree, eventually graduating with my Masters in clinical social work. Some of my hobbies and interests include dance, reading, journaling, painting/crafting, calligraphy, and anything outside, especially hiking. I also love coffee and spending time with the people who mean the most to me. When I’m not in class or partaking in any of my activities, I am usually at church, answering texts as a Crisis Counselor for Crisis Text Line, or working at my job as a resident care specialist at an assisted living and memory care facility, as well as attending therapy five times a week, 30 hours a week.
Yep, you read right. I go to therapy. I have gotten so many questions the past few years regarding therapy and why I do it, and the answer is simple: it’s because I know that I can’t do life alone. A little over 2 years ago, I was in one of the darkest places in my life. I didn’t see a way out in that particular moment, but eventually got myself to the point where I was able to seek out therapy. It was then that I was diagnosed with many disorders, such as major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety and panic disorder, PTSD, and an eating disorder.
While these disorders were just given names in my life 2 years ago, I’ve realized that they actually started when I was about 10 years old. See, I was raised in a family where I was told reaching out for help is a sign of weakness, and that if I need help, I need to do it on my own. I struggled for many years on my own, and once I hit rock bottom, I knew it was time to get help because taking things into my own control only left me out of control. And guess what? I’ve found that it’s more than okay to reach out for help. In our society today, there is a major stigma surrounding mental illness, telling us that if we have a mental illness, we are crazy or defective. But listen when I say this: you are not your disorder. You are not crazy or defective. You are uniquely you, and that is more than enough.
Here are 3 ways I’ve learned that it’s time to reach out for help:
- When you’re questioning whether or not you should reach out. This one seems self-explanatory. If you are going through a difficult situation that you feel too alone in and are thinking that you may need some support from another person, that is a good indicator that you should reach out for help.
- Before you feel too hopeless and like things are unmanageable. This one has been a really big thing for me the past few months. Personally, it is extremely difficult for me to reach out for help, which makes me wait until the last minute when I find myself in a crisis situation. A little tip from me to you? Don’t be me. Reach out before things get to that point. Like my first suggestion, reach out when you simply question doing it.
- When I feel panicked, scared, or unsafe. This point is extremely relevant in my life right now, especially while I am in the part of therapy when I’m starting to process my traumas. I often have flashbacks of unsettling traumas which lead to me feeling extremely scared and unsafe. It’s different for everyone, but I know for me, when I feel scared or unsafe, I turn to unhealthy behaviors, which eventually leads to me reaching out anyway.
When we are going through a difficult time in our lives, we tend to regress and shut people out. I know I’m definitely guilty of doing this! It can be rather frightening to reach out for help and support due to several factors, especially when we are uncomfortable with getting help in the first place. Something that I have learned that I will never forget is that reaching out may be uncomfortable, but it is absolutely more worthwhile living with the temporary discomfort than living miserable.
If you or someone you know is going through a difficult time, I highly encourage you to reach out to a trusted adult, family member, friend, therapist, or even the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline/any crisis line. Like I said earlier, it’s okay to not be okay. We all need a little extra boost here and there, so you are definitely not alone. You are valuable, worthy, enough, and you matter more than you know.