Sometimes I wonder what world optimists live in. It can’t possibly be the same as mine, because mine is one of twisting mists, overcast skies, and lurking shadows.
Besides the possibility of parallel universes, this phenomenon is likely a matter of perspective.
What is perspective?
Duh; it’s how you see everything. And, I mean everything. In fact, perspective is how you see, hear, taste, touch, smell, and sensedeadpeople everything. It’s like eyeglasses you wear on all your senses.
Now, I know you’re a smart cookie who already knew all that. But, did you think about how perspective applies to mental health? Specifically, did you think that this means other people will have no clue how to relate to what you are sensing all the time?
While you are lying in bed, certain that nothing will ever change and that people are crap, someone else is skipping around and wondering how to spend such a glorious day. That person may even be in your house and driving you crazy with the skipping.
I know. I’m married to a skipper.
I often resort to sticking a leg out as he passes -but, my counselor suggests I ought to engage in fewer sabotaging behaviors like that.
What I and you really need is for others to understand what we are going through. We want them to help us because we often can’t help ourselves. We want acceptance and love. We also don’t always know what we want besides to just feel better.
This is where perspective comes in.
Many, many posts here at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog of Amazing Stories and Poems and Posts and Mental Health Issues and Such If You’re Still Reading This Title I’m Amazed deal with the perspective of mental illness sufferers. I’ve learned a lot, and I consider myself part of this little group -though from a safe distance because I also have social anxiety.
These stories help others to understand. But, they are only the first step.
For other people to get us the help we need, we need to walk at least one more pace. Now, don’t get stressed and close this article and go binge on chocolate. I’m always about keeping things doable. My steps are always baby steps.
All I’m saying is that, after you share your perspective, you need to ask for the help you need.
Not sure what I mean? I wasn’t, either, till recently.
I began counseling just over a year ago from a very dark, confused place. I hadn’t even found this lovely blog. No one seemed to relate to my anxiety or concerns or negative self-talk. If anyone talked to me about my issues, they handed out aphorisms like useless bits of random jigsaw puzzles.
Fast-forward to a lot of sessions (and money) later, and I had an epiphany. (That means an inspirational thought. Look how much I’m teaching you today!)
I had been attending counseling sessions, waiting for her to know exactly what to do based on the few answers I’d given to questions. I expected that she felt my anxious hesitancy about groups, that she was always looking at the glass half-empty, and that she also saw life as an endless drag of sameness.
Nope, she didn’t.
Apparently, she skips, too -though, less than my husband. And I needed to tell her what I was sensing.
“I need you to give me exact phrases I can say when I feel that way,” I finally admitted.
Or, “Today, I need to talk about how to talk myself out of a depressive cycle before I spiral and don’t want to even get up.”
Or, even, “Can you please explain what you meant by that term?”
Thing is, the counselor has a different perspective. She has hers. You have yours. That random guy walking past has his. That woman over there has hers as well.
In regards to mental health professionals, we need to approach sessions the way we would a regular doctor visit. If you were at the doctor’s office, the dialogue might run as follows:
What are you seeing the doctor for today?
-Oh, you know; I was walking up the stairs and stubbed my toe really hard. I think it’s broken.
Applied to our mental health, the dialogue would go like this:
And how are we feeling today?
-Oh, today I woke up feeling like even the sun hated me and I had a major panic attack at the thought of riding the bus.
As my husband says, we’re paying the counselor to fix the problems. It’s her job.
If you are smarter than a random blog-writer like me, you may already be past the step of telling your mental health professional what you need. So, smarty-pants, have you gone on to apply this to talking with your partner? Close friend? Mother? Busybody neighbor?
Don’t go crazy -crazier– admitting all your problems to strangers. Let me tell you: one Facebook post can alienate your neighbors. I am, however, advocating appropriate responses that help friends or nagging neighbors to give you the breathing room and support you might need.
If you’re feeling a bit down and think no one loves you, try texting a friend and telling him or her that you need to feel better. It might be a good night for movies.
If you think you could just use a good laugh, call someone who tells jokes.
If you’re feeling too much pressure from demands, ask if you can’t have a few things due at a later period.
When I attended a local mom’s group we talked about the Audacious Ask. The idea was that we needn’t be afraid to ask other people for help. We were challenged to ask a friend or neighbor for something we needed for us, even if we were stressed that they wouldn’t want to.
My counselor agrees that we all have different perspectives. She also says mine can be tweaked a bit up the positivity scale, but that’s a topic for another post.
In the meantime, I challenge you to use your new power of perspective to ask for what you need.
Don’t be afraid. If your friend came to you, wouldn’t you want to help?