Her demeanour sank when she told me she had started anxiety meds. She looked at the floor and her shoulders slouched down as if she had somehow failed; like success would have been to avoid them, or not need them, and failure was to have to take them.
My heart broke, and not at all because of the meds. I was sad because she felt like somehow, she had failed. It was definitely not the case – far from it. So many people are battling mental health challenges right now. Needing to go on medication, or get help in whatever way it’s needed, is definitely not failing.
I told her there is absolutely a place for medication, ideally it is a last resort, but needing to take it is no reflection on whether or not she is a success or a failure at life. Failure is not a person. Needing help simply means you’re human. Life has been hard on absolutely everyone. We all have seasons where we struggle and need a little, or a lot, of extra help, in whatever form that may be.
For some, that’s having a friend to vent to, others that’s a counsellor or psychologist; for others it is regular exercise, massage or a vacation, and others it’s medication. There are no right or wrong methods, simply what is right for you.
Needing that help does not, and never will, equate to failure. In fact, if you ask me, coming to a place of knowing you are in need of help, whatever package that help comes in, is the opposite of failure – it’s success, it’s bravery and it’s strength to ask for it.
She smiled and her shoulders relaxed when I shared how I felt. This woman had just lost three very special people much too soon and was navigating so much all at once. As she grieved their loss, she absolutely needed all the extra help she could get. We chatted a little further and when she was ready, I put her through a workout and she left with a smile on her face.
Her approach to mental health has been a holistic one. She has been eating healthier, exercising regularly, getting counselling, and is now taking medication. I’m confident she will be just fine because she came to a place of knowing she couldn’t get better all on her own. Sometimes it takes a village and that’s OK.
I hope that in the midst of this looming mental health storm that seems to be sweeping over our world, we all come to look at help differently than we’ve viewed it in the past. Coming to a place of seeking help should never feel like you’ve failed.
Help isn’t an admission of defeat or a revelation of insufficiency. Help is something we all need in order to get through this life. Asking for it is the most successful thing anyone could ever do, and when we do it, we free others to do the same.
Fitness, healthy food, vitamins and minerals, a support system with people to talk to, nature time, rest, prayer, journalling and yes, medication and more, are all excellent and necessary tools to keep our minds well.
As we approach the winter season where Seasonal Affective Disorder and other mental health challenges are so prevalent, consider asking for help if you need it, and offering it if you’re in a place of not needing it. Both are equally important and both can change a life forever.
This is a monthly opinion piece; Alison Brown is a local business owner, mother and published author.