Over the last couple of years, I’ve had to make some tough decisions in favor of my overall mental and physical health. There were secrets long kept in the dark that suddenly shot out into the light.
That’s the thing with secrets: They don’t usually stay that way, and the things we try to keep in the dark seem to always find the light. It takes courage to do hard things. It also takes the right tools and support system. Here’s how I’m making my way out of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression.
Disclaimer: I’m not a licensed therapist. I’m simply sharing my own experiences in hopes that it might help someone else.
Confrontation Is Necessary
Confrontation is the one thing that I’ve tried to avoid my entire life. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered that confrontation is a powerful tool when used correctly. Most people typically see confrontation as something negative and ugly. It’s often associated with arguing. I’ve learned to reframe that. Confrontation is necessary. Confrontation is speaking your truth and asking the other person to acknowledge your truth.
For example, I had some repressed memories from childhood that resurfaced recently in the form of nightmares and panic attacks. These memories happened to involve my mother. She prefers texting, so I texted her and told her what was going on, and asked if we could discuss it so I could get some closure. This alone took a lot of courage for me to do without panicking.
Her response, unfortunately, wasn’t productive. It was hurtful. I won’t go into specifics, but the effective response to the confrontation I was seeking was an apology for my experience and an effort to see if there was any way that she could help.
Ideally, the person you’re confronting in a non-combative way is more open to the discussion than she was. The hope is that they will acknowledge your truth and offer to find solutions.
Therapy Isn’t Weak
The best kind of therapy for me has been “talk therapy.” Being able to talk to a neutral third party openly about what’s going on in your head is freeing. They don’t have any stake in the game. A neutral person can help you see where you might be making a misstep and how to correct it. They can provide you with the skills to overcome what you’re dealing with.
If necessary, a therapist has additional resources to help you, such as a psychiatrist. Additionally, this type of therapy is often covered by your insurance. Just check your policy to see what’s covered under “mental health.”
Talk therapy doesn’t have to happen in an office or even with a therapist. I’ve had talk therapy sessions with a life coach. I’ve even tested talk therapy with close friends, who I know can handle the topics I need to discuss.
Mental health is an important topic for everyone. In my experience, this is especially true for men. I’ve discovered that many men have been conditioned to believe that seeing a therapist or even talking about their feelings makes them less of a man. That’s simply not true. It actually makes them stronger men to acknowledge that they need some help. I hope that every man in my sphere knows that I am available if they need a safe space to talk and share.
I applaud any man (or woman) seeking to better their situation. If you aren’t quite ready to see a therapist, writing is another way to express your thoughts and feelings.
Advocate For Yourself
You are your greatest advocate. There’s nobody who knows what you need better than you do. If you find that you’ve hit a wall, keep pushing forward. Dig for solutions. Continue to fight until you find a solution that works for you or until you find someone who will listen. Sometimes you might feel like your problem is too small to justify seeking help. Whether that’s just your ego talking or an unsympathetic friend, don’t listen to that. There is no problem too small if it’s affecting your day-to-day life.
There are some days that I just need to rest. I’m learning to listen to my body and take that moment to relax. It might be an hour-long nap. It might be a whole day. The point is, I’m not afraid to say that I need rest anymore. I let my clients or anyone counting on me know that I need a day to rest. There’s never been any kind of pushback because I’m speaking my truth and advocating for myself in a way that makes a positive impact. If I can rest, I’ll perform better the next day.
So many times, we’re afraid we might upset someone else or put them out when we voice what our needs are. The truth is, by voicing what our needs are, we’re allowing the people around us to show love, grace and compassion. That should make everyone feel good!
It takes courage to do hard things. Trust me, I know. Don’t let anyone keep you down. Keep trying. Persevere. If something isn’t working, try something else. Go at it from another angle. Stay positive. Stay confident. I know that sounds easier said than done, but the more you practice perseverance, the easier it becomes.
It not only becomes easier, but it also becomes empowering. Once you overcome an issue you’ve been grappling with, you’ll feel this amazing strength. I often feel invincible when I solve something that I’ve been working at.
There will be people or circumstances that might be in the way. That’s OK. Thankfully, there’s always a way around it, even if it’s not the shortest distance. Some solutions take time. Some solutions take many drafts.
The point is, by setting boundaries, confronting your issues, advocating for yourself and pushing forward, you’re growing stronger. And for that, know that I’m proud of you.
My Direct Messages (DMs) are always open. Take care. xo @KellyInPhoenix