Do not worry, I do not intend to burst into a rendition of the Beatles anytime soon, but as usual, McCartney and Lennon had some wise words to share with the world. In this case, the importance of asking for help.
I have received a number of messages recently from people asking whether they should go and seek professional help for the feelings they are experiencing. Whilst I am deeply touched that anyone would come to me for advice, I would like to emphasise that I am not a medical professional nor have I had any counselling training. I speak from my personal experience only.
Mental health is an entirely unique and variable experience which must be treated based on your own circumstances and symptoms. If you feel that you need immediate assistance, please always speak with a trusted family member or friend and seek professional advice from either a doctor or helpline such as the Samaritans.
I have always been a huge advocate of asking for help. I say always, but this is not really true. In fact, it is a giant lie. I am pig stubborn and still like to believe that I can be entirely self sufficient. My mum loves to tell the story of when my parents attempted to teach me to tie my shoes laces and I point blanked refused to be shown, petulantly declaring 'I DO IT.' Even as I toddler I thought I knew best. I took this attitude with me into my grown up existence and it took at lot of tripping over loose shoe laces to realise that I did not always know what I was doing. (I would like to clarify that I did in fact learn how to tie my shoe laces. This is just a handy metaphor.)
I used to feel that asking for help was a fundamental indicator of weakness. Help was going to a parent, a teacher, a doctor and admitting that you were not coping. When my anxiety hit full force I had such little understanding of what was happening that I was left with no choice but to seek advice. Overtime I began to realise that asking for help did not mean that I was failing, it was a way of reconnecting myself to the world. Asking for help allowed me to increase my human connections by sharing my situation with another person.
Now, I am not suggesting that you grab the nearest stranger and pour your heart out to them, nor get a friend to make all your life decisions for you (although that often seems appealing to me), but if you can start slowly and reach out to another person, you may begin to see that you are not as alone as you may think.
Asking for help can manifest itself in a myriad of ways. Some, are simpler and more palatable to the stubborn amongst us, such as;
Want to try a new fitness class but are scared to go alone? Ask a friend to go with you.
Others can be harder: speaking to your boss about flexible working arrangements or asking your partner for space are two of the hardest I have had to do in recent months. Neither were easy undertakings but I know now that asking for help is not a weakness it is a sign of strength.
Let me finish by revisiting McCartney and Lennon briefly:
'When I was younger
so much younger than today
I never needed anybody's help in anyway
But now these days are gone and I'm not so self assured
Now I find I've changed my mind
I've opened up the doors'
Asking for help is just opening a door. Let the person in, let the air in.