It’s Bell’s “Let’s Talk” campaign time of year again and it’s got us thinking about the stigma surrounding mental illness, how lonely and isolating it can be, and what the heck can be done about it.
For starters, we are still baffled about why, in 2018, we are not past all this stigmatizing. Why are people with anxiety still being told to just “stop worrying” or people with depression being told to just “think positive and be happy!?” What we know is that receiving those messages can stop us from seeking the help we need when we need it because we feel shame.
The shame can be felt in a few ways. It can stop us from admitting to ourselves in the first place that we need help. Or, it can make us feel weak and pathetic that we aren’t able to figure it out on our own. It can make us feel guilty about asking for support because we don’t want to burden anyone. We may also feel like no one will understand and we will be judged, so we hold it inside. We suffer in silence, and then often feel worse because no one is offering us their support. This makes us feel even more lonely and isolated than we did in the first place.
But the thing is, if some guy broke his leg no one would judge him for feeling pain or seeking help and having a cast put on. So why should mental or emotional injuries be any different?
Like they say over at Bell, let’s start talking about it! Talking about our problems shows us we aren’t alone. Although there might be something wrong with me, there’s something ‘wrong’ with everyone! Even our therapists! All of us deal with our own shit, no one is immune. That is not to say that everyone experiences mental illness at the clinical level, but we all experience self doubt, grief, defeat, relationship and family stress, etc. And we’ve all experienced the shame that goes with it.
Shame researcher, Brené Brown, has found time and time again that speaking about what we’re going through, with someone who has earned the right to hear it, directly works to snuff out our shame. Brown talks about this in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, where she found that the less we talk about shame, the more powerful it becomes because it thrives on secrecy, silence, and judgment. Therefore, sharing our vulnerability starts to heal us! You’d be surprised once you open up what others share or may have in common with you and the connection you feel to them. This connection alone helps to squash some of the loneliness that comes with mental illness.
Still feeling shame about needing help?
Put it this way, we wouldn’t expect Bob with the broken leg to know how to give himself the necessary surgery to recover. The same goes with needing therapy. Think of it as a proactive practice to look to people who know a thing or two about what might help you. Sharing your story with a therapist creates connection, kicking the isolation and loneliness to the curb, and putting you on the path to start a happier and healthier life!
Here at Shift we work everyday to tell the shame and stigma around seeking help for our emotional and mental well-being to shove it! (It is literally one of our company mandates). We recognize that when our mood is out of control, like being in a deep depression or having mega anxiety, we already feel powerless, so going to a sterile office can feel cold, isolating, and intimidating. We shoot for our clients to feel proud, empowered, and confident throughout their therapy journey, while tossing in the odd joke or two while we’re at it
At Shift, we have zero interest in paying the role of the stuffy expert psychologist, because we feel this just plays into the shame game. We look to show you what we know and how to apply to the places you feel stuck in your life. No judgment, no jargon, no taking ourselves too seriously. The bottom line is, we’re no better than you, we just happen to know some stuff about improving our mood and we want to share it with everyone we can!