Like many people who’ve struggled with mental illness I’ve been told it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help.
And I’ve always had a hard time accepting it, because anyway I look at it, yes it is. If I can’t do something on my own it means I’m not strong enough to do it on my own, ergo, to that standard I am not strong.
The problem isn’t the weakness. The problem is my idea about the weakness, particularly when it comes to mental health.
If someone is in a wheel chair, or they have crutches, or even if they just ask for help opening a pickle jar, it is not seen as a moral failing or weakness of character. They are just operating within their abilities to live life as best they can, often in a world that does not take into account their needs. I’ve had injuries that made simple things like doing the laundry difficult. If you’d told me that asking for help then wasn’t a sign of weakness, I would have just looked at you confused.
So why isn’t it the same way with mental illness?
Why are we, or I at least, so much more comfortable admitting that yes, while my shoulders messed up from a car-accident I am not strong enough to carry this large heavy box full of books. But saying no, while I’m recovering from this melt-down I cannot go into that loud crowded room full of noisy people.
I’ve had this odd battle with the idea of not being weak because how can needing help not be a sign of weakness? And trying to do the mental gymnastic of that, has gotten in the way of the thing that’s far more useful.
Accepting that sometimes I am weak. And that isn’t a bad thing.
It’s not a moral failing to need help.
The whole point of community is so we can help, and be helped in turn. So we can share joys and sorrows, and be stronger together, then we could ever be apart.
Ask for help when you need it. Acknowledge your weakness, not with shame, but compassion.