Only you can determine if now is the time to get professional help (for yourself or a child.) Your doctor, a family member, or a trusted friend might say so. They could be right and it can be helpful to get “outside” feedback from those you trust. Still, we are so accustomed to “doing it ourselves” or feel we “should” be able to handle this or figure it out that this strong belief can muddy a relatively simple decision.
Definitely get help if you or someone in your care is experiencing or expressing suicidal or homicidal thoughts no matter how “serious” you think they are or are not. Definitely get help if you or someone in your care is hurting her/him-self in any manner, no matter how “mild” it seems. Definitely get help if you recognize that you or someone in your care is hurting other people verbally, emotionally, or physically.
That said, sometimes it’s not that clear. After all, there are multiple things to READ and try on the internet or in books that are self-help and promise a cure. And you haven’t yet tried everything! Plus, you’re resourceful, smart, and have gotten this far.
So when is it time?
Any one (or more) of the following over a span of two weeks or more mean it’s worth finding a real, live professional to lend a hand:
- your situation keeps you awake at night or
- wakes you up in the middle of the night or
- is on your mind first thing in the morning
- your work feels significantly more stressful than normal or
- you’ve received feedback that your personal life is interfering at work
- a friend or colleague has tried to end a conversation when you need to talk
- you don’t take pleasure in things you used to enjoy
- your children become depressed or anxious
- your children develop stomach aches or act out at school
- you’ve been researching solutions on the internet
- you purchased a self-help book or people are “gifting” them to you
- people are giving you (solicited and unsolicited) advice about how to manage
- anything you’re experiencing is uncomfortable enough to make it significant to you
- you have a question about your specific situation (or a bunch of them)
Life happens to all of us. Loss happens to all of us. Unfortunately, you don’t get a gold star for handling it better than someone else or for NOT asking for help. You also won’t get a gold star for including therapy or coaching as your go-to resource.
You’ll get more than a gold star and you’ll get it sooner.
The rewards of good “therapy” are intrinsic: reversal of symptoms, access to a warm, knowledgeable, and specifically helpful human, validation of your process, skills to manage in the best ways known to man, an ongoing resource for any future disruption.
It can be risky. Growth can be painful. Change is hard. Trust is hard for some of us. Meeting someone new and sharing wounds is hard for nearly everyone. Pain is pain. Grief surely sucks no matter its shape or source.
The way through is not always simple or easy, yet it’s worth trying to find the right trained person.
Your resources of time, energy, and (probably) money are limited, so you want to know you will connect with someone you 1. like 2. trust and 3. know is skilled to help in your situation.
I wish I could wave a magic wand and help you skip to the perfect connection. (If you didn’t already see this, I’ve provided some quick guidance here with links to a couple other articles.)
I know I’m not the right person for everyone -though I wish I could be- so it’s also not a matter of me just saying, “come here; I can help.” But if you hear me saying that to you, well, then do come here and let’s connect!
Most importantly, if any of the above list fits your situation, then it IS time to find a professional someone to help.