Just like any other health struggle, psychological problems can be really overwhelming. However, we react to mental illnesses a bit differently than to physical ones. While professionals have created a long list of mental health problems, some people assume that their negative thoughts and feelings are their problem. They believe that with enough time and effort, they can successfully ignore or overcome them. But in reality, the struggle may never pay off. Why is it so difficult to do it alone, and how to successfully overcome mental health problems?
The journey towards healing can be a long and winding road. Especially when you are traveling alone. There are several reasons why you might get stuck.
You just lose motivation along the way.
If you are researching how to improve mental health, you often find hundreds of tips online. However, it is not often mentioned that it will probably take months to see if your new coping techniques or habits are working. This may seem like far too long a period, especially when you are suffering.
Luckily, there are several things that may help. Humans are very social beings, and the right person can inspire them a great deal, either with their success story or direct support. Some find motivation in movies, literature, or quotes. What might also help is the technique used by therapists: setting a clear goal and knowing how your life will improve after you overcome mental illness. Not losing hope and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel is an essential part of healing. Science has proven it.
In the late sixties, Martin Seligman initiated an experiment that eventually led to a new term in psychology – learned helplessness. Learned helplessness occurs when someone finds themself in an unfavorable situation and fails to escape or solve it after numerous attempts. Eventually, they accept life as it is and try to endure it. If this situation sounds familiar: there is a way out, even if now it doesn't look like it. There is a very small percentage of people whose mental illness doesn't get better after treatment. And even then, there is hope: science and psychologists constantly come up with new treatment methods.
For most people, having a professional or a group of like-minded people to lean on is what works the best. That's the reason around which anonymous groups were founded. However, there is no single recipe for success, and it's necessary to identify what helps you. Sometimes it means doing some research about the nature of motivation itself.
Overcoming mental health issues means doing something extra and often forcing it because you are not really keen on doing anything. Pushing yourself to get out of bed and hit the gym for some endorphins. Going to open spaces or parties when it makes you feel anxious. Thinking about that traumatic event instead of ignoring it. And no one can blame you for not doing these things because living with negative thoughts, worries, and sometimes physical symptoms is really hard.
However, only continuous efforts can help you create positive mental health habits. Getting support from others, setting clear goals, and doing small steps instead of grandiose plans could give you some extra success warranty.
You don't find what works
When you decide to reclaim control and evict depression (or any other mental illness), you probably search the internet, read a few books, or download some apps. But that doesn't mean that you will hit the bullseye with the first meditation technique. There's a chance you won't like meditation at all. The problem is that there is nothing you can do to foresee what will work and what won't. It means you will have to try all these things, and it can take time. You can also find a professional who has the experience to decide what might be the best in your situation.
You bump into an equation you couldn't solve
Sometimes your thoughts, feelings, and physical symptoms can signal something deep and mysterious inside you. A guy may wonder why he broke up with his girlfriend when everything was close to perfect. Was he afraid of intimacy? Is it possible that he was incapable of loving? Did he worry that the girl may leave him first? It turns out that she lived on the 40th floor, and he was afraid of heights without being aware of it!
It's hard to analyze yourself effectively because it's nearly impossible to find the reason when you don't know it exists. You probably don't know all the types of mental health illnesses and symptoms, do you? Someone may try hard to deal with their depression when it's actually an adjustment disorder. If they knew that they would try to change their environment, find new hobbies or friends rather than thinking everything is hopeless. Adjustment disorder often disappears as soon as someone starts to feel good in their place.
Most of the time, it’s hard to see the reason from the side. That's when you need someone you trust to give an honest opinion, or a person who will know how to guide you to the correct conclusions.
You suffered side effects
If you tried medication but stopped taking it, you probably got the effect you didn't ask for.
Antidepressants can be an effective way to treat mental health conditions, and sometimes can be the only solution. Just like any other medication helping your body, antidepressants regulate the chemical processes in your brain, helping you ease or eliminate symptoms. It's the most widely used treatment option in the United States. However, it has one downside: the relapse rate is high. Many people are stopping taking pills after experiencing unpleasant side effects.
Side effects can occur for the first 2 months after starting medication, or changing the dose or type of antidepressants. Scientists haven't found a fast and affordable way to select the right medicine and dose for every individual. They developed AI algorithms that can determine what is best for you from your blood sample, but the application of these technologies is in the future.
In the meantime, you should remember that when your body gets used to antidepressants, the side effects disappear. It typically takes between a few weeks to a months.
If you have stopped your journey towards better mental health, it's understandable. However, analyzing what caused you to give up can provide you with useful insight into how to make more informed decisions next time. There is a wealth of literature, podcasts, and other resources available to teach you about willpower and motivation. Friends, therapists, or circles of people with similar problems can also help with your goals.
You encountered problems too big to manage
When someone breaks a leg, they probably don't think "Oh, I can handle it." Overcoming mental illness works on the same principles.
Mental health problems can have different intensities. Social anxiety can manifest as feeling uneasy around others or an absolute panic. If you have a serious mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, it will be almost impossible to overcome it on your own without the assistance of professionals. When you hear about someone beating their mental health illness with a 2-month yoga course, remember that they might have never experienced severe and devastating symptoms.
It might be difficult to realize that something is worse than you thought, but it never means that your health doesn't depend on you. Let's imagine that you stretched your leg and can't walk. Thank whoever invented crutches! But even if now you depend on them, it doesn't mean that you can't do exercises to heal faster. In a few weeks or a month, you won't be needing crutches anymore, but whether or no you do the exercises will decide the health of your leg. The same accounts for mental health. When the problems are hardly bearable, some temporary help from the side can make your progress faster, more successful, and most importantly – less painful.
Stuck in fear and shame
Unfortunately, mental health issues are still stigmatized. While society attempts to change this by bringing mental health issues to the public's attention through politicians, activists, and celebrities, changing the situation is easier said than done. Opening up about your mental health problems can seem like the right but a hard decision. Not everyone has the courage to do it. But why is it necessary to get rid of the shame? Because it might be the main reason why you are still struggling. There are several reasons behind this.
Hiding things inside you can make you feel inferior to others. This will lead to more stress and lower self-esteem, and worsen your symptoms. It can also make you feel isolated from others and unwilling to share your true thoughts and feelings, or try to ignore them. This is never a good idea. Ignored mental health problems don't disappear – they root in, making it harder to solve them in the future. Shame prevents many from seeking help when they need it. Learning the diagnosis and getting professional health support can skyrocket your healing process.
The power of empathic communication
People struggling with mental health disorders often feel detached from others and misunderstood. Their negative emotions and fears can stop them from sharing their experiences and feelings with others.
Sometimes this happens after a negative experience. People with depression can find it hard to focus on jolly things and often pay more attention to negative ones. This imbalance can sometimes weigh others down, and your friends or family can start to distance themselves or try not to touch on painful topics.
A similar situation can happen to individuals with anxiety. Constant worries can make them feel overwhelmed and afraid to engage in everyday activities which others enjoy. They can decline offers to go to parties and friend gatherings to avoid feeling awkward. In the long run, their friends will stop inviting them, and this will make them feel rejected, yet relieved at the same time.
There is no one to blame – not everyone is educated in mental health topics and knows what kind of support is right. Sometimes inexperienced friends or relatives can even do more harm than good. They will come up with everyday decisions and solutions such as "relax" or "just enjoy life, it will pass." These words are not wrong, but they are made from their perspective and can make people who struggle with mental illness feel underestimated.
However, withdrawing from people is not the solution. In fact, it can make your situation even worse. Humans are social animals. You may say – "but I'm an introvert and like to spend my time alone!" Even introverts need to feel understood and accepted by others. They just prefer fewer but meaningful relationships. When people feel lonely, their mental and overall health worsens.
According to psychologists, patients with mental health problems need supportive conversations and attention to their emotional issues. Even if your empathic friends and family members can listen to you, this may not always be enough. Most of them cannot truly understand the depth and complexity of your feelings and have no idea how to help you overcome your emotional and mental problems.
What is the solution? Mental health professionals have the experience, knowledge, and willingness to help you. They will take the time to understand you, your problems, and your goals and create a healing connection with you. They will investigate what causes your mental health problems and then consider the most effective ways to help you.
While different therapy approaches understand the therapeutic relationship in different ways, all have one thing in common – a special connection called the therapeutic alliance. And they all agree that the therapeutic alliance is one of the most crucial factors of successful therapy.
Therapy takes into account every person's preferences. If you've avoided psychologists because you don't want to create a close bond with someone, don't worry. There are therapy options in which the therapist won't try to get close to you, just make you trust them and show you specific things you will need to do to feel better.
Some forms of therapy have their limitations. The process of finding the right therapist can take up to a few months (especially in these difficult times). It also requires traveling to the therapist's office 4 times a month, dedicating your time, and also quite a lot of financial resources. The problems with mental health care made therapy an inaccessible luxury for some. However, there is a different type of therapy you can try.
Online therapy offers you the opportunity to communicate with a therapist on a daily basis. If you are feeling low, just grab your phone and write to someone who understands. Online therapy is proved to be as effective as in-person counseling. It also requires no traveling or scheduling, while cutting costs. Counseling online gives you the opportunity to be completely anonymous and is perfect for people who still struggle with accepting their problems.
Mental health problems can be hard to deal with when you are alone. It requires much time, attention, and determination. But everything is possible. With the right ways, mindset, and enough time, you can eventually find your way to happiness.
And if you think that with a little bit of help you could do more, there are people who can offer professional support. Check online therapy plans at DoMental and find therapists who are ready to guide you out of your struggles.