Communicating Your Needs; How To Get Your Mental Health Needs Met
Communication is key
Often times in life, many do not know how to get their mental health needs met. This may not be a question of mentioning it, it may be that they don't know how to explain it, or if it's okay to talk about it. In this hub I'm speaking on how it's better to communicate your needs than not to and why.
For years and even up until today, I did not know how to get my needs met.
When I was a child, my father told us never to call an ambulance. I'm one of ten, so of course he wanted to keep costs down, and I don't know if this was just his way of doing things or a combination of avoidance and money, although I think we always had medical health insurance, we were never to go to a hospital unless we were bleeding heavily from a flesh wound, or some such emergency.
When I got my first UTI, urinary tract infection, I was I think in my twenties, but I did not know I had one. I basically knew I was sick, had a fever, and felt ill, but I had no idea until I waited until the last minute that I really needed care. At that point I had my nephew drive me. (I must have been about 26, because he's 10 years younger and just got his license.) Anyways, when I got to the hospital, I was desperate. I was very uncomfortable. I had a high fever of like 104 or some such thing. I had horrible chills; feeling hot and freezing. I was emotionally upset and worried I'd pass out or go delirous and lose my mind since I had no idea what being delirous meant.
Well, I ended up on an IV for 3-4 days. Yes, my UTI was so bad, I needed to be on an IV. Isn't that crazy?
Well, my point is, Get help when you need it; Don't wait until the last minute, Don't put off being sick, Get help when you need help.
Getting mental health needs met
So how does that relate to mental health? Same thing really. Don't wait until it's too late. Mental health is a very important thing and depression or anxiety untreated can lead to severe problems. There are also other symptoms people may have that may seem more severe like hallucinations or just being plain paranoid, whatever the case, get seen.
What do I mean by get seen? Go to your local ER room, or call 911 if needed. Otherwise talk to a therapist, school counselor, teacher, social worker, or trusted friend or family member.Tell someone. It may be hard to admit, and you may think you're being weak, but mental health, like a cut untreated, can become quite an infection...
When I say infection, I mean that it could get much, much worse, and you want to nip it in the bud, so to speak, as in take care of it as soon as you see it showing, as soon as you see something is wrong, so that way, you won't end up on and IV like I did for UTI, or in a mental health sense, you won't end up in a hospital or end up hurting yourself or someone else. But, it doesn't even have to be that. Just the fact you may be suffering, or feeling unsafe, or feeling paranoid, or severly anxious, depressed, or something, is unnecessary, at least to me, at this point, it seems unnecessary.
What's My Story, Why am I writing this?
You see, I've been involved as a client in the mental health system for almost 20 years now. I was diagnosed bipolar at age 16, yes, I know it's a "label" and all, but we need to get help for what's going wrong. Anyways, to be honest, there have actually been many times I was untreated. I mean by that, I was not getting the best care I needed at the time whether it was a good therapist, the right combination of medicine, or some such thing. There have been many many times I dealt with severe depression and I mean living alone at the same time. For me, I need to be around people if I'm severely depressed, just like if you had a high fever, and thought you may lose consiousness, I need someone there, because depression can get to the point where you can't really function.
But I still haven't expressed why I'm writing this article to be completely clear, so I will try to tell you. It's one thing to know you need to go into a psychiatric hospital-- I think most of us know if we are really sick. You know, feeling unsafe etc.
What about respite?
My whole life, I never really needed the hospital or respite. But....lately I have.
After I was diagnosed at age 16 and put on the "path to recovery", I did well and stayed out of the hospital, except for one 5 day stay, for about 15 years. Okay, do the math, yes, since I've been diagnosed bipolar, I was only in the hospital twice in the first 15 yrs- once to get diagnosed, and once for 5 days.
Well, the past 5 years have been tough. Oh, that's the understatement of the year! Well, look, let's talk about right now....It's 7:01 am. I woke up from a not very good sleep at 6:15. I just got out of respite 10 days ago. (What a respite is....a place to "rest" and feel better, an alternative to the hospital, for people less severe, who need a place of support.) Yeah, ten days ago. Nice, huh? Well, I spent some time with friends or people, I'll keep that to myself,....so basically these people who were supposed to help me feel better....at first it did feel better....well at least I was not alone....even thought I was very depressed for personal reasons....it ended up I got upset because they acted absurd, which is nothing new. So yesterday I'm at the ER. Then I go home and this morning ........I just know.
That's the whole basis for this hub. I just know.
What do I know?
- I'm not feeling well
- I'm having symptoms I don't like
- I shouldn't have to suffer it out like my dad told me until .....
- Why should I suffer when I know what I need?
I used to believe until recently, and no one told me this, that I had to tough it out. And yes, I'm strong, and that's helped a lot. But it doesn't help to HIDE how you're feeling when you're feeling not well.
[Days later, I'll tell you I never went to respite that day, but it helped to have supports and the choice/option to go. :) ]
It's Often Very Hard To Know....what you need
How the hell am I supposed to know what's wrong with me? (You might say.)
I was never mentally sick. I have no knowledge of symptoms or ailments
I usually drink
I usually do pot
What is wrong? Ahh...i don't know?
(These are some reactions people may have.)
Yes. If you've never had a mental illness or if you've never felt overly depressed then how would you know? Why is it happening? Am I a bad person? Am I weak? Is it genetic? Will I be on pills for life?
When making this descision....what comes to mind is:
Nip it in the bud. Nip it in the bud. Nip it in the bud.
- I'll be less upset
It will be easier to work on what I need to work on
I'll become more aware---------of what I need
How Do You Get Your mental health needs met?
How Do I know what I need??
It could take a long time to figure out what you need. Doctors don't know you unless you tell them exactly what's going on in your head. This is an invisible illness. It's not a bleeding cut you can see.
"I'm afraid to tell them"
Tell them how you feel. Even if you think it sounds crazy. Why walk around feeling bad.....there are new medications out there now that work better. Maybe you need the right combination.
"I don't know what to say"
Be upfront and as clear as possible. Take it from me....It's okay to say you're not feeling well. It doesn't mean you're going crazy or nuts. It doesn't mean you're weak. It means- you want to be well.
A Few Ideas on figuring out: What Is Wrong With Me??
Get out a pad of paper and pen. And keep it handy. When you're not feeling well, write down how you feel and perhaps why if you know why. Explain in detail what you're thinking or feeling emotionally or even physically. For example:
- Keep a daily journal (mood journal) tracking how you feel each day (there may be a pattern)
- Talk to your therapist regularly
- See your doctor or psychiatrist regularly
- Take your prescribed medication
Okay, what I really meant to say is....You need to take notes.
WRITE DOWN THINGS LIKE.........I FEEL UNSAFE..........I FEEL PARANOID.......I'M SCARED......I'M ANXIOUS...........I'M DEPRESSED............I CAN'T SLEEP.........I'M HAVING TROUBLE EATING............
I'M ALONE.............LONELY............LOST A LOVED ONE................LOST A RELATIONSHIP.........HATE WHERE I'M LIVING OR WHO I'M LIVING WITH...........HAVE ABUSE GOING ON IN MY HOME........ABUSE AT SCHOOL?............TOO MUCH HIGH EXPECTATIONS OF TEACHERS AND PARENT?...............
OKAY. SO YOU HAVE A START.
This is really the only way, because only you know. Only you know. ( Only you know.)
Regarding Respite again.............I used to think, "Why does so and so always go so often?" I had no idea what they were going through and it's none of my damn business what it is or why so often. Sometimes in life, things happen, life changes, events take place and you need more help than usual. I could say, if I just had a place or someone(s) to live with, I wouldn't be going, which is true. But I have to think...."Maybe this is my solution and where I should be. Maybe I need to learn how to live on my own? Maybe it will take time to get over loss, maybe....maybe I need to learn how to live...and Maybe I need better meds."
Whether I live alone or not, I'm going to be the same person or feel the same way. I'm going to still be sick. So, I need to TELL people and GET WHAT I NEED...try to feel as good as possible. If I'm experiencing certain symtoms for years- I may think that's normal. Anxiety is one example/possiblity for you. There are just certain things many people live with. But I don't want to feel horrible all the time. I don't and cannot afford to feel this way if I live alone and have no one to take care of me or bitch to, or be there. I need to feel well enough to function.
So, in conclusion, if you're not in the mental health system and feel awful, find someone to talk to.
If you're already in the system and you are experiencing symptoms- you know what they are- but are afraid to tell doctors/therapists; is that really wise? Suffering (from a UTI on an IV when I could have gotten an antibiotic)..........
Tell your doctor ..........even the little things. Why be anxious/paranoid/not able to function when it's very likely you could use a new medication or an old one isn't working anymore or whatever?