When to ask for help


As a therapist and coach, one of the many questions I get asked is, "How do you know when it's time to ask for help?" I totally get why people ask this. It can be difficult to figure out when to say "when", especially if you're a high-functioning person like most of my clients are. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, here are three major signs you could benefit from some outside help:


1. When you aren't functioning well

This can mean something different for everyone, but one of the most telltale ways to notice is through your body. When we're not functioning well we can have all sorts of physical symptoms, like sleeping too much or too little, stomach problems, skin problems, racing heart rate, panic attacks, eating too much or too little, aches and pains that seem to come out of nowhere, and other physical issues. Things may look great on the outside - you're killing it at work, you're finishing all your creative projects, and you're spending time with family and friends - but maybe you're rushing to the bathroom several times a day or you're tossing and turning all night with your mind running a million miles a minute. This is a sign you aren't functioning well and might need to seek out some help.

2. When someone close to you says something

You might also ask for help when someone close to you starts noticing you're not functioning well. Maybe you're dropping the ball at work or at home. Maybe you're more irritable or spacey than usual. Maybe you're drinking too much. Loved ones can offer us an outside perspective we might not be seeing. When someone else points this stuff out, it can be difficult to accept, but if it comes from someone you trust, who you know has a good head on their shoulders, I encourage you to give it some serious thought.

3. When you feel stuck

Sometimes we just can't get out of crappy feelings or we can't seem to move forward. A lot of my clients come to me with this type of feeling. They say things like, "I'm anxious all the time and I'm tired of it.", "I'm ready to take my creative work to the next level, but I'm terrible at self-discipline.", or "My partner and I keep having the same fight over and over again." Being stuck is the most common reason people come to therapy or coaching. If you feel like you've been stuck for awhile, it might be time to seek out some help.

Help can come in many forms

It doesn't always have to be structured or professional. It can be a long conversation with a trusted friend or mentor, a request of your partner to listen more, a support or accountability group, or - of course - a therapy or coaching session. If you're looking to find a great therapist, I encourage you to take a look at my handy guide on the subject. It contains links to directories, tips on what to ask during your consultation, and advice for getting the most for your time and money.

No matter who you are, it's ok to ask for help. Your love and care for others - and your creativity - are only enhanced when you take the time to care for yourself.