What should I do if I’m struggling, worried, or trapped in behaviours I don’t know how to get out of?
Physical and mental health should be considered equally, and we are, I believe, getting much better at understanding this. But it can be difficult to know when and how to seek help, particularly if the problem doesn’t seem to be an obvious medical condition.
Ideally your GP should be your first port of call as there are some difficulties which show emotional symptoms but can have an underlying medical cause that needs treating (e.g., thyroid and menopausal issues). But it can be hard to know what to say and how to talk about feelings.
It used to be the case that your GP would mainly offer medication, but there is much better access to psychological therapy now. There can be a waiting list unfortunately but if you are offered help from your local NHS service do put yourself on the waiting list. In the meantime, there are lots of self-help resources out there (books, websites and apps), as well as private psychological therapists. Nowadays therapy sessions can be carried out by telephone, or online video as well as face to face so there are options out there if you want to see someone privately. Therapy doesn’t have to mean endless weekly sessions either. You may just need a short course to get you back on track again.
You could start by saying that you don’t feel good, and then say how things used to be for you before you felt like this. Are there any thoughts that you have been having that feel overly negative, or worries that keep going around in your mind and making you feel anxious? Are you having flashes of distressing images – of something that has happened or something you fear might happen? Intrusive thoughts are common, especially when we are worried or anxious so please don’t feel that you will be judged for having them. Or maybe you are feeling that you just don’t have the motivation that you used to have, or you feel a bit lost or caught in patterns that you can’t seem to get out of.
Try using this quick table to jot down how you feel, it can help to see it written down, and it gives you a format to give to a GP or to the therapist that you see.
When we feel bad, our thoughts match what we feel. This isn’t helpful when it makes us think and believe that things will never get better. They will, and they can. I know it is hard but give therapy a try. Do it for you. You do deserve better. You don’t have to travel, although being in a different physical environment can make you see things from a different perspective, which can sometimes be helpful.
The Physical and the Psychological – inextricably linked!