There need be no fear or stigma attached to recognizing that I/you/we/anyone is concerned about the state of our mental health. Reaching out for help does not mean that you will be taken from your home in handcuffs or a straitjacket. Reaching out for help is a courageous thing to do, and I/you/we/anyone is worth it! God forbid that we resort to permanent solutions to temporary challenges. Most situations which have us in a quandary prove to be temporary situations as time passes, but we do not have to be completely miserable during the time it takes to pass.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
In the opening paragraph of this article, I mentioned permanent solutions to temporary challenges. That was a euphemism for suicide. There was once a long timer (someone with 20+ years of sobriety) in AA who was known to say, “If it is a choice between drinking, or committing suicide, please go drink. We can help you sober up again.” Suicide is not reversible. If you are having thoughts of harming yourself, please reach out for help to National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can call their hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
Crisis Text Line
We live in a society where texting is almost as prevalent as the weeds in my back yard in July. It is not surprising that, when one might find oneself in a mental health crisis, one can simply send out a text message and receive assistance. Text “HELLO” to 741741 and be connected to a 24/7 hotline, no matter the type of situation at hand. You can also visit the Crisis Text Line website.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a multitude of departments available to us all. While local 12-Step groups for alcoholism and drug addiction are certainly available and easy to locate, SAMHSA is another resource for locating help for yourself or for someone who may live in a different city than where you reside. Their helpline is 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and is confidential, free and available at all times.
Help for Caregivers
As our population is aging, many of us are choosing to take care of our loved ones in our, or their, own home. The social isolation which caregiving regularly produces can be quite the challenge to deal with. Finances get turned on their head. Worry and anxiety frequently occupy our thinking. Stressing about making the medical care decisions is not uncommon. Caregiver Action Network is an excellent repository of information for caregivers seeking respite and personal care (for the caregiver) suggestions.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s Resources
Alzheimer’s Connected is a web site for people who have Alzheimer’s and also for anyone providing caregiving for those with the disease. The web site has discussion forums which are useful for gleaning advice and information, as well as to share one’s story. It is unwise to underestimate the mental health issues which caregivers oftentimes incur. Just to know that we are not alone as caregivers can be most helpful. And for someone who has the disease, it can be reassuring to know that others are in a similar situation.
Veterans Crisis Line
The crisis line for our Veterans costs nothing to call and is available to all veterans. It is not necessary to be enrolled or registered with the VA. Well-trained responders are available 24 hours a day, every day. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1 or text to 838255. The number for deaf or hard of hearing vets is 1-800-799-4889.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
By serving in the military in any capacity and at any rank, our military veterans literally stepped up and offered to put their lives on the line for our great nation. There are a multitude of stressors and issues which a veteran might find herself or himself grappling with after their term of duty.
The US Department of Veterans Affairs has a lot of support available for veterans. The effects of traumatic brain injuries (TBI), substance abuse, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and general mental health challenges can be present in even the toughest of our vets. I state once again, Dear Reader, that there is no shame in reaching out for help. And doing so certainly is not a sign of weakness in any way whatsoever.
To our veterans – I thank you for your service, and I implore you to let your nation help you when, or if, you need some assistance.
For alcohol, drug, and gambling addictions, it is highly recommended that the person seeks out local 12-Step programs which deal with each specific addiction. There are rehab centers and other programs which also deal at least with alcohol and drug abuse. The singleness of purpose, which a true 12-Step program sticks to, allows it to be most helpful to those in need. Alcoholics Anonymous deals with alcoholism. Narcotics Anonymous deals with drug addiction. The others deal with the addictions associated with the name of the program. Addictions are, at least in large part, mental health issues. There is of course the physical addiction, but the behaviors at hand are tied to mental and emotional issues which can be addressed by working the steps of the given program.
You matter to me, Dear Reader, though I do not know and may never know who you are. We are all God’s children and, as such, we all matter. At some times in our lives most all of us have challenges which we find overwhelming. Most difficulties will pass in time. We have no control over that. What we do have control over, for the most part, is how we respond to those challenges. We can learn new skills new ways that we talk to ourselves. All of us can learn how to replace or change negative core beliefs we may hold. We can learn how to let go of past, or present, traumas which seem unbearable today. If the “Service Engine Soon” mental health light is blinking at you on the dashboard of your life, please reach out to someone for help.
When my car’s “Service Engine Soon” light is illuminated on my dashboard, I am presented with two choices. I can call the auto shop and bring it in to get checked, or I can ignore it and live with the worry, the uncertainly and the inevitable consequences of ignoring the warning light. The same holds true with our personal engine – our mental health.
I do not know how to work on my car when the “Service Engine Soon” light comes on, and I oftentimes do not know how to work on my own mental health when I become aware that my thinking is suspect. There is no shame in asking an auto mechanic for help. I would prefer that my car not become inoperable. There is no shame in asking a mental health professional for help, as well.
I do not write this just as a theoretical exercise in typing, Dear Reader. I write this from real experience with my car and with my own recently skewed perspective. Roughly six months after my Mother had died, I was acutely aware that the grieving process was beyond my experience. It had me by the throat and I did not know how to handle the emotional meat grinder. I could not find my way forward by myself.
I made a telephone call to an organization which employs people who are skilled in grief counseling. The results of working with a skilled professional have been great. I’ll not share my whole story here, which led up to my having such a challenging time with my Mom’s passing. You can read my book if you wish, as that is the story it tells. A link to it is at the end of this article. I share this to let you know that what I am suggesting in this article about mental health resources is born from personal experience.
Caregiver burnout was my experience. The days and nights were dark, and I could not imagine it ever changing. My mental health engine was in need of a tune-up. I needed help. Solo full-time caregiving for 5+ years had taken a toll on my emotional reserves, and I found myself to be (or to feel that I was) an empty vessel. I simply did not know how to begin to diagnose, let alone fix, my own mental automobile. I am glad I made the call for help.
Written by: Aaron Ainbinder - the author of “Just Before the Stroke of Seven” which is available on Amazon.