Written by Julia Perry
When we’re little, there comes a time when parents encourage us to figure things out as opposed to ask for help. Maybe it’s how to accomplish a homework problem or solve who we invite to our birthday party, but there is a moment in all of our lives where we were discouraged from reaching out and asking for advice. Yes, learning how to act on our own is critical to development from children into adults, but sometimes, as young adults we have trouble asking for help when we really need it.
I remember when I first realized I wanted to start therapy. My emotions were consistently fluctuating and my thoughts were wild and uncontrollable. I knew I needed someone to talk to, someone who wasn’t a parent or a friend, and so I realized I wanted to try therapy. Fourteen years old at the time, I realized it would be difficult, if not nearly impossible, to attend therapy without the assistance of my parents, and so I knew I needed to bring up the subject. It petrified me. Mind you, my parents are incredible and two of my best friends, so the fear within me was irrational, but regardless, I was terrified. I ended up coming to them crying after about three months of contemplation, and at that point I was so anxious about asking that it became all I thought about. When I brought it up, I was confronted with hugs and support and a passion within my parents to help me find someone as fast as possible, as they were shocked to hear that it had taken me so long to ask. Just as I knew deep down, there was nothing to worry about. My parents loved me and wanted what’s best for me.
With sharing this story, my point is, it’s hard to ask for help. Here are some thoughts of mine on tactics to make it easier, and conversation starters for when you don’t know where to begin.
1. Asking your parents:
Approach your mom, dad or other guardian and say you want a moment of their time to talk about something serious, and so you want to pick a time when you have their full attention. Start the conversation with honesty. Say 'I’m concerned about this', or 'I don’t know how to deal with this', and continue by saying that you would love to see a therapist to work through these problems that may come up. I can guarantee they will want to help you, and if that means therapy, even if it is unfamiliar territory for them, they will accompany you on this journey and help you find the help you need.
2. Asking your friend:
Maybe you’re at college, or post-grad and don’t get the chance to see your parents often. At this point, you don’t need to ask anyone officially to get help as once you hit eighteen years old, you are in charge of your own medical responsibilities. This however does not mean you can’t ask for help. Worried about going to an appointment by yourself, or just want someone to talk to? Approach the situation the same way you would with a parent and ask a friend for a moment of undivided attention. However instead of asking for permission, ask for support and potential accompaniment. Ask them if they would be open to going to your first appointment with you, or encourage them to ask you about your appointments every week.
I am a firm believer in the power of therapy, but sometimes, we’re too intimidated to know when or how to ask for help. I promise you, the best thing you can do is ask for it. Reach out to a parent or friend, be honest with yourself, and you are already on the path to a healthier and happier you!
Photo: Lauren Clements