Finding the right professional for you can be frustrating. But if you are currently not seeing a psychologist, there are several things to keep in mind:
Around three months ago my psychologist of two years stopped practice. It was a shock and something I had not anticipated. It might not be a surprise to some of you that I have chosen not to see anyone since. I was extremely close with my psychologist, she helped me get through the peak of my mental illness when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It took me nearly six years to gain the confidence to seek help and I was so blessed to be able to find not just a psychologist, but a friend in the first. So when I was left to decide whether to call someone to start a new relationship, I decided to carry on looking after myself. On one hand I was scared that I wouldn’t have the same luck in finding someone as good as I had before and the other because I believed I could handle things myself. In these last months I have learnt a lot, not just about myself but about this illness and those around me. These are the three main points id like to share:
1. Just because you are not seeing a psychologist, it does not make you any less healthy or devalues your mental health journey.
The first thing I experienced was that people – even if they do not mean it – did start to question my stability. I do understand that going through a change such as this is quite big so it would be natural to be a bit disrupted. However, the time in which I did see my psychologist, I learnt a lot of skills and coping mechanisms on how I can go about my life. Although I might not be seeing someone, I do keep my doctor in the loop every now and then. I truly believe that I have grown in being forced to help myself.
2. Whilst you might not be speaking to someone regularly about your mental health, it does not mean you should stop talking about it all together.
The next point is extremely important. Since I am not actively talking about how I am going every second Tuesday anymore, I realized how extremely lucky I am to have friends and family I can talk to about having bipolar. It is hard to open up to people about everything that goes on in my head, I don’t like to be a burden on the people around me – especially if I feel as if every time I do open up I might annoy them. Although I do know how to understand my emotions and can deal with my mood most of the time by myself, it does help just to vent about something, not necessarily to find answer just to get things off my chest and out of my head. Whilst some people might only feel comfortable talking to their psychologist, it is important to be able to share with those who care about you. I have learnt that those in my inner circle do want to know how I am coping and want to be there for me.
3. Although your friends and family might not have the technical training as a psychologist, they do want to listen and try to help.
Mental health professionals do try to provide us with answers and help us get through dark times. They have studied and have years of training to do so at the best of their abilities and are skilled in what they do. Our friends and family may not know much about mental illness; I know in my family I am pretty much the only one who has a mental illness so when I became public about having bipolar disorder not many people knew what to do. Since then I have made a wellness plan that includes triggers, coping strategies and an emergency plan. It sounds intense – but it does give a small 101 in how to deal with Sarah’s bipolar. Recovery can be that little bit easier when you have a loving and supporting team on your side.
Sarah is a full time university student studying a double degree in a Bachelor of Communications majoring in social and political science as well as a Bachelor of International Studies. After being misdiagnosed with depression for the duration of her teens, Sarah was diagnosed with Bipolar II in 2015. Currently, Sarah is an active and passionate advocate for the awareness of mental health and the destruction of the stigma surrounding it.
Her passion for communication is a major tool in her bipolar management plan. Coupled with her role as a speaker for mental health groups in Sydney, she hopes that by sharing her story to as many people as possible, it can create a better understanding of the diverse nature of mental health.
To read more of Sarah’s work or to contact her, check out her blog!
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