When Mariah Carey brought her battle with bipolar II disorder out of the closet, you could almost hear an overwhelming “A-ha!” from the public. Like, that explains the…interesting behavior we’ve witnessed over the years.
“Until recently I lived in denial and isolation and in constant fear someone would expose me,” she told People magazine. “It was too heavy a burden to carry and I simply couldn’t do that anymore. I sought and received treatment, I put positive people around me and I got back to doing what I love — writing songs and making music.”
Now the famous diva is getting treatment with meds and therapy, and that’s to be commended, especially since the ongoing narrative in the Black community is that therapy is not for “us.” Research has shown that African Americans are less likely to initiate therapy and when therapy is scheduled, they are less likely to attend the first appointment, says Dr. Asha Sutton of Onyx Healing Network. “Fear of the unknown, not wanting to feel judged, be labeled or stigmatized are often reasons why minority populations are hesitant to seek mental health services.”
The stigma is real. But letting go of it and seeing therapy as an option could help win the war against mental health and the pain it brings to families. Here are reasons you or a loved might seriously consider seeking help:
You have thoughts of harming yourself.
If you have periodic thoughts of suicide or self-harm, save your life by seeing a licensed professional. If you’re thinking about it right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline immediately. The world needs you.
Changes in your life are too much to handle.
For example, the sudden loss of a job has sent many to the deep end. It’s scary and stressful to lose your income. It’s also hurtful to hear that you’ve been let go. Most people bounce back from these situations. But you may need to talk to someone.
You’ve got relationships woes.
Relationships can be hard. Period. But if you’re in an especially trying situation with a partner or family member, a therapist can provide an objective view on a specific issue and and help you explore better ways to communicate with each other for the long run.
You’re not getting enough sleep.
One symptom of depression is lack of sleep. If you’re lying awake at all hours of the night, unable to rest your mind, talk to someone about the underlying issues could be.
You’re abusing alcohol or drugs.
If you find yourself drinking more wine than normal or if you’re using illegal or prescription drugs to cope with the problems in your life, this is a huge red flag. Once you’re addicted, you’ve now got a medical problem to deal with, too. Talking to a professional can help you get to the bottom of why.
You start withdrawing from friends and family.
While it’s OK to take a break from social activities, disappearing for an extended amount of time is a red flag. If you’re ignoring phone calls and emails, and excluding yourself from things you normally do, it’s time to talk to someone who could help you deal with the loss of motivation.
You have no one to talk to.
Forget the stigma. Don’t worry about what anyone thinks. If you need to simply have a deep conversation with an objective person to help you sort out your life, it’s OK.
“It is important to recognize that new therapeutic avenues are available. Meeting in someone’s office is always an option, but telemental health services are expanding and quickly becoming a viable option for populations that have traditionally shied away from traditional mental health services. Researching these options as they may be appropriate in meeting your needs.” Dr. Sutton says.
Need help figuring out who you should talk to? Start here.