If you tend to suffer in silence rather than seek real help for your mental health challenges, learning to overcome the urge to ignore or hide your problems is a must for getting yourself on a healthier pathway that leads you to healing and relief.
Don’t Suffer in Silence
There are a variety of reasons why a person may choose to suffer in silence rather than seeking professional help for a mental health challenge. For example:
1. they suffer in silence because they feel ashamed for needing help.
Things are improving but stigma surrounding mental health continues. Despite some of the toughest people stepping up to discuss their mental health quite a few people hang on to the idea that mental health issues are the result of a “weak personal constitution” that can be overcome simply by trying a bit harder.
2. they suffer in silence because it seems easier to ignore difficult issues.
Emotional repression is a common way many people choose to deal with challenging emotions. Learning how to embrace and actually feel emotions is frightening – so many emotions are downright unpleasant, and the thought of having to face them directly and experience those feelings makes people uncomfortable.
Rather than feeling uncomfortable and actually experiencing the emotion, many people learn early in life that they can repress their emotions. Repression, or ignoring/hiding your emotions, is similar to keeping a lid clamped down on a pot of boiling water.
Eventually, the clamps on the pot lid are going to snap off under the immense pressure. Repressing emotions works the same way – if you continually hide and ignore those difficult emotions, they aren’t going to disappear.
3. they suffer in silence because they adhere to social stereotypes.
A good example of this is masculinity. Boys are typically taught that being a real man means solving your own problems and dealing with tough stuff on your own. Asking for help is seen as a sign of weakness. Instead, men are led to believe that they should figure out everything alone.
Another toxic factor of this stereotype is that men shouldn’t display or express their emotions. When this is coupled with the notion that “real men” can solve all their own problems, you are left with a recipe for emotional disaster.
4. they suffer in silence because they don’t know how to discuss emotions.
This is a two-pronged issue. Partly it’s about having the ability to identify your emotions but secondly it’s about the vocabulary required to voice them. Without these skills, people struggle both to understand and explain what they’re feeling. This is where professional help can be useful.
Suffer In Silence – It Won’t Improve
Suffering in silence adds a lot of extra, undue stress on your body. If you’re already struggling with a serious mental health issue, allowing yourself to continue on miserably without any assistance or professional intervention can make those problems even worse.
Another aspect to suffering in silence is that it can lead to the formation of new mental health issues. The stress and anxiety caused by trying to single handedly manage a very difficult mental health issue can cause people to develop panic attacks, depression, and a whole host of mental health issues.
When you suffer in silence it merely increases existing feelings of loneliness and isolation. If you’re already feeling lonely you are already struggling to connect with others in a meaningful way. When struggling to connect with other people and suffering in silence, the intense feelings of loneliness and social isolation can become even greater.
I’m Not Good Enough to Bother With
Really? Any time you allow yourself to suffer in silence, you unknowingly reinforce the idea to yourself that you aren’t good enough or don’t deserve to feel better. This is an unfortunate side effect of resisting outside help from others and depending on yourself.
While suffering in silence is already a big enough problem when you consider the fact that you’re already struggling with tough emotions, it can cause tons of problems in other areas of your life, too. For example, when you suffer in silence, you’re not sharing your issues or worries with anyone else but yourself. This creates a breeding ground for negativity.
This type of negativity can begin to leech into many other aspects of your life. As you suffer in silence and stew in your existing issues, it can be easy to allow negativity to touch other parts of your life, such as your relationships with friends, your job, your passion projects, and more.
People May Care More Than You Know
People aren’t mind readers. Some are better than others when it comes to observationals skills but if you suffer in silence, nobody else will be aware of how severe your issues have become. In fact, if you’re suffering in silence too stealthily, even your closest friends and family members may be totally unaware that something is amiss.
They may notice you’ve become a bit more withdrawn, perhaps a bit more prickly with your moods, but if you don’t let people in, what you’re going through remains a mystery. Very often it’s the perspectives outside of yourself that matter the most. The chances of you being told to man up, get a grip, or pull yourself together are actually incredibly remote. It’s far more likely that people will try to help.
How Not to Suffer in Silence
Practice Getting Comfortable With Your Uncomfortable Emotions
Emotions are tricky, but one of the best ways to make dealing with them a little bit easier is to tackle them up-front. When you handle your emotions and process them as you experience them, you eliminate the risk of repressing them and making your situation much worse.
A great way to begin facing your emotions head-on is to start getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. This may sound conflicting, but simply put, it means getting yourself into the habit of acknowledging an emotion as you’re feeling it.
For example, the next time you’re feeling lonely, upset, or frustrated, don’t ignore the emotion or brush it off as “no big deal.” Instead, try to vocalize why you’re feeling those emotions. As you talk yourself through your feelings, you’ll notice that it becomes easier to identify the triggers causing those emotions. When those emotions and triggers are easier to identify, it becomes easier to talk about why you’re feeling that way with yourself and other people.
Allowing yourself to feel and experience an uncomfortable emotion is challenging, but with practice, you can learn to get progressively more comfortable addressing them.
Admit Out Loud That You Need Some Help
Everyone needs help from time to time. Human beings are naturally social creatures; we all depend on someone else from time to time, whether it’s for entertainment, companionship, or assistance.
If you’re approaching your mental health struggles, such as depression or loneliness from a “lone wolf” perspective, you’re going to need to share with someone that you need help, whether it’s to a friend, family member, or mental health professional.
If the idea of asking for help makes you feel uncomfortable, you can practice asking for help by acknowledging aloud to yourself that you need help. The simple act of telling yourself “I need help to solve this problem” helps put the reality of what you’re experiencing into perspective.
If needed, repeat the phrase to yourself multiple times to help solidify those feelings. Use this as a tool to get yourself more comfortable with acknowledging a need for outside assistance.
Learn More About Treatment Options
While many people would benefit from mental health treatment from a professional, few people end up seeking it. For example, out of all adults across the United States who would benefit from mental health services in 2020, only around 38% actually sought professional help or treatment. That’s less than half of folks using these valuable resources to help themselves feel better and find relief!
Choose To Give Yourself The “Best Friend” Treatment
Think about your oldest, closest friend. If that friend were struggling with a serious mental health concern, you’d want them to reach out and find the help they needed to begin healing.
Start treating yourself like your own best friend. Instead of continuing to suffer in silence, think about what you actually deserve. Just like your best friend, you deserve to find relief and comfort from reaching out to someone about what’s been troubling you.
Challenge Your Assumptions
People make assumptions about everything. Sometimes, these assumptions are harmless (for example, you can assume that it’s going to be a rainy day or that your coworker might be in a grumpy mood), but other times, these assumptions can be disastrous.
Begin challenging your assumptions about what you deserve in life. People suffering in silence tend to never question their assumptions about what they do or don’t deserve because they don’t realize they have the power to do so.
Let Go Of Any Desire To Be 100% In Control
Suffering in silence suggests that a person can maintain total control over themselves, their emotions, and their mental health challenges. It is a fact that nobody will ever have 100% control over everything that happens to them in life. The sooner you’re able to accept this fact, the sooner you can begin moving past suffering in silence.
Letting go of your control is challenging and requires an enormous leap of faith but realizing that you don’t have (and will never have) total control over your life releases your spirit from an overwhelming and impossible amount of responsibility.
Once that difficult barrier is shattered, you can allow yourself to move forward and seek the help you need to begin feeling better and recovering from your mental health struggles and difficult emotions.
Remind Yourself That You’re Not Actually Alone
Suffering in silence is an incredibly lonely and isolating experience. Since you aren’t sharing these difficult emotions with anyone else, you’re struggling through the worst of the problems all alone. However, just because you’re suffering in silence doesn’t mean you’re truly alone!
A good strategy for breaking the loneliness aspect of suffering in silence is to remember that other people in the world – perhaps even people you know and love –understand the emotions you’re experiencing right now.
This fact can be difficult to grasp; since you’re suffering in silence, it’s tough to imagine sharing your experiences with others, but you are experiencing real human emotion. Even in your deepest and darkest struggles, you’re experiencing similar feelings as another struggling person in the world.
When you’re feeling challenged to admit your struggles to others because you’re afraid of the stigma or seeming strange, remember that you aren’t strange – there are many other people facing the same challenges as you all around the world.