How To Help Others, By First Helping Yourself
There were times, when I was in a mental health facility or program, that I would feel that helping others was the reason that I was there. I was wrong, because obviously I was there due to the fact that I had lost my will to live and consequently tried to end my life. For most people that feel rewarded by helping others, there is usually a darker side to it. If you were to take an animal behavior class, or even listen to stories about selflessness, you’ll probably have heard of the word Altruism. Altruism, without a definition, can be summarized as actions that are performed without anything gained by the perpetrator. It is a very well debated topic on whether Altruism truly exists in humankind, or even in nature.
The reason I bring this up, is because while we are at our lowest, we often feel immense gratitude by helping others in our environments. We feel it is a calling to help those around us so that they do not need to suffer the same as we do. The reason it is important to talk about this is because we will often neglect our own needs in the effort to help others. I myself am very guilty of this. I would constantly try to be a welcomed addition to any group therapy I joined by helping those around me. I did this however, in a subconscious plot to drive attention away from my own needs. I do not think that I started this blog for those reasons, but I can’t help but to wonder.
The moral of the story here, is when you are feeling at your worst you may attempt to help others in order to alleviate your pain. While I am all for helping others, that’s even one of the major points of this blog, you need to focus on receiving help before you can give any. Imagine your mental health journey as climbing a mountain. The trails are treacherous and slippery, but often become more traversable with help from professionals. However, would you try to tell someone the best way to make it to the top if you’ve never been there yourself? Of course not! You have to have reached the peak in order to be able to help others get to where you are.
I say this with the most love and respect for all of you reading, but you need to make yourself better first. Just like in a plane crash, you put your own mask on first. That being said, I will be focusing on myself for the time forward.
Starting next week, I will be releasing 1 article a day at 12 noon EST so that I have time to focus on myself and my own healing. When I am so close to the top of my mountain, I often think I’m there before I really am, and I slip and fall. Not this time, I am going to be extra vigilant against my depression. Unfortunately that means I won’t have as much time for you all as I want. Fret not, I will still be responding to all comments within a timely manner.
Photo Credit: Unsplash: Ben White