My friend Allen started developing an eating disorder and depression soon after his father passed away. He finally got the courage to reach out and ask for help. Here is more about his experience.
Alysha: What made you ask for help/ how did you start receiving help- did a teacher/ friend notice something was wrong?
Allen: A girl in my art class who had being going through the same issues started seeing signs in me like how thin I was and how she had never seen me eat. All things she noticed in herself before she got help. She started to email me and talk to me about it. Eventually I talked to my guidance counselor about the issue (anorexia and depression) and the counselor assisted me in getting further help, by referring me to school nurse.
Alysha: Who did you ask? A friend/ parent/ teacher? How did you ask- through email, letter, speaking with person…?
Allen: I had slipped a note in my guidance counselors mail box and she then saw me in the hall and told me she would like to speak with me in her office later that day.
Alysha:How did they react to you asking for help?
Allen: She had never really come across the issue with any of her other students; it was new to her so he contacted the school nurse to get more information to help me.
Alysha: What did they say/do? Did they help you in any way?
Allen: She helped me in everyway possible, by getting me phone numbers of hospitals and convincing me to go to my family doctor.
Alysha:What type of help did you receive –guidance appointment, counseling, someone that would listen, trip to emerge, phone number of service?
Allen: I was bounced around with Doctors, and was rejected from some rehab clinics because of the medications I was on. I was told, "I was a potential threat to other patients" because of mood swings I got from the meds they put me on.
Alysha: Did your friends/ parents/ school find out about you seeking help? Did you want them to find out?
Allen: My teaches knew about some issues, but for the most part they were in the dark about it, the only people at school that knew were my friends, my guidance counselor, the school nurse, and the few teachers I told. I told my family eventually, but they had already suspected some of the problems by that time because I avoided meals and had passed out at school and at home a few times.
Alysha: How did they react?
Allen: My mom was incredibly hurt that I couldn't confide in her the problems I was having. My sister was really irritated at the whole process. The people at school however were incredibly supportive.
Alysha: What was the hardest part about asking for help?
Allen: Feeling vulnerable, as though I was giving in to my problems. I was terrified that I would be refused help for some reason.
Alysha: How did asking for help benefit you?
Allen: Well, I was diagnosed and treated for the problems, and I’ve had an almost full recovery. I find myself falling back into some old habits now and then but now that I’m conscious of them I have learned to control myself. It is sometimes really hard, but I make a H U G E effort to avoid past problems with food. I know when what I’m doing is negative so at times I force myself to eat even when I don’t want to just so that I don't get back into my old routine. I’ve started going to the gym, eating healthy, and making sure I eat what I need to, when I need to, even when I don’t have the desire to eat.
Alysha: If you went to Doctor, psychiatrist, counselor ect, what did you like about it, and what did you dislike?
Allen: I disliked the entire process. I've never been one to talk about my problems, so I found it hard to confide things to them. This made it difficult on all of us involved. I always thought they were judging me negatively and it made me more and more self-conscious. Eventually I wouldn't talk about my problems, I would continuously change the subject to avoid it.
Alysha: What was the best part of getting help? Relief, felt less alone, learned different coping tools ect….
Allen: I eventually felt more at ease, and I realized I wasn't alone; the best part was that I wasn't so angry at the world, and didn't contemplate suicide anymore.
Alysha: What did you like about counseling, and how could a counselor/ therapist make the process easier? What would you tell a counselor to do differently?
Allen: I liked it because she was someone to talk to, but what the way she spoke to me was as if she was speaking down to me and making me feel less of a person- her whole presence that bothered me, she looked at me as an inferior person.
Alysha: What should you say to a friend if they think they need help?
Allen: Just let them know that you are there for them if they ever need anything. Tell them your door is always open and to never second guess coming to you for help or advice.
Alysha: Do you have any advice for someone thinking of asking for help themselves?
Allen: You may not want the help at first, (I know I didn't) but you'll regret not getting it.