How Do I Convince Myself To Get Help for Mental Illness?

October 17, 2011 Natasha Tracy

One of the problems with mental illness is that it is episodic. Particularly in the beginnings of mental illness, someone will have an episode of illness, and then an episode of wellness. While I'm never against episodes of wellness, this does lead to a problem: when we're well, we convince ourselves we don't have a problem and refuse to get help.

This is normal human behavior. No one wants to believe there is anything wrong with them. So it's natural to deny problems when they are not readily harming us. Unfortunately, this means that many people don't get help for a mental illness.

When we're sick, we're too sick to get help. When we're well, we deny we need it.

The Bipolar Cycle

This is particularly true of bipolar disorder. When depressed, a person often readily acknowledges they are in agony and need help now. But unfortunately, help is rarely instantaneous. And by the time appointments have been made and people, like psychiatrists, are available, that depression may have faded in normalcy - or worse mania/hypomania. And it is all too easy to feel "fine" or even "great" during one of those times. And if you feel fine, why would you need help?

Delaying Treatment

And we know that the sooner you get treatment for a mental illness, the better your outcome is likely to be. Delaying treatment can not only worsen your condition but it can be deadly.

mp9003096351How Do I Make Myself Get Treatment?

So if you're aware that you're caught in a cycle of not getting treatment even though part of you knows you need it, what do you do?

Involve Others

My advice is to involve one or more people in a support network. When you can't keep yourself on track, others can. Others aren't battling the issues that you are. Others can maintain perspective consistently. So get others involved in your struggle.

I understand it's very difficult to trust others with information about mental illness. But these people are your lifeline. These people are going to support you now, tomorrow and for years to come. You don't just need them just so that you'll get help, you need them so that you'll stay in treatment, so that you'll go to appointments, so that you have people to talk to. You're making an investment today in your long-term mental health.

yes - notepad & penTell someone about your health concerns. Tell them about the cycle that has been keeping you from getting help. Tell them what you need from them. Maybe they could drive you to an appointment. Maybe they can attend your appointment and advocate for you. Or maybe they can just be there to talk to you and remind you of the importance of treatment when you've forgotten.

Write Yourself a Letter

And you can also write yourself a letter. When you know you need treatment, write a letter to your future self, reminding them of the pain you are experiencing today. Remind yourself of the symptoms and why you need help. So that later, you can read that letter and let your own words convince you. Maybe someone in your support network can keep that letter for you so that it's always on hand when you need it.

Outthink Your Brain

Basically, your brain is sick and it's giving you bad advice sometimes. So you need to understand that, anticipate it and outthink it. Which you can do. But it often involves the help outside your brain.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2011, October 17). How Do I Convince Myself To Get Help for Mental Illness?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleX, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

Madam Bipolar (@SawHole)
October, 18 2011 at 1:14 pm

This is a good article. It took me a long time to get a diagnosis and as you said my brain was sick and it was messing with me. The biggest issue for me has been getting a diagnosis and the right help, which is why in Australia the average time from first episode to diagnosis is 10 years.
I just had no idea to fix the situation.

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