How to Know If You Need Professional Help - Erin's Inside Job

How to Know If You Need Professional Help

I can be a very stubborn person.

It took me years to be able to admit that I was wrong about something. I would try to say it, but mentally something blocked my mouth from voicing the words. It was an extremely weird feeling — like trying to break through a brick wall that my mind had erected right in front of my mouth.

The three hardest things I’ve had to deal with, and ultimately with professional help, have been my addiction, my issues with eating, and my mental health.

I didn’t jump on the therapy bandwagon or immediately check myself into rehab; I finally reached a point where I couldn’t fix the problem and I realized if I couldn’t fix it, someone else would have to help me. Knowing what I know now, I’m more likely to get help earlier than later, but it took awhile for me to get to that point.

Certainly not everyone needs professional help, but if it’s a thought that’s ever crossed your mind, take a look at the following points and see if you can identify with them.

It's not a bad thing. Here are some tips on when you may need professional help.

1. The problem is persistent

I finally went to therapy because Neil and I were having the same issues and it had reached a point where we didn’t know what to do anymore. I went to therapy as an individual and with him as a couple. It was through therapy that I identified my long battle with depression and anxiety (and owned it) and dealt with a lot of the things that I was trying to reason away or deal with on my own.

Once Neil and I decided not to separate, I still continued therapy for a time. Life is going pretty well, but I know that as soon as something comes up I can’t handle, I have a place to go. Starting medication showed me that these issues had been permeating much of my life and shaping a lot of my thoughts and behaviors. It was no longer a struggle every day to get up and complete normal adult activities.

If you’re constantly experiencing the same negative issues and unable to resolve them on your own, ask yourself what your next step should be.

2. You can’t stop the behavior

The issue where this is the most glaring is my addiction. Obviously I knew that it was a problem and that I physically couldn’t stop, but it took me a long time to admit that I didn’t have things under control. Prior to one of my court dates, I quit cold turkey because I knew that there was a chance I could be drug tested when I arrived. I made it about three days and then the night before I was supposed to be in court, I frantically tracked down drugs, even knowing that everything was on the line.

I’m a smart person. It was obvious that this was something I couldn’t stop on my own and although I was 95% sure that I needed professional help, it took a little more beating up for me to actually seek it out.

If you’re struggling with anything that you want to stop but can’t, this is a big indication that you might need someone outside yourself to help you in that process.

3. It’s making your life unmanageable

My issues with food slowly started to take over my life and my thoughts. I denied myself anything sweet and even stopped eating dried fruit when Neil harmlessly commented on the amount of sugar they had. I read food menus before going out to make sure I could eat something healthy. I was sad at night when I couldn’t eat any more snacks. I was exercising more than was necessary for the amount of food I was eating. Everything surrounding food and exercise was warped and took away from enjoying life.

I realized that being sad about not eating in the evening wasn’t normal behavior. I reached out to people who I knew would be able to help me and simply talking about the issue helped me work on resolving it. Ask yourself how life is going. If you feel things are starting to get unmanageable, it may be time to reach out.

4. Others have shown concern

Concern can come from anywhere — work, friends, family, or your significant other. Have you received more than one comment about how you’re doing or concern for your appearance or behavior? One off-handed comment may not be a reason for concern, but if you start hearing the same things, it might be an indication that something is wrong.

Towards the end of my addiction I had almost completely isolated myself. Comments from my friends when we would hang out and drink had become so regular that in order to avoid them, I avoided the people altogether. Don’t dismiss feedback you get from outside sources — it just might be the thing you need to hear to get some help.

Final Thoughts

Not every issue is as catastrophic as addiction or suicidal thoughts; I simply used examples I was familiar with. Involving a professional in getting through a situation or dealing with an issue doesn’t have to be scary. It can seem that way if you’re like I was with a brick wall in front of your mouth and unable to say three simple words, but you’re going to have to find a way to either knock it down or crawl over in order to get better.

I love therapy. I think it is magical. I don’t understand the hesitance to have someone help you get better instead of sitting in suffering. Maybe it’s because now I can admit when I’m wrong (kind of) or because I broke myself down so far that there was literally no way to stand up without someone else helping me. I think it’s an incredible service and I wish that everyone would take advantage of it much more than they do.

Don’t be proud. Don’t be stubborn. In the end, the only person this hurts is you. It’s ok to admit that you can’t do everything on your own and you need some help. Once you let go of that control, life becomes a lot easier.



  • If you’ve had professional help (and want to share), what was your experience?

Thanks to Amanda for letting me think out loud.

31 comments on “How to Know If You Need Professional Help

    1. Yes the enabling is such a tricky piece. You want to help them bc you care but you may really need to step away and let them fail in order to get better.

  1. Thank you for writing this! So, so much! I am a school psychologist and licensed professional counselor and for so long in my life I resisted therapy because I thought that I was supposed to be the helper and healer who had it all together. When I realized some of my problems were persistent, I was having recurring negative thoughts, and I needed/wanted to take better care of myself and value myself, I went to therapy. IT IS THE BEST!! I think all humans can benefit from it. Thank you again for putting this message out there.

    1. People can help others the best when they’re able to get help themselves! Therapy is so helpful if you let it be. Thanks for reading Mollie!

  2. Admitting that I need help especially when struggling with some intense bouts of sadness and depression, has been so hard, but my parents are a HUGE gift from God when it comes to counsel and advice. They have been always understanding, never demeaning, and always pointing me back to the truth. I can be so stubborn when it comes to asking for help, but God knows that I need my parents for those wise counselors to keep pointing me back to the truth of Jesus. Thank you for this Erin. <3
    Emily recently posted…WIAW: Why I’m Content with My Stocky BodyMy Profile

  3. So much love for this. I had some really bad anxiety before giving birth that I couldn’t deal with myself. Therapy was incredibly helpful for me as I dealt with that anxiety, and I learned some coping mechanisms that I used during my C section, which I was terrified about. Getting professional help really does make a difference.
    Beth recently posted…Peanut Butter Banana Overnight OatsMy Profile

    1. Oh I’m so glad you were able to get help. I’m scared just thinking of having a baby so I’ll prob be right there in the same boat haha. Help makes all the difference!

  4. So important to get this message out there that therapy and support can help anyone and everyone. I wish more people took advantage of the support and space! Thanks for sharing this. I love it!

  5. My ex and I went to counselling, but mental health was never something that was discussed, and I think that was a disservice to both of us. Who knows if things would have turned out differently, but I do wish the therapist would have been more in tune, or asked different questions instead of merely focusing on communication.
    Ange // Cowgirl Runs recently posted…‘Bye January! My Recap of January GoalsMy Profile

    1. Yeah that can be tough. I was glad that they mentioned that we should prob see people individually as well

  6. SUCH an important post, Erin. I hope anyone who’s struggling right now will be able to help themselves. When I was threatened to be kicked out of college because I was so thin, THAT’S when I finally accepted that I needed help for my eating disorder. My nutritionist was wonderful! Sure, being weighed every week sucked, but I knew I had to do it otherwise I’d be in serious trouble. It was definitely a scary step, but SO worth it!!
    Marina @ A Dancer’s Live-It recently posted…5 Things “Intuitive Eating” Has Taught Me So FarMy Profile

  7. I saw an individual therapist a few years ago. I knew I was unhappy, and I felt like I couldn’t deal with it all on my own. I found it very helpful to have an unbiased outside party to talk to. My husband and I also tried couples therapy but it wasn’t very helpful for us at the time (we were still very closed off from each other, and in some cases, still unaware of some of our needs). We have since continued to grow, together thankfully, and work through some of those issues successfully on our own. As you know, a close friend of mine is currently in rehab, which has been a long time coming, but it’s been the financial concern and having to put his life on hold, that held him back. But he knows this is what he needs and hopefully it sticks.
    Maggie Wolff recently posted…Three Things ThursdayMy Profile

  8. Absolutely agree with all of this. My husband is a therapist so I’ve always supported mental health causes, but it wasn’t until I could barely focus at work and received a letter from my worried and (justifiably) frustrated husband that I finally admitted I needed professional help with my anxiety/depression. Now my only regret is not doing it sooner.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Catherine @ A Cup of Catherine recently posted…Life Lessons Learned from FitnessMy Profile

  9. I am really really good at pinpointing my problems (if I ever have them) and knowing that something is wrong, before anything gets bad. I really have to thank my parents for this because the way they brought me up has really created me to be a very of sound mind girl — sure I might be weird, quirky, loud, bubbly and out going, but when it comes down to it, I am very level-headed and can help myself first, before anything gets bad.
    GiGi Eats recently posted…Check Out My Baskets!My Profile

  10. It came to the point for me where I just knew I couldn’t tackle this problem on my own anymore. I think there is no shame in getting professional help at all- I couldn’t have been where I am today without that help!

  11. Another courageous and insightful post Erin. I remember it took me years to admit my issues with addiction and anxiety but once I finally took advice and went to therapy it made a world of difference. Just talking out loud to someone and getting out of my own head was invaluable.

  12. Another courageous and insightful post, Erin. iI remember it took me years to admit my issues with addiction and anxiety but once I finally took advice and went to therapy it made a world of difference. Just talking out loud to someone and getting out of my own head was invaluable.

  13. It’s never easy admitting that a problem is beyond your abilities to fix. But whether they admit it or not, everyone at times has problems that are bigger than themselves and we all need help sometimes. Thanks for encouraging those who are struggling.

  14. Really glad you wrote this article, Erin. It’s especially timely right now with the celebrity suicides in the news. It’s important to take away the stigma of mental health treatment. Therapy is such a rewarding process!

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