For many years I tried to convince myself that there is no problem in my life I cannot handle with God’s help. Do I have negative feelings? Virtue is the ability to ignore feelings and to do what is right in spite of feelings. Do little things bother me more than they should? I may have a short temper, but with the virtue of self-control I can swallow my anger and not act inappropriately in public.
Unfortunately, I am not Spock. After a trying two years, I finally told my family doctor how I really feel. Now for several months I have been taking anti-depressants and seeing a counselor. For the first time I am starting to see that those fits of anger—which made me want to rave like Basil Fawlty of Fawlty Towers—were actually attacks of anxiety. For the first time I am starting to accept that depression is not a normal part of life that every person handles his or her own way.
Even as I accept this help and try to make progress, though, my anxious mind says to me, “You only think you have problems. You’ve heard of anxiety and depression and you have become a hypochondriac. You are merely pretending to need help because of the attention it draws to you, and because now you have excuses to misbehave.”
Moreover, my anxious mind tells me, “Other people really have these problems that you only think you have. They cannot handle situations where you are able to swallow your fear or your anger and move forward. You are taking up the time of professional people who should be free to help the people who really need their help.”
Fortunately, the Vulcan half of my mind is able to respond to this thought. “Is it normal to pretend to have problems? Is it normal to seek help when one is not sick? If one imagines one has problems and needs help, is it not true that one has problems and needs help?”
Some people imagine an angel and a demon sitting on their two shoulders whispering into their two ears, one urging good behavior and one suggesting bad behavior. As I write this post, I suddenly picture myself with Mr. Spock at one shoulder and Basil Fawlty at the other shoulder, each telling me I should be more like them.
In this blog I have not requested comments before, but I would appreciate some input on this question: Am I the only person with mental or emotional distress who thinks I might be faking my problems? Am I the only one who feels guilty for seeking help, as if the help I seek is something I don’t really need? I very much desire some sense of how common this experience is. (The comment box is way, way down at the bottom of the screen.)