By Craig Booker
May 16, 2024

Share your brain health struggle

Sharing brain health struggles can lead to essential support, reduced stigma, and early issue detection.

Going through brain health challenges can be one of the most challenging seasons a person will face. When it comes to brain health or mental health challenges, sadly, people tend to keep the details to themselves. As humans, whether at work or at home, we struggle to ask for help. Instead of opening up, we suffer in silence, keeping the struggle to ourselves. 

I have my reasons. We all do. We fear trusting people, being judged, being a burden, or being vulnerable. We fear disappointing people and are sometimes slow to recognize our need for help.

We falsely believe we must protect our image. We tell ourselves to “be strong” or “toughen up” without realizing that one of the most courageous things we can do is to ask for help. Past negative experiences cause us to assume the worst and not allow others to prove us wrong. And so the battle in our minds ensues.

When we keep things to ourselves, there are three things we accomplish. By staying quiet, we further isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. Next, instead of sharing our burden with a friend, we chose to bear our burden all by ourselves. Lastly, when we refuse to share, we limit our options for help.

If this last paragraph has you feeling down, I get it. I’ve been that person. I intimately know the consequences of choosing to keep brain pain to myself. Instead of sulking in this place, I want to offer five reasons we should flip the script and share our brain health struggles with others.

5 reasons to share your struggle

  1. Getting Support
  2. Reducing Stigma
  3. Catching Issues Early
  4. Alleviating Stress
  5. Preventing crises

Getting support

First and foremost, choosing to share opens up options for getting the support you need. We all like the idea of being self-made. We don’t want to need anyone, but the truth is that we need other people. Whether introverted or extroverted, having proper support in your life is healthy. We increase our options when we are open with even one other individual. 

Reducing stigma

Beyond our desire to be self-sufficient, we loathe the idea of others looking down on us or treating us differently because of our health. Sharing even a little about our struggle opens up options for support and creates a world where it’s okay to not be okay. Our vulnerability helps us and has the potential to help others, too.

Catching issues early

One of the benefits of voicing the challenges you are facing is preventing issues from escalating. In many cases, brain health challenges might not get out of control, but it only takes one to derail a person or threaten their life. I’m not advocating sharing with everyone, but we should share with someone. Who you choose is up to you, but find someone you can trust.

Alleviating stress

We all experience stress. There’s positive stress (eustress) and negative stress, also known as distress. Think of positive stress as circumstances or events that are challenging but manageable. This could be starting a new job, preparing for a speech, or going on a date. Eustress can lead to better performance or a sense of accomplishment.

Distress is often perceived as harmful or might make a person feel overwhelmed. It stems from exceeding a person’s ability to cope in a healthy manner. This can result in feelings of anxiety, helplessness, and frustration. Repetitive exposure to distress can have detrimental effects on a person’s health.

Learning to share vulnerable feelings surrounding mental health can provide just the outlet a person needs to relieve distress. It creates a safe space where a person can process events and circumstances. It also allows others to share the weight of your burdens, relieving pressure.

Preventing crises

As I stated earlier, not all struggles with brain health will end with tragedy. I want to point out how healthy it is to have regular support. Having one or more people to confide in creates an environment where people feel seen and heard. This community allows a group of trusted people to speak into our lives and look out for our best interests. Should something arise, our community will be there to see the warning signs and assist us in getting the help we need.

After reading all this, you might say, “That’s great, Craig, but I just don’t have people I can trust like that.” I understand. It takes time and intentionality to form relationships. Even if you have friends or other relationships, it is terrifying to share what you are feeling. What if your friends reject you after sharing? What if they say nothing, and it is awkward?

It’s worth the risk

I’ve had the privilege of experiencing brain health challenges in both scenarios. I know what it is to keep it to myself and try to bear the weight myself. I also know what it is like to have the blessing of community. My short answer is that it is worth the risk.

My take

Since you are still reading, I will also tell you how incredible it is to have someone to share life with. I’m not talking about a romantic relationship. Those are great, but I am talking about a community of people who are not scared off when life gets messy—people who have your back and are willing to listen without an agenda.

If you or someone you know struggles with brain health challenges, I encourage you to get plugged into a community. Seek out help from a counselor, psychologist, doctor, or pastor. Do not continue to suffer in silence.

If you or someone you know is in a crisis, dial 988 if you are in the U.S. or contact your local emergency services line.

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About Craig Booker

Craig Booker is the founder of Overflow, a community for anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges. He is a freelance writer and mental health advocate. Craig is an Edmond native with a bachelor's degree in Business Management from the University of Central Oklahoma. He is passionate about creating a safe space where people can be authentic, knowing they will find love, acceptance, and encouragement. Craig hosts a weekly podcast called, The Overflow Podcast," where he talks about mental health and personal growth. In each episode, Craig shares practical ways to positively impact mental health.