It is not in my nature to ask for help. I am a proud person and I believe that I can do most things by myself. I also have an irrational fear that asking for help somehow puts me in a position where I am lower or weaker and someone else can take advantage of me or hurt me. I therefore do it very infrequently.
At the same time, I am amazed and inspired by people who do ask for help, especially when they truly need it. These people impress me. If they do this, it means that they are very secure, very able to step forward and admit that yes, this is too hard for me, and I need someone else. These people have learned how to self-assess and how to admit that someone else's aid would be appreciated. They don't fear censure or any kind of look from another person. These people are, to some extent, my heroes.
I am telling you, no, I am begging you, to ask for help when you need it. It doesn't matter the severity or urgency of the request; just do it, the worst that can happen is that someone will say no! And if that person says no, I am telling you that there is someone else who is willing to listen and who will say yes. There are enough people in this world for there to be good ones who truly want to help if it is at all possible. This is important.
If you need help with a project, with homework, with something difficult that is going on in your life- do not be afraid of asking for help. It does not make you the lesser. I protested having any kind of tutor in math all my life. I saw this as making me stupid; I felt that having a tutor would make me seem like I was an idiot. I would not repeat this behavior now. I understand now the value of asking for and accepting help, regardless of the way it makes me feel.
The stigma that is associated with asking for or receiving help in the Orthodox world is deeply upsetting to me. Many people have told me that the reason they do not ask for psychiatric help is because they are afraid it will ruin their chances to have a decent shidduch. I find it deeply upsetting that people would refrain from this because of marriage. You are important. You come first. What you need comes before whatever it is you are supposed to be doing to make your family happy, to make others happy. Your well-being, your mental health, is necessary before you can even begin to embark upon any kind of successful and fulfilling relationship, such as a marriage.
So please do not be afraid of asking for help. Ask the people who have the skills, time and desire to help you. If you need support, ask for it. There are those who will be glad to give it to you. I find that once people realize they actually do need help with something, their first step is to ask someone who they know will accept them unconditionally, who will not judge them. I know this because I have been in such a position, for some see me as such a person. This is an important first step, finding a person whom you trust. But it is not the only step. There are people who are more skilled than I am, people who have been trained to provide this help, and they are the next step. You don't have to give up the person you trust in order to see them; it is not that you must proceed onward to them; you can have both. But sometimes something is too big for you to go it alone. Sometimes you are so important that I or people like me are worried lest it perhaps happen that we are not there at the right time one day, and that is why you must, must find people who can always be there.
Because you matter to us; you matter to me. If you trust me, then you must go it one further; you must tell others beyond me and make sure they are the kind who truly understand. Please do not be afraid of asking for help; you will receive it. You are a deserving and good person; why should people deny you what you ask? I understand that it is difficult if you have had bad experiences with this in the past and especially difficult within the confines of our talkative Orthodox Jewish community. I am asking you to put this aside, even if it seems impossible. I am telling you to forget the Orthodox Jewish community for a while. Damn them, if you must. But do what is best for you, regardless of what it means for shidduchim, what it means for your family. Health and one's mental health is a serious matter; it is extremely important that people feel comfortable asking for help- and that they receive it, hopefully in a very private, confidential, kind and beautiful way.
Sometimes you do not feel that you are deserving. I understand this; I wake up every morning and think I am living a dream. I do not deserve the good that I have in my life. But I promise you that you do. You deserve better than whatever it is you have at the moment, whatever half-existence prompts you to lie and fake your way through the day, the many masks you wear, the way that you have to pretend to please whomever it may be when you are dying inside. Whoever you are, you are a human being; you have a human being's dignity. You deserve far better than this. You deserve to be acknowledged and to be helped; you deserve people who are willing to listen and who will accept you. And such people do exist.
So we will join together, you and I, in our new initiative- to ask for help when we need it, no matter how hard or difficult it may be at first. Because there are some things that are simply too important for us to risk losing. And you are one of them.