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I hate rushing and I hate being late. This isn’t new for me — in fact, I’ve always been this way. Even when I was in high school, I would always leave myself a full hour to wake up, shower, slowly drink a coffee while getting ready and then inevitably still race out the door to avoid being late for roll call.

As an adult, that translates to me allowing extra time to snooze my alarm in the morning and often driving places instead of catching public transport because I refuse to rush the getting ready process. Unfortunately, I’ve also applied this mentality to everything I do.

When I graduated from high school, I went straight into uni. After uni, I got a job ASAP. I did all the “right” things, and because I was young for my grade at school, I was kicking goals early. So, you can imagine the loop I was thrown for when I decided to change careers completely at 24 and turned up in a brand new industry feeling behind the eight ball and, well, late. Very, very late.

See, this mentality — of always showing up early but never rushing — can bleed into every aspect of your life. That’s my experience, anyway. It can make you feel like something bad that’s happened shouldn’t be affecting you so much, that you should have gotten your shit together a long time ago, or that things that happened when you were younger shouldn’t still be weighing on your mind.

When you constantly feel like you’re not getting over things quickly enough, it can make you feel like you’re always late or a step behind — and yes, that applies to dealing with your mental health struggles, too. That means, when you find yourself having a wobbly and can’t figure out how to pull yourself out of it, it can feel a lot like failure.

But there’s something I want you to keep in mind the next time you feel like this: You’re not supposed to know how to deal with everything that happens in life on your own. That doesn’t mean that you can’t (or won’t) deal with it, but it may mean you need a little bit of help.

Reaching out to a professional (a free and anonymous resource like Kids Helpline is a fantastic place to start) is an important tool we can all take advantage of and it can have huge benefits. At different times in our lives, we all need someone to sift through our brain and help us make sense of it all.

Here’s the real clincher: You deserve to get the help you need. You’re not late in figuring it all out. You’re definitely not failing, and yes, you can overcome your mental health struggles. But no, it might not happen within your tightly-planned timeframe.

I am the queen of putting time limits on myself — as I said before, it’s kind of my thing. My inner monologue simply lives for an arbitrary time limit for when I *should* have reached this specific goal/done this thing/sorted my life out/achieved peak existence. What I try to remember though, is that those time limits actually don’t exist out here in the real world, they’re actually just all in my head.

That doesn’t mean they don’t have very real-world ramifications for our mental health, but making yourself feel guilty for not being perfect is unhelpful. In fact, the sooner we stop putting time limits on “fixing” our mental health, the better.

Like you, I’m still learning. I don’t have the answers. But I do know this: there’s no time limit on “fixing” your mental health. Sometimes we need to see a professional or call a service like Kids Helpline (they can help anyone up to the age of 25) to metaphorically hold your hand as you navigate through the weeds.

Click here for support if you’re over 25.

Image: HBO