It’s a strange one is counselling. It’s a place where you go and completely spill the contents of your head to a complete stranger who you can only hope is not going to stare at you like you’ve got three eyes and a wooden leg by the time you’re finished talking.
Good news, counselling isn’t anything like that. Four days ago I completed my sixth session with my therapist and now I have a two week break as she’s on holiday and I won’t lie, I feel a little nervous but also really keen to see how I get on going it completely solo for a couple of weeks.
Counselling for me was a no-brainer after Christmas and New Year when I felt like my anxiety was controlling me and I wasn’t controlling it anymore, so I decided to do something about it and found a lovely therapist jusy five minutes down the road who can see me after work.
The first thing I’ll say about my journey is that it’s a slow one. I’ve had years of ‘managing’ my anxiety myself without any professional help and in that time I’ve probably developed a ton of unhealthy habits and routines that I continued to use for managing my mental illness so I always knew it was going to take a long time to unpick and unravel the knot that had formed in my mind – but we’re getting there.
The first few sessions my therapist spent getting to know me, we spoke in particular about an event last year that I feel brought my anxiety back to the surface again. We spent three sessions on that event and worked our way through it piece by piece and as each week went by I felt a little lighter. By the time we’d worked our way through that issue we mutually agreed that we had spent enough time and energy on it and I finally felt as though I had closure to a situation that had caused me lot of pain and heartache for months.
The problem was that my anxiety didn’t dissipate instantly following that closure, it’s so deep-rooted that I can’t switch it on or off as anyone with a mental illness will know. It’s there and sometimes it’s quiet and shuts up and let’s me live my life and other times it doesn’t.
Counselling has helped me to manage those difficult days. It provides me with a validation and reassurance that I so desperately needed and that only a professional can provide. It made me realise my thoughts and feelings are valid and even though they’re not pleasant and I want to work towards banishing them as much as I can I felt as though someone finally got me.
Don’t get me wrong, there have been the odd day where I’ve left counselling feeling exhausted because you know, trawling through the inner workings of your mind can be knackering but I’ve never left a session feeling heavier or more negatively than I did when I walked in.
The one mistake I made before when I had counselling a few years ago was giving up when I felt ‘better’ – even if I’m having a good day now I still take myself off to my session as there’s always something to work through and to improve upon and I know that realistically I’ll probably continue attending for quite a long time. Even if i reduce my sessions to once fortnightly or even once a month, it’s 50 minutes where I’m grounded and can focus on myself.
Counselling is something we should all do for ourselves if we feel we need it – a lot of us spend so much time focusing on other people; on work, on kids etc but sometimes we need to physically allocate time in our diaries for ourselves and counselling is just that.