So, this is my first post of 2020 and my first post in absolutely ages… I sort of lost momentum, motivation, and inspiration as myself and my ex broke up in October and it hit me pretty hard.
However, here I am. Still fighting, still pushing, and feeling ready to take lots of good steps forward.
6 months of counselling, and what it taught me
So, in August 2019 I started counselling as I had previous mental health issues which I had pushed really hard to improve over the course of 3 years or so.
Whilst I hadn’t hit another point where I felt critically unwell, I felt that there were things I hadn’t explored, parts of me/my personality/my processes that I needed to understand a bit better and just generally a few things I wanted to address with the help of a professional.
Now, I am a talker. And anyone that knows me will tell you that. However, I was skeptical about talking to a total stranger, who would be unbiased and un-apologetically honest, about my life and my issues.
Yet, leaving the final session in February I felt sort of free-er, happier and cried with relief as I got back in my car and drove to work. I loved counselling, and I love psychology and understanding how our experiences or genetic make up impact our responses to things – so it was something I’m so glad I did.
Whilst the whole experience was hard at times, turbulent and a huge learning curve there are some key things I took away from it.
1. I need to focus on the now, like really focus
I have a problem, in that my mind obsesses both on past moments but also on the future. Rather than thinking “okay, today this is happening and let’s just get through the day” I will either obsess about things that could happen in the future (thankfully, these are usually positive) but also about things that have happened or have been said or done.
This ultimately is not a good thing. Whilst looking forward has positives and gives things to look forward to, in some cases I really think it was making me a bit neurotic when things didn’t seem like they were going towards that idealistic future I had imagined.
I would lose sleep, panic, obsess, write lists, work things out, and play things over and over in my head. And whilst this ultimately came from parts of my past being far from this idealistic image I had and me wanting better or more, I learnt during counselling that I really need to focus on what I have now and my life now, rather than worrying about next year or the year after.
It’s the same with clinging onto the past. This is still something that causes me a lot of pain and can be exhausting trying to tame – but I’m trying to focus on now, and remember that I cannot control the past any longer.
2. It’s okay to be selfish, to an extent
In sessions I’d often ask “is that bad?!” or “is it bad that I think that?” or “is it bad that I feel like that?” – the answer? No.
Whilst being a dick to people is not advised, especially those you love, there are some times when you just have to look after yourself and tell people if they’ve hurt you or annoyed you or if you just need some time off. This was something I’d wanted to say to people before because I needed to say how I felt, but rarely actually did it.
And when I did? I immediately felt better.
Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t go around telling people to do one or being horrible. I was just a bit more forthcoming in saying “you know what, no that’s not okay” or “sorry, not today, I don’t feel good”.
3. I am not insane
You know what the most relieving part of counselling was? I am not mental. I am not insane. I am just unique in my genetic make up, my emotional balances and my past experiences – all which contribute to my state of mind and my reactions or methods.
I think although we know that so many people in the World have some form of mental illness, or have been impacted by life events such as a trauma for example, sometimes you do just think “Fuck. Am I broken, am I mental, am I the problem?”
For me counselling allowed me to connect dots and understand so many things and so many people, that even now when I listen to people’s stories I think “ah, this explains your reaction to such and such”.
Counselling showed me that we all react differently to different experiences or events and that is part of being human. It doesn’t mean that you are the problem or that your ex is the problem, it just means that everyone has their own coping mechanisms and their own triggers.
So many people are worried about going to counselling because of what it might stir up, or because they might come across as being vulnerable or mental. But that’s really not what it’s about. I went in with quite an open mind, but also with a list of things I thought needed to be approached and delved into – and Sharon helped me explore that more than I could have imagined but she also showed me that I’m SO SO not mental.
I think counselling really helped me come to terms with some things, and it also helped me to develop myself and gave me some more confidence in myself. I would loved to have carried on to just let her pick at my mind more, but it was not financially viable long-term (although private counselling is often much better than NHS and my sessions only cost £35) and I felt that we had covered a lot and that I needed to take what we’d worked on and own it.
So please, if you’ve ever considered counselling – do it. Even if you have no history of mental illness, it is so so worth it.