I recently Googled “mental health blogs” and found plenty of people who have been living with mental illness for most of their lives who are sharing their stories https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/best-blogs-of-the-year#1. I am grateful that they felt comfortable to share these important messages. Their experiences were moving, and I am sure they have helped many people through tough times, but I couldn’t help but wonder about the number of people who don’t share, who keep quiet. More and more people are now talking about mental health, but at the same time there are also those that have turned away from counselling or therapy because they felt that they were not “fitting the mould” of a what a client/patient “should look like”. I’ve heard people make comments like, “I’m not that bad” or “ counselling is for people with severe problems”. And thus, many people go on without ever taking that important step to find support. Then moving through life without getting insight and guidance from a trained professional. This is a misconception because every person will suffer at least some distress in their life. But sometimes people have gone through it alone, later realising that it is too much to handle. There is still a stigma around mental health and thankfully more is being done to promote the wellbeing of individuals, the work environment, and our communities at large. This makes it more mainstream to talk about, and show a genuine interest in mental wellbeing. But there are still plenty of people who don’t find help, to those people I would say that counselling is not just for people right on the edge, it can help people at any stage, and it is important to take the time to heal your mind before issues become bigger and harder to deal with. It can be off-putting to consider whether you need support, but in seeking out a professional, you’ll be taking that important first step. If you think you might need mental health support, it is good to think about the best approach, but in my view, it is more about finding the right professional than it is questioning whether you need support at all.
I have been to therapy on several occasions throughout my life - I’ll share my experiences in different entries because each was unique, and can provide a different insight into the world of mental health counselling.
Turning the clock back to my earliest encounter with mental health services. The first time I went to counselling I had no idea how to address my needs. It was hard enough struggling with my
emotions, let alone reaching out for help. There were so many parts to think about, from knowing how to look for a therapist, or wondering if I was just wasting time and money. I felt so lost and overwhelmed that I thought maybe it wasn’t even worth the trouble. It was one thing for me to study counselling and train to be a therapist, another to be seeking help myself. However, this is something many have to do without any knowledge whatsoever.
Somehow I could justify spending £60 out on a Friday night at the pub, but coughing-up that much for counselling seemed excessive.
I had to take a step back and look at the situation through a more positive lens. I was seeking professional help for something I knew was becoming unbearable. I was doing a good thing for myself, I couldn’t make any judgements about what therapy was or wasn’t before actually experiencing it. I had to do my homework: ask questions to those who had attended, Google my curiosities, and have a little courage.
Yet, I was not expecting what happened next. I found someone who had the right expertise and was able to accommodate my schedule. A small step, but just making initial contact and setting up the first appointment alone relieved some of my stress and made me feel hopeful.
This was the start of my journey, nevertheless, was an important first step on the way to building a better environment for my mental health.