Part of this year I had a dark season where I felt very low and alone and I did something I have never done before, I got help and went to a counsellor. We had weekly one hour sessions where I would just talk about everything I was going through, everything that was running through my mind, and hence force giving clarity to how I was feeling. It was not one event or person who led to me seeking this help but rather an accumulation of events throughout the year.
Sometimes your emotions can be a lot to deal with, especially if you’re feeling a plethora of conflicting emotions. I’m someone who feels things very deeply, I always have and I think I always will and I really like that part of my personality as it means I can daydream over the rainbow and experience the most wondrous highs. But the achilles heel of this means that when I’m upset, I’m profoundly upset and it’s difficult for me to ignore. I wear my heart on my sleeve, I’m an open book and I’m an absolute terrible liar. All these things mean that rocky patches can be extremely strenuous and this year when I was feeling low, I said to myself that I didn’t have to and I shouldn’t have to feel like this so I contacted a local counsellor and made an appointment.
In my first session I started crying as soon as I walked in the door and didn’t really stop for the whole hour. I guess actually stepping into that counselling room felt extremely overwhelming and meant I had come head first with how I was feeling and acknowledging the ache I was feeling on my heart. If you don’t say something out loud there’s a sense that it doesn’t exist but for the first time I was about to speak about everything to someone who was a complete stranger. However, I was surprised with how comfortable I felt so quickly.
I find it odd looking back to think that Rachel (my counsellor) knows more about me than most people I know, yet I know virtually nothing about her own life. I guess it’s easier to talk to someone about how you’re feeling when they’re removed from the situation. Furthermore, I found her extremely easy to talk to you and I felt completely comfortable there.
I only had sessions for a couple months but the transformation was astounding; through talking about everything I was thinking and giving my thoughts space to be valid and heard, allowed me to acknowledge them, feel them and then gracefully move on from them. As Ariana said, thank u next.
After having had the sessions I have so much more clarity in terms of what I want and deserve from myself and my friendships, what I value in life, putting my needs first and standing up for myself when appropriate. In my last session we reflected on my time and I said I felt truly liberated with all that I had learnt about myself and I now feel so much more comfortable in my own skin and in my choices.
When I first went no one knew apart from my Mum and I’m still not entirely sure why I told no one, I guess it’s an echo of the point made previously that once you say something out loud, it becomes that more real. I think also because I didn’t have a medically diagnosed mental illness, I thought people would judge and think I was weird for going to counselling and I didn’t have sufficient reason to. But please know, people go to counselling for all sorts of reasons, just because you’re not suicidal does not mean you are not justified in seeking help. If you had a broken leg would you say “well it doesn’t need to be amputated so it’ll be fine, I won’t go to the doctor”, or would you go to A&E and deal with the problem?
I knew deep down in my heart that my friends would understand but that fear of being judged or questioned is hard to shake off. Shaking it off isn’t as easy as Taylor implied.
For anyone in Exeter wanting to know the logistics about where I went for this counselling, I went to The Practice Rooms (https://thepracticerooms.co.uk/find-a-therapist/search in town which is right next to TP (big lol when my sessions were on a Thursday morning after Wednesday TP). My counsellor was Rachel Adams and I would highly recommend her. I chose to go privately as the waiting list for the university counselling support was around a 7-week waiting list and I am, gratefully, in the financial position to pay for sessions.
Going to counselling really was the best decision I have made this year as it has done wonders for my mind, my self-esteem and my life as a whole.
If you’re in a storm, it does not have to last forever, you can get help but you have to want to help yourself. Treat yourself with kindness and give yourself the support you deserve, sometimes that’s as simple as having a bath and sometimes that’s admitting you need some help.
I cried in my first session because I felt so lost in myself. I cried after my last session because I felt found again. If that isn’t character development, I don’t know what is.
Love, Alice xxx