Counselling is a very touchy subject with me.
I used to think counselling was something that people would do if they were really troubled. I suppose you can say i labelled it from what i had heard, like everyone does with everything. I mean you get told something bad and usually that sticks in your mind, the good somewhat seems to get discarded. I was uneducated on it all. My view has since changed.
I went through counselling, for two years in fact.
At first it started with medication, the simple medication wasn’t making even close to an effect on me and as I was under 18 there was no way they were going to allow me to take stronger medication (as they said) so they put me in touch with the wellbeing team.
Now some of you might not be aware of wellbeing so let me explain for you. Wellbeing are a team of people who provide a local service to people who suffer mental health issues, mainly anxiety and depression however they often include themselves into different areas around. The people that are put in touch with these are often classed as “low riskers” and people they try to help get control of their illness before it controls them, self-help. Now with these counselling sessions I felt like the downfall was you only got so many sessions before they either signed you off or they decided if you needed more “higher risk” help. This often meant things were rushed and progress was somewhat forced upon us like it was something we had no option other than to do.
Now when I first started counselling if im being completely honest my anxiety was to me, mild. It didn’t affect me in a way i was aware of because i had almost convinced myself that the life i had set up around my anxiety was a healthy life, that it was the life i wanted to live so in a way these counselling sessions did help me in the fact they made me realise i had an issue, other than that i felt somewhat cheated by the whole thing. Now im aware they can’t spend very long with each person because they’re busy people but when i got the letter through with the information i needed i was told that the sessions would be at least 30 minutes but at a push they were 10. I would walk in there, be made to fill out a questionnaire (shown below) and then asked about a goal and then leave.
I would like to point out that whilst the top half of the questions are the exact ones asked the bottom are not, as this is just an example. I do have my own personal ones if people want to know exactly what they look like but as they are filled out I don’t feel confident posting them.
Other then the questionnaire I was giving a short booklet on self-help and told to read them and do them so many times a day with no real guidance on how they were to be done correctly (if you are interested in a blog post on the different self-help methods let me know!) so i had the extra panic of being put on the spot to do them to then be pinpointed for all the different things i was doing wrong. This is how every counselling session went and if anything i felt more trapped. I was being what i felt like forced to do something without any real support behind me doing it. I wish i could be 100% sure on whether it was because i myself didn’t have the right knowledge to know what was there in front of me or not but i cant. It eventually got to the last sessions and I felt some sort of relief in the hope that i could hide back into the little hole i had created, this wasnt the case. I was moved up to the most severe level of counselling.
He was great. Not on the counselling side but more on the understanding side I felt like I could joke around and be sort of myself around him. His name was Pete, Isebrooke hospital in Northamptonshire if anyone is on the look out for some help with understanding.
I would sit there for an hour every week being taught all these things I didn’t know about myself and my mental illness, he made me aware of so many different things I didn’t know. I was taught about triggers and how my brain worked different from someone who didnt have a mental health issue. I was taught the self-help methods but also how to use them correctly. I remember one session where we spent the whole time learning to breathe for longer through a straw whilst talking about a tv show we both watched. Sound silly? Apparently the whole reason we’re not able to breathe through a straw for a long amount of time is because our body fools us into thinking we’re not getting enough oxygen when in fact we’re getting more than enough if not more than we need it’s just the thought that causes us to panic and suddenly gasp for air. I went from being able to breathe through a 3 straws for 10 seconds to breathing through 1 for a minute. The thought process in my head being changed and me realising that the main cause for my anxiety is my thoughts not the event itself.
I also learnt how panic and anxiety are two completely different things that just go side by side and almost encourage each other along like me or you would in a human situation. Others things I learnt were how people with anxiety may do decisions that they don’t realise is made with anxiety behind it, like crossing the road. Most people run across the road or walk across with small time to spare or somewhat a healthy time before the car hits them where as the thought process for someone with anxiety is different and although the car might not be anywhere near us our brain will immediate make us thing danger and we end up thinking about it until it’s too late and the cars already passed. I suppose you can call it delayed reaction on our acting part of tasks because we’re so engrossed in the thoughts.
We set different tasks but they were never unthinkable tasks and I was given sensible times to do it in i almost felt like he understood it more in dept that anyone else i knew did.
However my anxiety got worse and after the twelfth session I stopped attending. I was at that point in my life where i felt somewhat trapped in the counselling way and i was too scared to say no. i felt everything they asked me to do i had to say yes for the fear they may think less of me. I remember when i informed him i wouldn’t be attending anymore due to how bad i had gotten he sent all my details and signing me off paperwork in the post with some extra help that he didn’t need to send but they fact he did meant a lot.
Now before I say my view on the whole of my counselling experience i in no way want this to effect anyones decisions on what they may do because seeking help is definitely the way to go but i recently found out that there’s certain stages in your life where sometimes things don’t work out for whatever reason, whether you’re just not ready as a person or it’s not something that feels right and whilst I dont think counselling is for me after that experience i would never rule it out in the future, you never know it may help me more than it has now.
I don’t want to say counselling made my anxiety worse because I dont think that’s the case but i think now im more aware of the illness and the things that cause it i feel somewhat added pressure on myself as i know the attacks and everything are my fault and i know i could learn to control them or make them less frequent but i dont understand how.
Just remember, getting help is the way to go and if it doesn’t work first time never rule out a second time because you don’t know how different the situations and time may be.