Ever had someone read you like a book? One that is ‘well-thumbed’, loved and read over and over until you almost know it off by heart? That is pretty much how I felt after my first counselling session last week.
I was nervous. I had no idea what to expect; if I was going to be thought of as ‘well enough’ to not require a chat with a professional and whether I would find opening up to a stranger easy.
These concerns weren’t massively far off. One of the first questions I was asked was whether I was “successful” last year. This definitely threw me. I have seen many people who are academically successful, suffer mentally – I would go so far to even suggest that sometimes the more successful you are, the more you are likely to have a mental health problem.
After this hurdle I was increasingly nervous about what was to come. This first meeting was an initial assessment so it ultimately resulted in me providing her with a summary, rather than a synopsis, of my life.
She provided brief interjections, pressed me for more information on difficult topics to discuss and typically went down ‘counselor’ type routes. Did my parents neglect me too much or love me too much? Did I have a strong support network? What did I want from counselling? I had no hobbies, so had I tried yoga? Blah blah blah
Although I was slightly unimpressed with my lack of epiphany over the usual assessment questions, the session seemed to both provide clarity and completely scramble my brain on things that I have held close to me my whole life.
Where I had considered myself a ‘closed book’, hard to read,and mysterious about how I actually felt; this woman just stomped all over that belief and summarised me very easily. Well, so much for that Bond style mystery hmph.
For starters, she immediately realised that I struggled with developing a balance in life, on many aspects. Something I had never connected together myself. What previously had felt like doing a dot-to-dot without any knowledge of numbers soon linked up into creating a clear picture – not the best analogy but you get my drift.
After the session, and being booked in for another in 2 weeks time, I could only describe the scenario as very sobering. Things that I have never discussed with the closest of friends and family, due to either lack of trust or fear of judgement, were freely discussed in a 35 minute discussion. I felt like I basically gave up my whole personality to assessment in such a short time. Which is what felt weird. It is undeniable that she made me feel better about certain things. She confirmed that parts of my life, past and present, were not how they should be and I wasn’t wrong or troubled for feeling certain ways. But just the concept of someone knowing everything about me is kind of terrifying in a weird sense of the word.
I think it is definitely very easy to disregard counselling, turn to medication or ignore a problem eating away. Medication failed with me and letting something gnaw away very quickly became too much. I know friends who are scared to speak to someone, maybe the fears of trust and judgement that I mentioned fuels this for others too,but it’s just not the case. I already feel like I will make real progress here. More than medication can ever offer for me. And I would recommended counselling to anyone who needs to talk about what happens in their mind.
The problem? This is university provided counselling and so I only get up to 6 sessions. After that, I am alone again. Private counselling is extortionate and the NHS is oversubscribed. But who knows, maybe i will find a way of getting the help I really want and need. This is something I will keep you updated on.