CN: Anxiety, Depression, alcohol
The enormous release of relief I felt after leaving the counsellor’s room on the third floor of the library is one of the more powerful feelings I’ve ever had. Walking home, I had a genuine strut in my stride, a relaxation I hadn’t felt in years. Whilst there was a long way to go, there was also no doubt in my mind that seeking counsel for the first time was absolutely the right decision to make.
Just because my initial experience of counselling ended well, however, doesn’t mean that it was an easy process.
The decision about whether or not to see a counsellor at all in the first place was an agonising one. The idea of talking to stranger to help solve problems I thought I could sort out myself wasn’t particularly appealing. I’d been considering it for a few years, but it was only after a bit of nudging from a friend who had been depressed throughout his time at university, that I decided to take the leap.
The next step was definitely the easiest. The help and simple explanation of the process on the university’s website was reassuring, as was the initial form that you’re encouraged to fill out. The university quite rightly attracts criticism for its criminal underfunding of the counselling service, but kudos for them for the simplicity of the sign-up process – it definitely made signing up easier for me.
“Walking home, I had a genuine strut in my stride, a relaxation I hadn’t felt in years.”
As it got closer to the date of the first appointment, I was steadily more apprehensive about going at all. The day before it, I cancelled. I figured that I was being overly dramatic, that I didn’t really need to see help and that there were people who were in far more need of it.
In a weird way, I was lucky that in the following week I had a couple of especially ‘bad days’. Days where I was feeling irrationally miserable were the wake-up call that I needed. They helped me realise that I was being an idiot and that I should definitely go when my appointment got rearranged.
Now here’s the terrifying part.
On the day of the appointment I was feeling alright, comfortable in the knowledge that I had made the right and mature decision. But it wasn’t until the hour before the appointment that I seriously thought through what was about to happen. In all likelihood, I was going to convey feelings that I have long suppressed to a complete stranger in an alien environment. I knew there was no pressure on me to say anything, but I also knew that if this was going to work I had to be honest.
The normal ten-minute walk to the library took an eternity; I was on the verge of tears the whole way and I was petrified by the idea of bumping into anyone I knew. To be honest, I may well have turned home had it not been for my friend who had recommended counselling to me in the first place. I texted him saying, ‘Feeling a wee bit nervous, think I’m in serious danger of blubbing lol.’ For the next few minutes he was fantastic, reassuring me that it will all be fine and that it’s perfectly fine, if anything powerful, to let your emotions go.
“I figured that I was being overly dramatic, that I didn’t really need to see help and that there were people who were in far more need of it.”
And he was right. It was a powerful and rewarding experience that obviously had benefits for me and consequently, counselling is something that I have used and is something I will look to use more in the future.
I’m sure for most people, it probably isn’t as scary. But, if you’re like me and it takes at least your week’s maximum alcohol allowance to even consider talking about feelings, it can be. It’s important for people in a similar mind-set to know that is how thousands of others feel when they first seek counselling and that that horrible feeling of fear you have in the hours and days leading up to it can be so worth it. I know it certainly was for me.