Lots of people are wary of going to see a counsellor, a therapist, a shrink. They have visions of the tough New York shrinks seen in movies. They think it’s not for them. They don’t need help. They don’t want to drag up their past.
Counselling has definitely improved my life. I went for several years after a series of bereavements in 2001 and have gone back more than once since. It’s brave to admit you need help and scary to take that first step. But when you do, you have someone on your side. Someone who knows only what you tell them. They are professionally trained to listen and to guide you through their process, which will vary depending on their training and specialisms. I sought help from a Jungian psychoanalyst, psychotherapist and counsellor – simply because her website said that she was a bereavement counsellor. This is what I needed when I first went to see her.
During those first sessions in 2001, she would just sit and let me speak. Sometimes nothing came out, and it felt awkward. She would ask what had popped into my head. Sometimes there were only tears. The early sessions began with an outpouring of emotion around the deaths I was dealing with. Once those surface emotions were processed, we started to explore why the deaths had affected me and my relationship with loss and endings.
There were times when I didn’t want any more counselling. I was resistant to her suggestions of how to accept my feelings and move on. She had to work very hard. In some ways, it got worse before it got better, but there was always a feeling that at least I was doing something. I wasn’t going to let depression get the better of me. Often at the end of the session, she would pose a question for my subconscious to consider. I thought I knew the answer, but I’d have vivid dreams or thoughts that would pop up in the days after my appointment, perhaps telling a different story to what was on the surface. I had a recurring dream that all my teeth were falling out one by one. On waking, it was so real that I anxiously ran my tongue around my gums to check if my teeth were still there or not. Apparently, this is quite common and indicates you are going through a period of change.
I was quick to go back for more therapy when I got ill. Then after my daughter was born, when I was sleep-deprived and in danger of getting sick again. I returned in 2019 for more counselling when I had some mild health issues, which reawakened my anxieties. I know the signs to look out for – a spiralling of negative thoughts, a nagging feeling that I am not on top of things.
Therapy has made me a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, employer and friend.
These words are taken from my free e-book – The Green Recovery – which looks at how I recovered from burnout and a functional neurological disorder. I explore how counselling, acupuncture and cranio-osteopathy, together with the small wonders of nature, helped me get better.
You can read the full e-book for free until the end of June by signing up for my newsletter here.