Sunday, 30 July 2017

Back To Counselling

I've never made a secret of the fact that I have been in counselling. 

I started seeing someone in 2010 for about 20 sessions spread out over a year and a half. Speaking to a professional in my early twenties really helped me work through some issues that I'd locked up in a box and tried to ignore. 

But that help has only got me so far. Over the last few months I've felt that I've been unravelling slowly, and then suddenly all at once. 

My grandmother passed away unexpectedly in March and that really set that descent off. I've felt stuck in a rut professional and personally. Hitting 26 years old was also profoundly underwhelming and I have this irrational fear that for some reason my time seems to be running out in the sense that I feel like there's so much more I should be achieving by now and before 30 comes knocking. Like I said, irrational.

In the 7 years since my counselling sessions I feel like I've forgotten the coping techniques I was taught and this year especially I've struggled very hard with not relapsing to self harm. This year is my 6 year self harm free anniversary and being frank, I nearly didn't make it. 

That frightened me. I make a big song and dance about my recovery anniversaries, and this year I feel a bit like a fraud. I came so close to relapsing and felt so out of control that the only thing I could think of doing, besides relapsing was to seek help again. I'm not even sure in the end what made me keep it together and not relapse, but I came so close it really frightened me. People say that I'm strong and brave but the truth is, the last few months I've felt far from it and I don't want to let people down.

Going back to seeing a counsellor initially felt like a defeat. I'd managed this long and thought that I'd worked through my issues by myself. I thought my mind and I were finally back on track and that those chapters of my life were closed, finished, done and dusted. Clearly not. That was disappointing to me. I've always been independent and done things by myself, to accept that I needed help again was a tough pill to swallow. 

Obviously I know that asking for help doesn't make me weak or that I've failed. I know that counselling is an emotional and rational 'top up'  that I need but taking that first step was hard. I cried after I sent the counselling appointment request email, but I'm exhausted of fighting this by myself. I put so much effort into putting a brave face on and pretending that I was fine, when in fact I was exhausted and just not myself.

I'm in a very privileged position where I can afford to pay for the counselling myself, and I've gone privately rather than through the NHS (National Health Service for you non Brits). I had previously spoken with my GP about getting counselling through the NHS but was told that because I wasn't an urgent case, that I could be waiting up to 6 months for an appointment. I'm so lucky that I can pay for these sessions myself, but it breaks my heart to know how stretched the system is and how difficult getting help is for those who can't go down the private route.

I've had two sessions so far and am booked in for a weekly session for the foreseeable future. 

My second counselling session already touched on a few nerves, in fact I was so emotionally exhausted after it that it took me a whole day to recover. We're digging up some old deep roots and it's tough. All my issues and challenges are one big spiderweb, it feels like I pick up on one thread of the web and understand it by itself, but it's attached to so many other threads that I get caught up in them that it's hard to know where to start. 

My biggest worry is that I will always feel like I'm damaged goods, but even if that's the case I hope that my counselling sessions will help me be at peace with that.

Accepting that I needed to go back to counselling was the hardest thing I've had to do in recent times, but I know that means I'm ready to fight. After all it can only help me get back on track and feel truly like myself again.

"Tough times never last, but tough people do."

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