The first counsellor I spoke with was ok. I was filled with trepidation and yet hopeful that this would finally unravel the complications. Perhaps even grow a way forward of green grass, winking with daisies. It didn't do either. The valuable spark was missing. She was pleasant but we had no chemistry. I made about five visits, cried a lot and left feeling just as confused as ever.
I returned to counselling a few years later. This time, much less hope, just desperation. I paid privately because by then I knew what I didn't want. I didn't want to just talk and be heard. I didn't want to feel the clock ticking (and I mean by counting visits not the minutes within the hour). I didn't want to stay stuck. I wanted a proper working visit. I needed to understand why I was ill. I needed to understand how I might make progress. And I needed someone to tell me it was ok and be level with me about how having hope and making progress are not the same. They need to live together but one alone will not do for very long.
I must confess it was like opening Pandora's box. It got messy. I simply couldn't have done it without a professional. When she had to move on, I didn't feel finished but I did feel I had made huge leaps forward. Over the next few years, I visited the same place on two other occasions and had a mind sweep up. Usually when I felt desperate and usually when I felt that the last resort of medication was appearing on the horizon (I am supportive of medication, but it is entirely personal and it has not been great for me).
My message is that counselling may not work the first time but do not be put off. You may need to try different counsellors. You may need to try many times. But nobody will bring them to you on a plate, you will need to persevere and seek and try. You may need to tell your doctor what you need rather than accept what the budget wants to offer. I did not need CBT, I needed a proper clinical psychologist to step inside and rummage for me. (Rummage. Another great and under used word.)
That one counsellor with whom I made most progress, made a life difference to me. I am still digesting her lessons 8 years on. I use some of it to counsel myself when I am in the middle ground of my ill spells. Counselling is far from an easy option. But it can be extremely valuable and I fear it is falling out of fashion or budget in many circles.
The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.