If you follow me on Instagram and watch our stories regularly, you will know I talk quite openly about my mental health journey and how much grá I have for my therapist… Queen B I like to call her.
I was definitely brought up at a time where if you went to counseling that it was to be kept quiet as ‘they’ would think there was something wrong with you. Bear in mind, I’m 33, so it wasn’t exactly 100 years ago. I’m also from a small place, and anything different can be frowned upon… So, struggling with anxious thoughts or depression was not something you would shout from a rooftop…
Something I realised during my therapy journey was how much I actually needed it years before I actually went for my first session.
We all have skeletons in our closets and whether we want to admit it or not, this closet needs to be cleaned out from time to time.
I have had a lot of change in my 33 years; and in hindsight, I wish I was encouraged a lot younger to go see a therapist.
I went for my first session at 30 when I was no longer able to control minor panic attacks. Thoughts of not being good enough were taking over my days and I was losing a lot of sleep, becoming easily irritated and struggling to express how I was feeling without essentially breaking down.
I got a recommendation for a counselor and started going once a week.
Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect, but her sign up conditions were 10 weeks so I kind of rolled with it. Looking back, I very much held back on information because I didn’t want to feel judged, and I also wanted her to like me. This might sound outrageous but I suppose it was one of the things I wanted to work on.; people pleasing… So it now makes sense. She also advised that I should go to my GP and start some meds, which I did. I started on some prozac and also some sleeping tablets.
Covid hit and we had to move our sessions online. After one zoom session, I knew that it wasn’t for me. Not the zoom session. The counselling. I knew I wasn’t being honest with her or with myself so I stopped going.
I believe Covid impacted a lot of people’s mental health, whether you were in routine or not, it was bloody hard. Whether you were making a living or on the PUP, it was still hard. And whether you were in a good head space or not, it was a difficult time for us all.
I was struggling and even with the medication, I knew I needed to talk more. And not to my friends, who, bless them, are the best in the world.
I needed to start therapy again so I went with another recommendation and this is where I met Queen B. I cried for 57 mins of the first hour with her. I immediately felt that I had a safe space and from the first session, I knew I was going to benefit from them.
I went every week without fail, even when we had to swap from face to face, to zoom calls, I never missed a session. I dealt with skeletons that I couldn’t even remember putting in my closet and also with the stuff that was going on with me at that present time.
Coming into that Xmas, I made a very difficult decision to leave my business and this wasn’t easily made. I continued doing these weekly sessions for the months of turmoil that were to follow and I can honestly say, it saved me from having a full on breakdown.
As my mental health deteriorated, I was becoming less and less like myself and only for those weekly sessions (and my golden circle of pals) I’m confident I’d still be in the bed.
Those few months were tough, I was not only anxious but also socially anxious and hated spending any time alone which I found hard to accept as I am quite extroverted. I really struggled to accept that I hated my own company because of how much I could get into my own head with negative thoughts. My therapist worked on tools to help me to deal with this. Giving meditation, tips, CBT, poems, readings, books… you name it! If she told me that I had to find the closest bald man and lick his head, I was going to do it.
We started small bits of homework, like popping for a 15 minute walk alone and over the months to follow, we worked right up to month in Spain, alone. This progress was by no means linear, I regressed and progressed all the time. I did ween off the medication and focused more on minding myself in other ways such as; doing stuff for me, tightening my inner circle, setting boundaries, saying no to shit I just didn’t want to do. All very much things that didn’t come naturally to me.
I began to accept that I deserved better, in all areas of my life. And those boundaries I worked on with Queen B tested a lot of relationships with people in my life. Some relationships were never to be fixed again, and some are now better than ever.
Some days are tough, of course. And I can still slip into those negative thoughts. This progress isn’t linear, and your mind can be a dangerous place to be in. Reaching out and starting counseling essentially changed my life. I stopped my weekly visits in November last year and have touched base a good few times this last 10 months when I was overwhelmed or felt like I was carrying stuff I could no longer hold. And I will continue to do this as often as I feel the need to.
Remember, it’s ok to not be ok.
Nothing external will fix internal issues. You have to work on yourself, you have to reach out. For those of you reading this and find this any way relatable, I’m sending you hugs today.
For those of you who are indecisive as to where to start, or cannot financially afford counselling, there is a place called coisceim (https://www.socialandhealth.
com) that helps finance counselling and can also recommend a therapist.
And for those of you who need to hear it, don’t ever let other people male you question your worth, especially if that person is yourself.
You’re doing great.
Be proud of you.