Talking therapy is just one of the many things you can do to support yourself if you are struggling with your mental health.
Following an extremely stressful second year at Uni, I went into anxiety overload. I literally felt like I was sinking into the floor.
It’s not uncommon for students to feel the effects of the overwhelming pressure to do well when studying. Like most creatives, I’m attracted to high pressured industries. Eventually, I almost always suffer from a burn-out. There never seems to be time for self-care when you are knee-deep in assignments at 5 am but there are some huge advantages to having counselling that can help you lessen the load.
Getting a counsellor gives you a space to offload
Getting a counsellor means that each week, at the same time and place, you get to speak to someone about what’s troubling you. It’s the perfect opportunity to offload your stress, talk about your anxiety and feel a sense of relief. Whilst it’s great to talk to friends and family, sometimes having 50 minutes with a professional can make a huge difference to your life.
It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it
Sometimes the thought of bringing up past trauma can feel exhausting but whilst it might feel easier to avoid it, it can be healthy to face it. With that said, counselling is lead by you, so you don’t have to talk about anything you don’t want to. You may have traumas but want to talk about current stress you are facing – and that is totally fine. Whilst some sessions can be emotionally draining, you’ll always feel so much better for having a space to talk about it each week, which is why I keep going back.
Counselling helps you connect the dots
Oftentimes, I’d prep exactly what I wanted to discuss in my session only to find that within 10 minutes I’m talking about something completely different. Going to counselling each week helped me realise that some of my behaviours were learned and most were connected to my current stress. This was invaluable for me and helped me become more self-aware, meaning I’d find less toxic ways of coping with stress or find empathy and understanding for the times I couldn’t. Counselling is a wonderful way to learn about who you truly are and understand yourself at your core, helping you move into healthier, less anxiety-provoking spaces.
Counselling can restore your confidence
Having experienced a huge emotional break down during my third year of university and the end of a narcissistic relationship, therapy provided the refuge for me to find myself again. I went from being completely agoraphobic and on medication for my anxiety and depression for over a year to thriving and setting up my own business. This took years of hard work, but over time, I was able to find the strength I never knew even existed.
Counselling can be expensive, but mental illness costs more
If there is one thing I vow to invest in for the rest of my life, it’s counselling. Having counselling every week doesn’t come cheap and I recognise my privilege to be able to engage in it but the value it provides helps me realise that it actually costs me far more when I’m unwell. Suffering from severe mental illness cost me in time, memories, friendships, experiences and pain. Looking back, had I spoken to a counsellor sooner, I would never have ended up in the place I found myself.
If you are experiencing low-level anxiety or depression, or simply feel overwhelming stress – I urge you to find a counsellor local to you.
Whilst NHS waiting lists are extremely long, there are other options available to you so don’t lose hope. Start by googling local counselling organisations, independent counsellors and charities in your local area. It’s always worth checking in with your GP too and letting them know you need some help. It’s not beneficial to be in two therapies at one time, but it’s certainly worth being placed on a waiting list just in case you are unable to source help elsewhere.
If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health, you can find a qualified counsellor in your local area by using the Counselling Directory. Alternatively, Mind offers counselling services and you can call or email The Samaritans on 116 123 (UK and ROI). You can also visit our list of worldwide helplines here.