How Counselling Saved Me

I've always been a fan of counselling. I really wanted to do couples counselling at the start of 2022, because I felt it would force Luke to be emotionally vulnerable as the counsellor would probe with the questioning and guide the conversations in a way that I wasn't being successful with. I even booked us a session, but he refused to attend, so I ended up going alone. 

I feel like counselling gives you a great outlet to be completely open, honest and vulnerable, without fear of being judged. It's also a space to gain professional guidance and support from a trained eye. It's mainly a talking therapy, where you are listened to and helped to find ways to deal with emotional issues. 

My first counselling session was a massive turning point for me. It felt nice to be given permission to feel my emotions and for someone to accept the emotions unconditionally. I pretty much sobbed for the full hour. It was so hard. I never thought I would cry in front of a stranger and here I was doing it with someone I had just met.  actually can’t believe how emotionally draining it was. I was exhausted afterwards. She was king and supportive. She said so many things that just made sense. She encouraged me so much and mostly, encouraged self-kindness. 

I appreciated the safe space created and all the advice. There was a lot of feelings I didn’t expect to feel, especially anger and resentment. I realised that not only am I incredibly sad about the breakup, but hurt that my ex seemingly had no sadness and continued with normal life. My life is so f*cking hard without you. 

I was advised in my first counselling session and it has been reiterated since that journaling is a great tool to help with self-reflection and processing emotions. I've always used this platform as kind of my own personal journal and whilst the majority has been positive, I've always said I'll be brutally honest. For me, I think sharing my heart in words and pressing publish has always been therapeutic. Writing down my thoughts and emotions is an outlet and I also feel if I can help anyone else relate, then why wouldn't I. 

One of the biggest things I struggled with was the lack of support I had in my personal life. I have such a loving family, but they didn't support me in the way I needed. My dad had life going on after my uncle had just had a stroke and was helping with recovery. He prioritised volunteering at the canal and garden centres then spending quality time together. When he was around, I felt like he was constantly making me feel worse and it wasn't helpful. My mum on the other hand, I've always said is one of the kindest people I know, but she's also of a generation that doesn't believe mental health is an illness and seeing how she treated others with depression, I didn't feel safe to talk to her. Also, it didn't help that one of the biggest factors that pushed me into starting antidepressants was her husband and I have since yet to say a single word to him, nor do I ever want to again. I also had so many friends that reached out and would be there in a heartbeat at the other end of the phone if I ever wanted to talk, but it wasn't the same as having them present in person. 

My cousin had just become a mother and so she was otherwise occupied. The friend I thought I was close to had cancelled the last two times we made plans, and then she ignored my further attempts. The other friends I had local to me were friends that we had together as a couple. I didn't realise how much the latter affected my relationship with them. They were the people we went on double dates with and did couple activities together. I didn't know what the right way to be friends with them was. 

I knew I didn't want to put them in the middle of us. Having come from a divorced family, I knew how my parents friends had felt they had to choose sides, and ultimately, a lot of them had decided it was easier to loose contact with both which was such a shame and affected my parents in a big way. I didn't want them to be in that position, but I also couldn't continue the relationship that we had as every time I would see them, they would ask about Luke or my dating life and I couldn't talk about either without crying. Another part of me felt like I shouldn't have them in my life because Luke had so few close friends, and at the end of the day, they were his friends first. He always said he was fine with me being friends with them, but I couldn't help but feel guilty. I also hated it when he saw them without me, and didn't want to hurt him the same way. 

Ultimately though, the only person I wanted to talk to and the only person I wanted to share my heart with, was the one person who didn't want to and couldn't be there for me any longer. That was hard to get over. He had been my person for 4 years. I was so grateful to have counselling as that outlet because otherwise I don't know what I would have done. I am also very thankful that I was able to access it through the university with just a one month wait, because I am still waiting on the NHS service and I think I would be in a much darker place without it. Deep down, I'm not sure I would still be here at all.