Getting talking!

For the past year of my life, I have had counselling. I've been seeing a fantastic fully-qualified private counsellor in her home a short drive away for 50 minute sessions of just sitting in a nice little room, a safe space, and talking through the bad stuff. 

Yesterday, it ended. I had my last 50 minutes. The session was a celebration – we had a cuppa and some salted caramel cookies, talked through things as per and agreed happily that it did feel right to end. She gave me a tiny book filled with lovely poetic sayings and I left with the biggest smile on my face. You cannot beat that post-therapy feel; the sense of good clean emptiness almost, immense emotion having been unloaded, it's just blissful. 

I realised yesterday, when we recapped the things I've needed help with over the past year, that I really have been through a lot. And I've come out the other side. I couldn't have done that without this. 

It took me a while to realise counselling was what I needed. For ages I was soldiering on, swallowing feelings and thus prone to periods of intense sadness, or even the odd outburst directed at others. I had the opportunity offered to me numerous times, the concept explained in full and suggestions of contacts given, but I was reluctant for quite some time.
I personally believe this was down to one of my biggest personal problems which is pleasing people. I didn't want to cause any drama or cost anyone anything, I didn't want to draw attention to myself or my dilemmas, and so I kept on ignoring. Not putting myself first.
It must have been maybe the hundredth sad or enraged outburst that occurred when I finally accepted that I needed help. Which, as everyone will tell you repeatedly, is the first and hardest step. I agreed to see this recommended local woman for just the introductory half hour session talking and getting to grips with what can happen. After this half hour, I had a gut instinct that I needed this, that it would help me if only a little.

Turns out, it helped a lot. I've always believed that talking can be a miracle cure for things, it can be all you need (ask any one of my friends and they'll tell you, I am a talker!) but this is different – it's actually sitting, speaking, and being heard by someone new, someone neutral. Someone who is just there for you, and doesn't take anyone else's side. They only care about you and how you feel.
There were a few things to adjust to, for instance whenever a good cry happened (also a miracle cure for most things) there would be no heartfelt hugging, not even any humouring hand-patting. Also you're rarely given an outright solution to a problem, that's not what a counsellor does – you're given a new perspective sometimes, or just a select few supportive words. I was always blown away whenever I'd talk about a problem at length, not seeing a way out of it, and then this woman would simply say a few words along the lines of 'where does that come from, though?'/'have you considered this?'...and it solved everything. 

One more big thing that surprised me was what you talk about. It didn't matter if I had a clear idea of what needed discussing, I would almost always find myself talking about something else. I'd surprise myself bringing something up, or being steered towards something unexpected...and finding it was exactly what needed to be brought up. Y'know?
I soon decided to go along to my sessions with one thing in mind, if that, to mention in conversation. Anything else would come up organically and be completely perfect.

I cannot recommend therapy enough. If you have a problem, if it's an issue you are 100% aware of or maybe you just feel out of sorts or very unhappy and aren't sure why, then look into seeing someone, if only for one session to see how it feels. See if it helps.

I'd see my counsellor once a week typically but due to health happenings and changes in rotas at times it's had to be a case of 'I'll email whenever I'm free, please fit me in' which isn't ideal, really, but it means so much that she's been able to do that for me.
Most people will see their person once a week or once a fortnight maybe, at a set time on a set day. The pattern and reliable routine can be majorly helpful. 

The NHS are getting much better with this – friends of mine have seen therapists or gone to specific support groups that have been arranged and fully funded by the NHS, and said it's been perfect for them. I personally saw someone privately, someone who came recommended.

Counselling has helped me deal with my illness. You see, my illness is not just the actual physical thing that needed operating on a couple of times then zapping with radiation. It's also an array of mental matters that were almost entirely a direct result of the physical thing, with some other lesser causes mixed in. These mental matters needed identifying, and addressing. I was unaware of so much for so long, and I'm so grateful to now see everything for what it is, and to know myself that much better.

Ending this wonderful treatment of sorts felt unusual and did frighten me a little at first...but it also made complete sense. I'm in the best place, now. I'm aware of every issue I have, every nervous tendency and every barrier I put up for myself – and those things aren't gone, no, they're managed. I am in control of them. I see them when they crop up and threaten things and situations, and now I know how to deal with them.

I am happy and comfortable within myself. I really am. I won't lie, it feels really strange and somewhat alien, having been so lost and so sad for so long...but it's pretty damn awesome. 


  1. Thank You Grace for being so open and honest about this. I have never needed counselling but if I did I would want to read a post like this. Brilliantly written from the perspective of someone who has been there. Excellent work.
    Sarah xx


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