Things Counselling Has Taught Me

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Hey guys! For a while now, I’ve been having issues with anxiety and depression, and it got a lot worse in 2019. Before lockdown, I was given the opportunity by my Employment Support Officer to have counselling sessions to help with that. And because they were free, I was ready to try it!

I had counselling sessions for eight weeks, and I feel that they’ve been helpful in a lot of ways.

Getting Things off my Chest

I’ve gotten things off my chest before, but those have always been in circumstances where people already know the issues. Other people that haven’t been aware simply don’t care. It’s why these counselling sessions have been helpful in getting things out there into the open, as if I was expelling that negative energy (God that sounds corny).

It’s also been helpful discussing the issues of being childfree, and wanting a permanent solution. I know I probably will have to have more counselling dedicated to this in the future, when I do eventually go down this route.

The Power of Epiphanies

I say this in a broad aspect, but throughout the sessions I’ve been trying to dredge up past instances that I’ve buried into obscurity. For example, a time when the Sperm Donor always used to take the piss out of me for my telephone manner, when I was the one lending an ear to a friend, as friends do. It impacted my confidence in telephone conversations, and that lasted all the way up until 2018 when I took a call centre job. I’d been told by my counsellor that I sound confident over the phone, and that I sound like I’ve got a good head on my shoulders.

There would be a lot of times when I’d have epiphanies in the middle of a sentence, and the realisation hits me suddenly. I’m then able to compartmentalise it and move on from that.

These epiphanies help me piece things together and make sense of them. It then gives me something new to work on later down the line.

Grief is Subjective

I say this as a short way of saying that people grieve in different ways and in different situations. I had to discuss the death of my uncle who I wasn’t particularly close with, and while it was surreal that he’d passed (he was completely healthy, ran marathons and died of a heart attack at home), I wasn’t close enough to him for it to have so much of an impact. And I was once blamed for not grieving for him.

Meanwhile, I grieved for a friend of mine, who died nearly eight years ago. Like I cried a lot. And unfortunately during my small break, I received news that our family cat, Baldrick, passed away from illness. Of course, that affected me over the course of the week afterwards.

Damned if You Do, Damned if You Don’t

Most recently I’ve suffered from a lot of migraine problems. This has impacted the way that I’m able to function in day-to-day life and while I’m medicated for it, it hasn’t really taken effect. So I still suffer from migraines, but I got some good advice – you’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t, so you might as well do. And it’s something that I’ve taken in my stride.

Normally, I’d be stopping myself from cleaning or other things, in order to prevent migraines from triggering. However, things need to get done, and I might as well get a little bit done. That way, if I do get a migraine, at least I’ve done something!

Compartmentalise Issues

I’ve taken the epiphanies that I’ve had and have applied them to improve my mental health. For example, I had a lot of mental health problems when it came to watching and participatin in live streams. I found the key issue was not feeling accepted, like it was as though certain streamers were glossing over my messages, in favour of others who had the money to drop randomly on the channels. I ended up going into other streams that are either relatively small or concern themselves with catching up on the chat, to make sure that everyone’s included, no matter how much money they’ve paid into the channel.

I’ve struggled to compartmentalise the issues I had last year, in terms of my living situation.

Anxiety Techniques

One of my worst issues has to do with anxiety. I was really bad with anxiety last year, and I had little to no clue what to do. The environment I was in actually prevented any techniques from being of any use to me. After all, how would it stop people from being emotionally dangerous? However, I’m now more than well-equipped to tackle it head-on. I escaped from that environment nearly a year ago, and I feel a lot more like myself than before.

Prior to our last session, I was given some PDFs on anxiety coping skills and grounding techniques. I quite like the idea of progressive muscle relaxation, where you hold the tension in parts of your body for 10 seconds, before releasing the tension to fully relax. I mainly need to work on challenging irrational thoughts, as that usually gets me stuck in the worst of issues, which tends to result in depressive spells.

I quite like the categories technique for grounding, where you choose at least three categories and name as many items as you can in each one. For example, choosing books, cities and animals and giving yourself 3 minutes to list items in each category. This one makes me use my brain in a different way, and it feels a lot better writing things down than simply imagining it.

Of course, every person’s counselling sessions pan out differently, because everyone’s needs are different. But this is how I’ve managed to come through each of the sessions.

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