When I first got put on to Citalopram (an antidepressant) in summer 2014, I was advised to also seek counselling, but I never did. I feared admitting that I had a problem I needed to get past, and going to the doctors in the first place was hard enough – I booked and cancelled the appointment about four times. At university, I had filled in the self-referral form for the student counselling centre in September, but it wasn’t until February 2016 that I actually brought myself to book an appointment.
The first appointment was traumatic, as was the second. The first was an assessment by a man that might not necessarily be my counsellor for the rest of the sessions – and he wasn’t. So I had to recount my issues to two different people, a process which I found irritating and traumatic.
I realise now that facing the issues and thinking about the past was what I struggled with. My counsellor for the sessions was a woman named Joanna. By our second proper session the tears had stopped, and we were able to discuss issues, instead of me simply telling her the way I felt. It was something I had never done before. My doctor at home was not a counsellor; I had never been able to make progress in dealing with the problems and moving forward, and that’s what Joanna helped me to do.
Joanna would not only listen to what I said, she listened to how I said it; what my facial expressions were and what my body language was like. She considered my precise word choice – things I didn’t consciously think about but my subconscious did. She noticed the way I tensed up as soon as I said certain names, and saw my happiness when talking about others.
Each week I felt myself progressing. I felt like a different person to who I was at sixth form, and realised that it was okay how things had changed since secondary school. I have started to recognise that when I am feeling down, I can take actions to prevent a crash. I don’t worry what people will think if I’m sat on my own anymore, and I’m confident enough to ask friends to meet for a coffee. I’m not saying I’m ready to go to the doctors and be taken off Citalopram, but it’s a start.
I admit, the thing that has pushed me over the edge into becoming a more positive person was booking a flight to New Zealand. My best friend moved there at the end of year 11 and I’ve struggled ever since. I’m not saying that everyone suffering with this sort of problem should magic up some money and book a once in a lifetime trip. What I’m saying is that if you know that something is going to make you happier than anything else could, do it. Whatever it is. My counsellor could only help me so far, and the rest has been up to me.
If you don’t try to change your life, it will stay the same. Don’t keep putting counselling off if you’re scared. It’s natural to be a little worried about opening up to somebody new, in the same way that it’s natural to be worried by an interview or meeting new people. Life is about new experiences, so don’t shut yourself off – you don’t know what you’re missing. I wouldn’t miss this trip to New Zealand for the world.
(Photo credit: http://www.sarahjanewood.co.uk/services/depression-treatment/)