It’s easy for me to sit here and tell you to get therapy.
I was lucky enough to receive counselling from the NHS after I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and without it I’m not sure how my recovery would have panned out. Walking into a tiny little room every week and baring my soul to a complete stranger seemed unthinkable at the time, but I knew I was lucky to be given access to the service so I always attended my appointments, even though I dreaded them.
I saw a Community Psychiatric Nurse over the course of a year and it wasn’t easy. In fact, it was really quite uncomfortable at times and having social anxiety made it even harder because my body had a physical reaction every time I walked into that room. I wanted nothing more than to run out the door and never look back, because it was a dark and difficult place to be.
I’m not telling you all this to put you off, I’m telling you because I think its important to have realistic expectations when you start to open up about your mental illness to a professional.
They are here to help you but that doesn’t mean the experience is going to be enjoyable. It’s hard work, its a grind, a long slog and along the way you’ll inevitably want to give up.
I had moments of hope. Sometimes my nurse would tell me I looked better than the week before or that I was making real progress and would be able to get back to work soon. But more often than not it was painful and drawn out. Most weeks I felt like it was a waste of time even showing up, but as the weeks and months passed by I realised that she was on my side.
I could ask her impartial opinion on things that were bothering me, like whether I should attend a friend’s birthday party even though it made me anxious or if it was OK to drink alcohol on my medication. She wasn’t giving me love and affection like my family, but she was giving me care. Professional care and help that I so desperately needed even if I didn’t want it at the time. Looking back now I can see that having that constant source of knowledge on tap every week was invaluable, and a real turning point in my recovery.
Seeing my regular doctor was all well and good, but being able to talk for longer that ten minutes with a medical professional was a tool which I really feel should be available to everyone with a mental illness.
If you’re on the fence about getting therapy then I would say give it a go. If your GP is able to offer you free access then grab it with both hands, and if you need to pay for it yourself then it’s still worth the money (Try Better Help) and an investment in your recovery that I promise will pay off in the long run.
Have you tried therapy?