Thursday, April 05, 2018

The Night Before My First Counselling Session

It's 12 hours until my first counselling session and I'm beyond terrified and keep thinking I just don't want to go. So today, I thought I'd write a new post for my mental health series, where I'll discuss the process of the lead up to getting my first counselling appointment.

Firstly, I'll talk about the referral and waitlist process.

 During my initial GP appointment, I mentioned a few problems, which I feel like a lot of my mental health issues stem from and as a result of this, it became evident pretty quickly that counselling would be essential for my recovery. Truthfully, counselling was always something I had been hesitant to want to do. Not because I felt like there was anything wrong with it, but it had never worked for me in the past. When I was around 14/15 I had weekly counselling sessions and I never felt like they helped at all, the only reason I went for as long as I did was because I got to have a break from school for an hour or two, but there came a time, where I just didn't have the strength to go anymore and so I quit.

After my initial GP appointment, I had quite a few mental health assessments. Some over the phone, some in person. During an assessment, they're just trying to work out what you're struggling with and what sort of help you may need. The first assessment I had was with a really lovely girl called Sophie and she made me feel so at ease and she kept telling me that she understood how hard it must be for me and how brave I was for being so honest. Then I went for another assessment at a mental health clinic and it was awful. I saw a woman who we'll call Carol for the purposes of this post. She asked me what the problem was and I had to tell my entire life story, again. Throughout, she kept going on her phone, which I felt uncomfortable with, considering, I was sobbing my heart out and completely opening up to her. She made pretty weird comments and I felt like she was really judging me THE WHOLE TIME and thinking I was just weak or something. Later on, she even SCOFFED AT ME and sort of laughed, but nothing I was saying was meant to be funny, at all. It was horrible. I remember being very upset about the loss of an important relationship in my life and she just said, IN THE BITCHIEST VOICE EVER: "Well, what makes him so special???" Is that a helpful comment? Not really Carol, sort yourself out. Keeping in mind, this was when I was at my lowest and thought that suicide was the only option, I think a little sensitivity on her part wouldn't have gone amiss.

After a cluster of mental health assessments, I finally got my diagnosis.

I kind of romanticised finally getting a diagnosis for my mental health issues, but it wasn't that great in reality. Once the severity of my case was realised, I found it extremely hard to get the help I needed because so many of the services available, just couldn't offer help to someone that had something more than just a mild case of anxiety or depression. It was very frustrating and definitely made me feel discouraged and suffocated at points. People always talk about how strained the NHS is and how many cuts are being made to the mental health services but witnessing it first hand was actually quite frightening. I remember being at the mental health clinic that day, not knowing what would end up happening to me and as I opened the door to leave, Carol shouts after me saying "Well, if it gets too much and you do try and end it, you can always call 999" And that's when the reality of it all came crashing down. Our mental health services are so poor, that we really have to be at complete rock bottom, until we can finally access the help we need. Sometimes, it might be just too late.

My doctor was a great help and even though the NHS couldn't help me, he starting contacting local mental health charities, in the hope they could offer me some counselling and finally, I got lucky. At first, they were pretty hesitant but then, they later offered me 12 weeks counselling. The only downside was because they are a charity, I'll have to, firstly, pay for my treatment and also, my doctor wasn't able to push me up on the waiting list so I had no choice but to wait the full amount of time. It turned out that the wait list was only 12 weeks but it definitely felt like a lifetime and that it would never come...

And then the other day, I got a text from them informing me that a space had become available for 12 weeks worth of sessions and I quickly accepted; which means my first appointment is tomorrow. I'm not sure what will actually happen; if it's an actual session or more of an appointment to work out payments and stuff. I don't know what to expect but I already have so much anxiety and I don't want to go. If any of you have ever experienced super bad anxiety, you'll know what I mean. When there's an event you DO NOT WANT TO ATTEND IN A MILLION YEARS, you'll try and look for any excuse not to go!!!!! But I guess, that could be classed as self-sabotaging behaviour and I need to draw a line under that and keep moving forward.

I think my anxiety for this, all goes back to that time with mean ol' Carol and I just worry that I'll be treated the same way, full of judgement and left feeling weak and belittled, and that's one of the things I hate the most about anxiety...once you have one bad experience, you're filled with dread that it will happen AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN. But I guess, this is just one of those life things that I have to do, no matter how much I don't want to. I've been told that my counsellor is a lady called Kay and I've written down a list of things I feel like I should mention and I just hope it will fine and start to help me. I just hope Kay will be nice and sensitive because God knows, I'm one fragile bitch and I don't need another shitty experience but I'll be sure to give you all an update soon. Wish me luck, I've never dreaded anything more!

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