I was overwhelmed with love + positive vibes from my last post — thank you. Sharing a mental health journey isn’t easy, but I’m so grateful to be supported by the CHAARG community. After hitting rock bottom [link], I came to a big conclusion — this wasn’t something that was ever going away. I knew I needed help, but wasn’t sure where to start [or how *getting help* really worked].
The summer after my *rock bottom* I was doing a lot better. I was living at home, enrolled at the University of Cincinnati for the upcoming year, + in a lot healthier of a place. However, I still knew something was off… I wasn’t back to the same old Sarah [of course, now I know that I will never be back to the *same old Sarah* ; ) — and, that’s a good thing]. I reached a point where I decided… I needed more help… it was time to see a counselor. I wanted to take my recovery to the next level + learn some coping mechanisms so I would never hit rock bottom again.
I remember asking my Mom in the kitchen, “What do you think of me seeing a counselor?” “You know, you can always talk to me!” she quickly responded. I could see the look of hurt in her face… why couldn’t I just tell her how I was feeling or how low I had become? It wasn’t that I didn’t want to talk to my Mom about these things… but that I couldn’t. How do you tell the woman who has given you the world that you still felt this pit in your stomach that you had no way to deal with? That as an 18-year-old you had hit your breaking point + were still struggling to climb out? You don’t. [At least, I didn’t at that point in my life].
Ultimately, my mom thought it was a good idea + was so incredibly supportive. I know how much it hurt her at first, however this was one of those decisions I had to make for me + do for myself.
I have seen 4 different counselors over the past 7 years — whoa! I’ve learned a lot since then + want to share these five tips if you are considering seeing a counselor —
1] IT’S YOUR DECISION
You can’t do this because someone else is telling you to — you need to fully commit to it + OWN it. Seeing a counselor is not easy. It takes commitment + you have to be ready to share [everything!]. It’s also not just a *one hour a week thing.* You will bring up some things that need a lot of reflection, ++ typically, these sessions stir up a lot of feelings that take time to process + heal.
2] FIND YOUR PERFECT COUNSELOR FIT
The first person you see might not be the *perfect* counselor for you ++ that’s okay! They won’t take it personally — they want to help you find the right person for you to talk to. If you aren’t jiving with your therapist, let them know how you’re feeling ++ ask them for another recommendation. I promise — you are their number one priority.
3] THERE’S NO RIGHT TIME TO START
Take the leap now! Before I started therapy, I had zero clue where to start with sharing. I realized I was in a better place than before but knew that I still needed help… so sometimes I was a little unsure WHY I was there sometimes. They are trained to help you sort through everything + remember that there is no right moment to start seeing a counselor. They are trained to ask you the right question at the right time to help you sort through things no matter where you are at in your journey. They will also sometimes scribble down notes so that they can keep the sessions fluid // can help organize thoughts with you. : )
4] BE VULNERABLE, OPEN, + 100% HONEST
I know it can seem weird going to a complete stranger + talking about some of your deepest feelings every week, but one of the most comforting things to me is that everything I say is confidential. They aren’t going to tell anyone what you are saying in there [unless you mention harming yourself or another person].! For me, this enabled complete honesty + no shame about saying what was on my mind.
5] YOUR UNIVERSITY MIGHT OFFER COMPLIMENTARY SESSIONS
Health insurance can be really confusing sometimes, but it’s important to know that you might be able to get free counseling sessions through your school! College is a time of huge transitions ++ you are not the only one wanting to seek help. Check out your university’s website or ask a Resident Advisor options that your school might have ++ take advantage of them! If they aren’t offered at your university, you can often call counseling offices in your area + they’ll help you figure out how to work with your insurance company to get them covered!
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to stick with it once you start. It’s not something where you go once + feel better instantly, it takes a while to start building that relationship + for you to start seeing how therapy is impacting your life! If you have any questions — never hesitate to reach out. Always here for you!
++ Sarah C [@sarahkclem]