Counselling Saved Me

Friday, 28 April 2017


(Enjoy this lil' throwback of baby Soph) 

I'm coming to the end of my first year at university, and I can't believe I’m saying this, but I’m finally happy.

A few months ago, I was struggling really badly with my mental health. I’ve suffered for the past year and a half (on and off) with anxiety and depression. But, I'm finally feeling, well, better. 

Before heading to university, for the second time, I’d been on the NHS waiting list to receive counselling for a long, long time… 7 months in fact. My doctor had prescribed me medication to numb the physical symptoms but I needed to speak to someone. I needed to untangle the knots in my head. 

We all know the NHS is stretched, as this is in no way bashing them at all but this is simply my experience. I was offered telephone counselling as a short-term solution, until I could see a therapist. This was great, except there was one small problem, phone calls incredibly triggered me. I hated them. I had a few sessions, but there's something so impersonal and troubling about telling a faceless voice that you've had suicidal thoughts. 

When I came to university in September 2016, I declared on my UCAS form that I had suffered with mental health and I can’t thank my university enough. Because I’d declared this I was given a counselling session within a week of applying. I’m allowed 6 sessions per year, and so far I've had 5 sessions. I'm saving the last one as a backup! 

I want to stress that everyone's journeys are different and if other treatments work for you, then amazing! But in my personal situation, I need a talking therapy. 

So, how did counselling help me?

Counselling was vital in me sorting the broken bits in my head, and piecing those memories into a timeline and working out what triggered me to feel low, or anxious. 

See, I’m a very open book when it comes to mental health but, when it comes to some of the situations I’ve had to go through I’m incredibly closed. Having an impartial person listening to my story, and reassuring me that I’m normal to be feeling the way I was, really took a huge weight off of my shoulders. I was reminded I wasn’t weak in fact, I’d just been too strong for too long.

Counselling taught me that I’m too hard on myself. In fact, I'm a perfectionist. I push myself to my breaking point, in an attempt to over-achieve and give myself some sort of acceptance. I replaced days in bed feeling depressed, with going to the gym 6 times a week and a calorie-restricted diet. These then followed with days of endlessly binging on foods that made me feel sluggish and sad. 

Thing is, counselling taught me about my patterns. I’m a cyclical person. For example, in March 2016 - I was comfort eating myself to destruction after leaving university. Flash forward to March 2017,  I’m more aware of what I’m eating and guess what, it was crap. Breaking this down and exploring my emotional brain with my cognitive brain was important for me. I’m able to recognise my triggers, and help try stop them. 
Counselling was the best medication for me, not citalopram and whatever other drug I was prescribe. For me, my doctor prescribing medication was to cover themselves, they are essentially the middle men between accessing therapy. I completely understand their situation, but I knew deep down, medication just wasn't an answer for me. 

I would encourage anyone struggling to consider taking the counselling route if they have access to it - it really saved me. 

Recovery and mental health is a journey. It would be naive of me to think that I'm magically fixed, and that I will go back to my bubbly self. I know that's not the case, of course I still have bad days. But those bad days are few and far between nowadays. 

If anyone has any questions about counselling or mental health in general, please feel free to message me or tweet me!

Thanks for reading pals!


pint sized soph | lifestyle blogger

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