I went to counseling this morning. It was perfect timing on the heels of my latest Ohio Adventure and the stress of traveling by plane.
I want to find a way to encourage people to try counseling, or to encourage people to continue going to counseling if they already go. I don’t have any clever gimmicks. I have no way to make the magic happen for anyone else. I just want you to be well. I want you to feel happy, and I want you to understand yourself better and accept yourself. If you do feel happy and you do accept yourself, you probably don’t feel like you need counseling. I’m cool with that, and I feel proud of you. You got it goin’ on!
If you break your arm, you go to the doctor, explain what happened and how your arm feels. The doctor provides medication, a cast, information about ongoing care to repair your broken arm. Maybe you need pins in your elbow, or you have to wear the cast for so long that your muscles atrophy and you have to follow through with physical therapy after the cast is removed. Chances are, you’ll do all of that without hesitation and without question. I mean, you need your arm, right? You can do life with one arm, but it’ll be easier with two.
Your brain isn’t broken. Your emotions aren’t broken. Your spirit isn’t broken. If you don’t feel well, if you don’t feel right, if you just don’t feel, there are ways to work on this. There are paths to the best YOU that YOU can be. Maybe it’s like physical therapy, but for your emotional self, for your spirit and your mental health? There are places where you can sit and cry, cuss, cover your face, close your eyes, plainly say, “I feel angry,” or just sit quietly. You can say, “This isn’t fair,” “This hurt my feelings,” “I’m glad I did that,” “I didn’t deserve that,” “I wish I had done more,” “I wish I felt like I could say…” Whatever you need or want. I even laugh and giggle during counseling. For me, it is absolutely a safe place, and I believe in the power of a counselor’s office to be a safe place for whoever needs it. I’m not sure I know anybody who doesn’t need that.
I love to go to counseling. I look forward to it. I keep a mental (and sometimes written) list of things to make sure I share. Just knowing an appointment is coming up is more helpful than you might imagine. When I receive my text reminder, I feel relieved. And when I’m struggling with something, and I ask my counselor, “Do I have to do this?” and he says, “No,” that sense of liberation is just more than I ever thought I’d have in this life. It may take some time, but the burden lifts eventually.
If someone reaches out to you, LISTEN and help. If you don’t know what to do, your community probably has a mental health deputy, emergency medical services of some kind, a health department, etc. If you don’t know what to do, get your phone book out and call SOMEONE. You can find someone who knows what to do. You can find someone to help with the financial burden or transportation barrier. If you’re reading this, you know me, and I will help. Don’t forget that the word “health” does not exclusively apply to physical health.
I do not believe in throwing anyone away. I do not believe in protecting myself or my image at the detriment of someone else’s wellbeing. Nobody is perfect, and there is no number of stories you can tell that will make you appear perfect. If you need help, go get it or start looking for it. If someone tells you that they need help, that’s not about you. Do what you can to help that person feel and be better. It’s not about you. No matter how good your image is, a person who is hurting will continue to hurt. That person’s hurt will likely get worse. What happens to you or with you does not do anything to help the person who needs help. When people need help, they absolutely get to be selfish, because the other options are bad. The other options aren’t even real options. In many instances of a person hurting, that person already does not feel worthy. The person doesn’t feel valuable. If we take away the opportunity to be selfish when they NEED to be selfish, it reinforces that nasty idea that everyone else is more valuable. I can speak to this, because I have been there many times, over and over. Do I need to spell out some possible consequences of a person feeling worthless or just less-than everyone else?
Having said all of this, don’t forget that you cannot pour from an empty cup, so make sure you help yourself (s/o to Addie for the reminder). I spent a lot of years trying to make myself an island because other people can be so goddamn awful, cold and unreliable. It never worked. It is so cheesy and so worn out, but no person is an island. Nobody does “good life” alone. Whether we like it or not, we are social beings and, luckily, the word “community” has several definitions. When you find your community, they help you do “good life.” That includes you pulling your weight in that same community, so everyone involved gets to have “good life.”
If you have questions about counseling or you want me to be quiet (note: I’ll interpret this as me hitting too close to home for you and you not being able to handle your real feelings, in which case YOU NEED COUNSELING), reach out via contact form here, via FB, via IG (@commonmaggie). You can reach me. Take care of yourself, take care of each other and be kind.