Hey Builders, Issa BONUS POST!
In honor of celebrating the end of National Mental Health Awareness Month, I would like to share all the things I’ve discovered after completing my first round of counseling sessions earlier this May. Mental health is intertwined with emotional health and sometimes in order to address the very real issues going on inside your heart and mind you need a licensed professional. Seeking help for your issues doesn’t mean you’re subsidizing your faith or your own personal strength but it is instead indicative of being willing to accept the help and guidance available to you.
Need to Know Basis
In the beginning of my sessions I found myself open to help but not necessarily open to share. For those of us out there who pride ourselves on being the “Go-to-impromptu-counselor” for our friends and family; we may find it difficult to be fully transparent with our own internal issues. I dealt with my counselor for the first few sessions on a “Need-to-Know” basis. She only knew what I chose to tell her because I still needed to be in control of my emotions and her perception of me. Nothing catastrophic was happening in my life when I began my sessions so I thought that all the emotions/thoughts of past events was of little importance. When sh*t really hit the fan in my life I came undone and had to reveal all the little nuanced emotions and experiences that I had been reluctant to share in order to get the help I needed. Seeking help with your mental health is only part of the journey, fully accepting the help through transparency is the only way you can begin the healing process in a real way.
Therapists Are People Too
Finding the perfect therapist or counselor is like finding the perfect church or partner; it doesn’t exist. I stopped counseling sessions one year prior to this one because I felt misunderstood and over talked by the counselor. I don’t respond to the “tough love” method. I didn’t discuss the issue with her and when she asked if I felt she was being too hard on me I meekly said “No ma’am.” Shortly thereafter I stopped setting up appointments and answering her phone calls. The experience confirmed my attachment to avoidance, a quality that my current counselor called me out on. In efforts to open me up and connect, my counselor shares her personal and religious experiences with me.
Again I would often feel like there was no room for my issues in the mist of her talking but I stuck it out and discovered that she stepped up to the plate exactly when I needed; she discussed herself mostly when I was closed to her in our sessions. She as a person feeds off the energy I bring into our sessions; if I am closed to talking then she is open to talking in order to make me more comfortable. When I am open to talking she is prepared to listen. If I had not given her a chance I would never have discovered that she is like many of us in the same situation.
It’s Not ALL in My Head
There’s a piece of mind with knowing that No, you’re not overreacting…that yes, you actually have some hard things that warranted your emotions. Prayer and having a good cry are much more effective in moving forward after you’ve had the time to talk about it without the fear of someone immediately telling you to “Pray about it” or “Cry it out.” There’s power in a listening ear that addresses each issue and emotion with concrete methods to deal with them.
Performing preventive maintenance when it comes to mental health is much like getting an oil change on your car or rotating the tires. You may be in a season of your life where things seem to be on the up and up but once one thing happens here comes the rush of dormant emotions you never dealt beginning to surface. Not every session is meant to highlight the bad, ugly and difficult. Some sessions will be about celebrating your good news or happy feelings. Being counseled through the good parts of your life helps prepare you for the difficult ones just like any good preventive measure.
Let’s Focus on building healthier futures through properly caring for our mental wellness too!
FYI: Military personnel are entitled to 12 free sessions per issue i.e. stress, grief, anger every year through military one source. At no cost to you get the help you need.