Being a social worker and also being mental ill is a conundrum. I know all of the things that I’m experiencing are normal and worrisome all at the same time, and I also know how important it is to talk about those things; however, from working in my field and learning about it in school, I’m also aware of what happens when I tell my therapist all of the things that I’m experiencing. It’s discouraging to me that as I’m driving to my appointment, I’m giving myself the rundown of everything she is going to say to me after I fill her in on what’s been going on since we’ve last spoken. This isn’t to deter anyone from therapy, including fellow social workers/counselors. Therapy is important and is a God send for me. The ability to talk through my problems and create plans to address those problems with a person who isn’t going to judge me and who prides themselves on working to help me is more than I could ever ask for. I still find the entire process leading up to one of my appointments to be annoyingly frustrating at times.
I’m well-aware that showing up to a session with a trained professional in the mental health field means how I present myself is being monitored. Not in a judgmental way, of course, but in the–
has she arrived on the correct day at the right time?
is she aware of what day it is?
Is she appropriately dressed for the weather?
–type of way where I know a red banner is going to fall down from the ceiling if I don’t pass the test (no, not really). Believe me, I hate tests and if I had to take one just to see a therapist, I’d be out.
As you can imagine when I’ve been in bed for three days because I simply cannot get up, I may not arrive appropriately dressed for a session. Or dressed in a way that I’m not usually dressed leaving the “what kind of week has she been having?” mystery resolved before I even open my mouth. Throwing my hair up in a messy bun because I haven’t showed or combed through my hair, canceling three appointments in a row because I simply cannot get in a car and drive to my appointment, receiving a phone call stating I missed an appointment because I slept through it (even though my appointment was at 4pm), showing up at the wrong time; it all says something without me having to. I know this, I’ve been trained in this, I remind myself of these facts while I’m driving to an appointment with a messy bun, sweatpants, three-day-old make-up, twenty minutes after my appointment started. Mental illness does not care who I have to see or where I have to go, it demands what if needs from me and holds me hostage until I deliver.
I guess this is mainly just what happens on my good days as when I’m having a bad day – or bad week – I need my counselor more than humans need water. I still find the whole situation a tad comical. Going through the steps in my head just moments before they’re translated in real life as if I’m some awesome superhero that can predict the future. I’m not, I just took similar classes to my counselor. I know when certain tactics are being used against me in order to try calming me or getting me to open up about what’s really bothering me. I use most of these tricks on my own clients. I definitely wouldn’t say I feel that my ability to guess what’s going to happen before it does due to being in the same field causes therapy to be ineffective for me — it certainly is not ineffective. Therapy has been a God send. Without it, I truly am unsure what I would do most days.
On a more serious note, if you’re someone who is considering counseling but you’re also in that in-between stage where most of the time you feel you can handle it on your own; however, sometimes you feel like you can’t – I’m here to tell you that if you believe you may benefit from a counselor than you most definitely should at least try. It can be tremendously helpful. Just keep in mind that I’ve had five different counselors and I’m currently considering switching to a sixth (due to specialization in my specific area of mental health needs, not because my current counselor isn’t a Rockstar), so if you meet with one, and they aren’t helping, it’s okay to do more research and find someone who can assist your needs better. A counselor/client relationship is just like any other relationship. It takes formation of rapport, trust, comfortability, and two people genuinely willing to work together. A perfect match doesn’t always come the first time; just ask Prince Charming, he tried to put a shoe on tons of different feet before he found his Princess.
If you need more information on mental health support services, I’ve listed some below:
Adolescent Crisis Intervention & Counseling Nineline
AIDS National Hotline
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
Panic Disorder Information Hotline
Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Suicide & Crisis Hotline
Suicide Prevention – The Trevor HelpLine
(Specializing in gay and lesbian youth suicide prevention).
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
SOURCE: http://www.cocoonais.com/mental-health-hotlines-worldwide/#Northamerica (please use this link if you’re looking for more information on crisis/help hotlines in your country/state/city).