Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Counseling: To Go or Not to Go?

I had a very misguided view of counseling prior to my parents' divorce. I believed counselors were for people who experienced really serious problems (like the death of a loved one) or who were really messed up in the head. Not me. Ridiculous, huh? Such a childish outlook.

I've never experienced chronic depression until my parents' problems really surfaced (or at least surfaced to the point where I began recognizing something was wrong). As problems continued, I would get stomaches everyday. My energy levels declined. I began to get more moody and negative. I had changed and I didn't even realize it.

I think the tiredness was what finally hit me. A few months ago, I realized I had a complete lack of interest in everything. The things I used to enjoy doing (hanging out with friends, watching movies, writing, etc.) I no longer had an interest in doing. I was a slug. And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't pull myself out of it. Why bother showing an interest in life or having fun if your family is in shambles? How can anyone be happy when the world around them seems to be crumbling?

My husband finally said something. He told me he'd noticed a change in me and it wasn't good. He encouraged me to get professional help, which come to think of it, must have been so difficult for him. My husband, like most men, is a fixer. He wants to fix everyone's problems. And this was one problem he couldn't fix and moreover, couldn't even identify with. That has been so frustrating for both of us.

I continued resisting until one day, I had a breakdown. I realized that I had a choice: I could either lay down and die or I could get the help I needed and make an effort to live a normal life. Those were my only two choices. And if I decided not to make a choice, I would be choosing to lay down and die anyway.

To be honest, I'm not sure what I was afraid of. Those who know me know that I'm an open book and am not afraid to share what I'm feeling or thinking...which my husband absolutely LOVES (yes, a little sarcasm for you ). But I was still afraid. I was afraid of admitting that I actually needed help. That I was going through something so traumatizing that I couldn't bring myself out of it. That there was something in my life I had no control over. I think that's it. Loss of control. That's one of my greatest fears.

What made me finally take the leap to go see my counselor? I knew there was a chance my life could get better. And despite all my fears, I wasn't ready to give up that chance.

And you know what? She's fantastic. Has she solved all my problems in a few sessions? Absolutely not. We have a long way to go. And I'm still struggling daily to find my "new normal." But at least I have an outlet for which to voice how I'm feeling and she has the tools to help me deal with it. It feels good to know I'm doing something proactive to get my life back on track and to start feeling more like myself again.

We only get one life to live. I don't want to waste it anymore. So I'm taking a stand. For myself. For my life. Because you know what? I have the right to live it.

Have any of you seen a counselor? Was it hard for you to take that initial first step? If so, why?


Denise said...

I just happened to look at your blog tonight, Michelle, and just have to tell you that your honesty is refreshing. It makes me miss good ol' Ferrin 2 days. :) I'm sorry to hear about your parents, but so happy to hear your marriage is so good. Keep writing!!

Robyn said...

Good for you Michelle! May you know courage as you continue this journey.

I have also found the experience of BreakThrough via Heart Connexion Ministries ( was life changing for me. One great part of it is that it takes what counseling does and puts it in to a compacted period of time whereby attaining the results of what counseling only much deeper and sooner. It was life changing and life giving next to my salvation experience and if I could encourage you to check into it or share my experience with you please don't hesitate to let me know.

God's blessings on your journey dear one!

Robyn said...

I apologize, while I double checked the address before typing it I still typed it wrong:

Mademoiselle Michael said...

I'm not sure why we have such a stigma attached to counseling...I honestly think it's one of the most healthy things someone can do for themself. It's so important for us to speak and hear our thoughts outloud. Love you! You're a rock star!

Anonymous said...

Michelle, are you still seeing a counselor? If so, are you still finding it useful? And how long do you think you'll continue. Also, could you elaborate for those of us that have never been to a counselor, how it is different:better than talking to a friend. Are your friends helpful? Or only if they are in the same situation as you? Thanks!

MVroom said...

I have stopped seeing a counselor individually but plan to go with my husband. I think the situation has evolved to the point where I no longer need counseling on my own, but instead want to go with my husband so we can prepare ourselves for how our lives will be different. I'll probably keep going on and off throughout my life as I don't think you've ever really "better" in this situation. You just learn how to deal with it.

I had never been to a counselor before last year and to be honest, was quite apprehensive. However, I found it incredibly helpful to talk with someone completely objective. My friends have been great, but there was always that fear that my confiding in them would impact how they treated or viewed my parents. Sometimes it's easier to go to someone who is far removed from the situation and can see it completely objectively. However, I will say that counseling isn't for everyone. Only you can determine if it's right for you. Just make sure to find someone you can trust with your feelings.

Counseling Jacksonville Fl said...

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