Seeking help for depression and anxiety when medication alone won’t cut it

Mental health is all over the internet at the moment, which is a big step towards ending the stigma of mental illness, great! Unless you’re me, and you were on the edge of seeking therapy/counselling, until you become exposed to all of this media surrounding a whole array of mental health issues and experiences, and you think to yourself, “I’m fine, I don’t need help, these people are the ones who need it, look what they’ve been through, you’re just being a drama queen.”

Not sick enough?

A few weeks ago I went into my draft emails, and I sent the email to the counselling and psychotherapy centre. That email had been waiting in my drafts for over a year because I don’t think I’m ‘sick enough’ to need counselling. I wouldn’t want to deprive someone of that help who really needs it. I’m still going over this conflict in my head.

Anyway, I booked a session with a counsellor. I visited her the following Wednesday and it felt so good to not be judged and have someone who could listen and understand what I was feeling. She didn’t make me feel as if what I’m feeling is superficial and she listened to everything I had to say. She made sense of the things I was saying and she sympathised with how I felt.

My experience

I’m so grateful to my counsellor for that first session because now I feel so much more confident to continue with therapy (my session revealed that I have lots of areas that I want to talk about and work on). I really just wanted to share this with anyone who is in a similar situation. When you feel like you’re in a sort of grey area, a limbo… When you’re not suicidal but you’re not enjoying life either… When you’re not manic but sometimes you feel like you have no control… When you’re not bedridden but are feeling constantly unmotivated…

The point is that you deserve help just as much as anyone else with a mental health issue or illness does, but maybe it’s just a different kind of help you need, or maybe you only need guidance in the short term to learn how to manage and cope with your feelings. If you have ever had even the slightest idea that you may benefit from counselling/therapy, then I urge you to look into it. A single session has lifted a weight off my shoulders and made me feel welcome even though I didn’t think I was ‘ill enough.’

Where to look for help

I have been seeing my GP for over a year for my depression and anxiety and am taking antidepressant medication, and I think seeing your doctor is a step in the right direction as they will be able to advise you on lots of different options and can tell you what help is available through the NHS. However, if you do just want to find out more about talking therapy and try out a counselling session, there are plenty of counsellors and therapists who do not require a GP referral. Everyone deserves the right to a safe place to speak and be heard, whether they deem themselves ‘sick’ or not.

The following links are also very helpful places to go to seek help, find a therapist near you or for general information and support for mental health:

Mind (UK Mental Health charity; find urgent help, information and support, local Mind branch): http://www.mind.org.uk/ 

Counselling directory (Find a counsellor in your area): http://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/

NHS Mental Health (To find out more about mental health in general and the issues you may be having): http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/mentalhealth/Pages/Mentalhealthhome.aspx

Look after yourself

Finally I just want to remind everyone reading this to look after yourself. I know it can be hard but take care of yourself the way you would take care of a friend who was feeling down. Run yourself a bath, buy yourself some flowers, go out for a run, cook your favourite recipe… Take some time out to do what makes YOU happy.

Isobel x

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