The last 14 months have left most people feeling overwhelmed and slightly jaded. If you have spent a lot of time worrying about the future that is okay. So much change has happened over the last year. The good news is you don’t have to have all the answers. You can look back on this period and think I survived, I managed and still, I tried my best. Such trying times have made us think about our mental health a lot more. Why is it so normal for someone to post a workout video but less normal to post about exercise mindfulness? Why can’t we bring up feeling anxious more than commenting on our own appearance? While exercise has so many proven benefits for your mental health, sometimes your mind needs more.
I started therapy when I was 19. It had been recommended to me before, but it wasn’t until I was diagnosed with PTSD after I was involved in a car accident that I visited my GP and was handed the business card of my counsellor, for me to make the first call.
According to Psychology Today, there are 66 different types of mainstream therapy, this means even if you don’t think therapy is for you there are so many options you now more than ever more likely than ever to find one that suits you. I started with Cognitive Behaviour Therapy or CBT which is commonly referred to as. CBT runs off the basic principles that our thoughts control our feelings which controls our behaviours. An example of this could be if you are afraid of failing a test. You spend more time thinking about failing than studying, and you will most likely fail. Attending therapy has given me a tool to understand why I acted in this way and gave me back control in situations like this.
You also have the choice to attend a counsellor’s office or do it virtually on a platform like Better Help or My Mind. If you don’t have any local counsellors, virtual or even texting sessions could work better for you. Personally, I enjoyed going to her office, it provided me with a private and safe space to be or say what I needed to say.
Luckily I clicked with my first counsellor and I still see her 5 years on, but this isn’t always the case. You must be patient with the process and see different counsellors and agree on a person and method that suits you.
Talk therapy provided me with a space to be heard. I was 19, I had no idea what I was doing in college or who I wanted to be, what career I wanted or where I should live. I had no idea how I was going to make enough money, study to get good grades, see my friends AND get eight hours of sleep. I spent most of my time feeling overwhelmed. My head would always go to the worst-case scenario in most situations and my behaviour reflected this fear. After that I began to isolate myself, missing college, ignoring friends. I did not know how to cope.
Going to therapy slowed my world down and stopped my head from spinning off my shoulders. Speaking with my counsellor in a non-judgemental space was so freeing. Most of us will speak to someone we trust like a friend or a parent who will give their best advice but at the end of the day, they don’t walk in your shoes. You need to figure out what feels right to do for you.
As strange as it sounds, sometimes it was so good to say anxious thoughts out loud like “I think all of my friends hate me.”. We would break that belief down and I would leave knowing my friends don’t hate me, I hated me. Or the voice that I spoke to myself with did. It took time but I changed that voice in my head to be more positive. I have learned that I am the only one in my head so it’s up to me to make it a nice place. The sun won’t shine every day and on those days it rains, I need to be kind to myself by using positive self-talk and exercise the healthy habits I have adopted for myself like going for a walk with my dogs, listening to music, meditating, reducing my time on social media or just getting enough sleep.
If you would like help managing your mental health I would advise you to speak to your GP who may refer you to a local counselling service, you may be entitled to counselling through your college or university or contact Jigsaw.ie who offer free counselling for those aged 12-25
If you need urgent support or immediate assistance, especially if someone is hurt or in danger, call the emergency services straight away. Emergency services can be contacted at any time by dialling 999 or 112.
Samaritans: Speak with Samaritans directly, they are a helpline and provide a free listening service.
Phone: 116 123 (available 24 hours a day and free to call from Ireland)
Text 50808 is a free 24/7 text service, where you connect with a trained Crisis Volunteer. – Text HELLO to 50808.
Pieta House is a suicide prevention service. They offer counselling in centres around Ireland and have a 24/7 crisis helpline. Freephone 1800 247 247 or Text help to 51444
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