I’ve often wondered if it is only British people who appear to have been brought up with the attitude that we should sweep things under the carpet and not talk about things? Although many people do talk about issues in their lives be it with friends, family, or professionals, there are also many who don’t.
There are still those who choose not to talk for whatever reason, be it that they don’t want to, feel it won’t help, that it will be too painful or that there’s no point as we just have to carry on! Admittedly some people do appear to ‘cope’ with not talking about things, however, imagine that you have filed whatever issue it is in your imaginary filing cabinet, locked it and thrown away the key in the hope that it will stay in there forever.
However, throughout life, more things will get filed away and there is a strong chance that at some point something will happen which will cause the filing cabinet to explode, leaving everything that has ever been filed all over the floor, therefore exposing certain things that had possibly been forgotten about.
I imagine that some people cope better than others when this happens, however, I personally believe that unless we talk about these issues, at some point they will come to the forefront of your mind and could have a negative impact on your mental and physical well-being.
I appreciate that everyone is different, however, there have been times in my life when I have had to re-live incredibly painful and upsetting events and imagined that the pain would never ease, and I couldn’t see the light. I remember when I gave my statement to the police (which took more than 3 hours), the days and nights leading up to it were horrible, I couldn’t sleep, I had panic attacks, I couldn’t eat, I was scared, the thought of talking about these things hurt my heart and I was a mess afterwards.
However, I realised not long ago when I was talking about some of these upsetting events with a new friend that it felt as if I was talking about someone else, someone I didn’t recognise or that I was talking about something fictional.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not 100% over those events, however, the pain is hardly there at all and as I sat there talking to her, I even found myself saying that on some level, I am almost in a weird kind of way, grateful for having the opportunity to re-discover myself after all those years and to have found myself.
I have changed so much in the last couple of years and for the first time in my life I quite like myself!
I cannot pinpoint when or what took the pain away, in a way I wish I could because I am sure there are thousands of people who at times in their lives have been through something painful and not known how or when it will end. All I can think is that it was a combination of things, including the amazing love and support of my Mum and best friend, having the most incredibly counsellor ever (who I will always be so thankful for), completing my counselling course, time, having the opportunity to live again as well as having the most amazing daughters any mother could ask for.
Unfortunately, there’s no magic cure for when things happen in our lives and those who reach out to their GP will no doubt be referred to the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service, which generally offers someone 6 sessions of CBT and hey presto that’s supposed to solve everything!! Don’t get me wrong, I am not against CBT, I do feel it has its uses and I will no doubt use it at times once I am qualified. However, CBT in most instances will only be a short-term fix, like a plaster, unless it is offered in combination with other therapies such as counselling.
The reason the NHS like to use CBT is because it is short and easily measurable meaning that they can say that x amount of people have successfully completed therapy offered by the NHS and it is relatively cheap because it is limited to a small number of sessions. However, recent research has shown that more and more people are returning to their GP’s and being re-referred to IAPT, proving that it isn’t as effective as they claimed and that it will now end up costing the NHS even more money.
When it comes to counselling, (unless through the NHS or certain organisations), there isn’t a limit on the number of sessions you can have, because everybody is different and so you can’t know how many sessions individuals will need. I knew when I started having counselling that the limited number of sessions offered by the NHS wouldn’t cut it, and here I am 2 years later, still having counselling and I will no doubt be having counselling for quite some time to come.
There are some people who still judge those who have counselling and believe that it is a sign of weakness or that there is something ‘wrong’ with someone who has counselling. I would certainly have a few select words to say to those people. When it comes to physical health, people don’t question those who go to the gym regularly as we know it’s good for us so why should having counselling be any different? As we know more than ever, taking care of our mental health is as important as taking care of our physical health.
It is an honour to know that clients come and open up to me about very personal things in their lives, particularly as I am aware that there are some people who do not feel that they can talk to anyone.
I genuinely hope that people feel able to reach out to someone to talk to without feeling judged.