I was in seventh grade when an adult first suggested to me that I go and see a counselor. For years I didn’t understand how it could really help me. The truth is that I was afraid.
I was afraid of judgement from the therapist. I was afraid of judgement from my friends and family. I was afraid of opening up. Most of all, I was afraid to admit that I needed help.
It wasn’t until I was twenty that I decided to finally talk to a counselor.
At the time I was living in Madrid, Spain as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I had been there for about a year and it was the most rewarding work of my life.
Being a missionary made me feel so much better than I had ever felt. Unfortunately, I began to feel like that happy time would be gone forever once I was made to go back to California. The fear of returning home and going back to my depressed mental state eventually overtook me. My anxiety made me physically sick to the point that I could hardly leave the house. During this time, I had lice, the weather was dreary, and I was failing to keep my emotions in check.
As my physical health was worsening, I talked with my mission president’s wife. After several talks she helped me to make the decision to speak with a counselor.
I met with him over the phone once a week and sometimes every other week for a few months. At that point I was most concerned with being able to function and work to the best of my ability while I was still in Spain. Every week we would talk about something that I was struggling with and make goals. Little by little I started to feel better, until I finally decided that I could handle things on my own.
I decided not to tell my parents about receiving counseling until I returned to the United States. Of course, they were kind and accepting and even encouraged me to go back to counseling when I started to struggle again.
Jumping ahead a few years, I have now seen three counselors at different times and for slightly different reasons each time.
There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think of a principle that one of my counselors taught me. But the truth is that the power to change one’s life is not in the hands of a therapist. My life changed the minute I decided that I was willing to do anything to improve my quality of life.
With complete humility and a lot of hard work, my therapists have helped me to:
- Improve relationships
- Confront fears
- Find lasting happiness
- Function at work and school
- Be grateful for my trials
- Recognize when I need help
- Ask for help when I need it
- Develop my own coping strategies
- Accept my emotional side
- Turn my weaknesses to strengths
- Decide to take medication
- Be motivated
- Overcome self-harming thoughts
- Find self-confidence
- Accept failure
- Understand how to love and accept love
- Adjust my negative thoughts and anxiety
- Find talents
- Marry the love of my life
I am so grateful for all the counsel that I have received from friends, family, and professionals. If you are reading this and are in need of some strength, please contact me! I don’t give the best advice, but I am always here to listen.
If you aren’t in need of help, thank you for reading and supporting me.