STRESS RELIEF: Part One
So I finally decided to see a counsellor the week before last. Constant disruption from loud construction next door and chronic insomnia were ganging up to take their toll and I was starting to feel at my wits’ end and needing some perspective.
“Why go see a counsellor?” some people asked. “They won’t tell you anything useful.”
Well, sometimes that’s true. I remember the one my Mom took me to when I was 11 who told me I’d be happier if I did more housework.
(PICTURED: The only people who are generally find housework fun.)
Now if you live where I do, we get free counselling through the public health system, which isn’t always easy to access. For a start, you have to jump through so many hoops made of red tape that if you weren’t already feeling stressed and at your wits’ end before you called them, you sure will be after. You can’t get immediate help unless your situation is desperate, so you have to get a referral from your GP first. (Most GP’s are not really qualified to assist with depression, so this is a little like a diabetes clinic asking for a referral from your dentist.) Anyway. Here is where my daily miracle came into play. Some time ago I had got into the habit of clipping out items from the local newspaper that were of interest and for some reason I had ripped out an item about counselling a year or so ago and kept it. God knows why, because my attitude for over a decade had been “I can sort out my own problems myself, thanks for asking.”
(what do you mean, there are problems this can’t solve??)
I phoned the number and yes, Jack still did counselling in my area, Friday was free. No hoops, no tape. Almost immediately after I hung up the phone I felt better, as if the very act of reaching out and trying to DO SOMETHING, take action, had been a calming effect.
When I went to meet him all I wanted to talk about was my sleep issues. I didn’t want to talk about my childhood. I didn’t want to talk about my family. But this of course is what Jack wanted to know about.
See, apart from wanting a run down on what happened previously so they can gain a good perspective on the here and now, a clever counsellor knows there is usually a big difference between what you THINK the problem is and what the problem really is.
Some years ago I went to see a shoe store about sore feet and asked for shoes that would support my arches. I later got speaking with a podiatrist who said the shoes don’t strengthen the arches at all. You should in fact do specific exercises that strengthen the arches, but you have to support the whole foot.
It is the same with yourself. Sleeplessness seems to be the main issue. But it’s a symptom, not a cause. What’s CAUSING the sleeplessness?
Workmen next door, I said. I wake all the time with every nerve on edge, bracing myself for the early morning noise.
But it’s not really that. I know it too, deep down. It’s never been really that.
In Part 2 I will share some tips and tricks to do with Stress Relief, some of which you may have heard, some of which may be new to you. For now, my main points are:
- Taking positive action is a good start.
- Try to look at the whole picture.
If finding a counsellor is hard and the public system is not for you, don’t give up hope. Ask around. It is not weak to ask for help when you need it, it is smart. We were never designed to be solely self-sufficient. You aren’t stressing out the counsellor or burdening them with your problems, a truly good counsellor has a genuine desire to listen and a really, really good one doesn’t give you the answers but helps give you the tools to find them yourself.
This is a guest post from Tales of the Borderline. Part Two will be featured on their blog, once their website has been upgraded. If you found this post interesting, you can follow her here: www.facebook.com/TalesOfTheBorderline