When I was Made to Talk

I’m writing this just after 1 in the afternoon, half an hour after a counselling session ended. I should be working but I’m a rebel. If you know about counselling, you might be asking, “But your counselling sessions are after school on a Wednesday?” Yes, they are. However, this counselling session was in school and I had no idea about it until I was in the room with the counsellor.

I’m finding it very very difficult to get my words out right now, as I did in the session, and so this post may be a little unfiltered but I’m so upset and shaky that if I don’t write it out, I’ll internalise it all. Although talking does usually help, it has the absolute opposite effect when I’m forced to do it at such short notice. It only works when I can at least gather my thoughts. If this won’t help me, I hope it’ll help you to realise that disclosing things about your own mental health should be on yr terms with your permission, rather than someone else’s. This is all fresh in my mind as I write this; I’m going to go back to this later and post it when I get home.

Now, it’s not like I had no warning. Approximately 4 months ago, when I actually spoke to my Head of Year about how bad I felt, she put me on the list to have counselling from an external counsellor in school but I never heard anything since. I thought she’d utterly forgotten because she always made me feel like my ‘problems’ were just normal hormonal things. Also, I could have refused the counselling straight off when I got in the room but I felt too awkward and guilty to do it, or even to ask not to go next week. I just felt blank and washed out and drained before it had even started because instead of talking to this counsellor – although really lovely – I wanted to talk to the one I go to on Wednesdays, Jane.

I got into the room and asked what I was here for and I was told it was for counselling. I relaxed a little as I thought I’d been in trouble; however, I still felt wildly closed off and unwilling to open up. Maybe if I’m approached it better, I would have had a better reaction but I had no time to do that. From the outset, I just knew that I wasn’t comfortable, above all because I hadn’t had time to get comfortable.

She read out some paperwork, about confidentiality (which didn’t help as I wasn’t feeling stable at all), then I signed a form about information from my sessions being used, of course anonymous, and we started. Right off, I felt disconnected and unprepared and so what I said was utterly raw, very jumbled, neither made sense to me nor her and I don’t know if it was the truth or not. I’m having a day where, with the exception of 2 hours’ solid work in History, I’m questioning my own thoughts a lot and so articulating them is so, so difficult.

Because my brain really hurts and I’m exhausted, I couldn’t have told you what I exactly said. When these kinds of things happen to me, where I panic, I often block it out to make it stop feeling overwhelming. I spoke about myself, my perception of how I feel, paranoia, how I have a distorted view of how I think, the conflict I’ve got between standards I set for myself and the expectation of failure and also not fitting the expectations of what people want me to be. I got so overwhelmed that I stuttered – something I hardly ever do – and felt absolutely cold. I mentioned the acting I did recently, how that made me feel; I talked about how behind I am in work; I talked about my general mental health and how afraid I felt that people hated me. All of this I know. What I don’t know is what she said to help; I don’t know the outcomes of the session. Instead of feeling like I could express myself, it all came out in a sick rush and I felt like I was a brick wall. I barely presented myself realistically – and yes, you could argue that the rambling, unhinged crap that came out of my mouth was me but today, I really didn’t feel well and also felt utterly out of it and unable to organise my thoughts.

After the session ended, I spoke to the counsellor casually but then just got out of there. Stepping outside, the first real thing I felt was the sun on my face and I was trembling because my thoughts were terribly confused, like they’d been shaken up. When talking to family about it, I could barely get my words out again; I texted one of my friends and couldn’t tell him much about what happened because I was in such an internal state. Part of the reason is that I wasn’t prepared; another was that because of confidentiality, I couldn’t talk about the thoughts that were really on my mind. The fact is, despite her being a really nice and patient person, I couldn’t trust her. I couldn’t trust the school and so, although she’s an external counsellor, I couldn’t trust her either.

As I’d previously expressed a need for the counselling, I don’t blame the school for how I felt. I know they thought I knew but I can’t help but be a bit upset – perhaps misplacing this upset – because it made me panic, after it was done, to an extreme. If I could have prepared myself to talk today, maybe I would have got more out of the session. If it had been in an environment where I felt secure, I could have spoken more freely. If I didn’t have the worry of confidentiality, I could have talked about more serious things without being afraid.

When I’m made to talk to someone and I’m not prepared for it, or when it falls on a day where my thoughts are really bad and talking about them is tricky, I shut off and just try and get through. Hopefully, this isn’t going to stop me from opening up in the next few days. I learned today that sometimes, I really can’t talk because I haven’t processed any of my thoughts but that’s okay. It’s not your fault if talking doesn’t help, whether always or only sometimes. People should respect your boundaries – and I know the counsellor had no time to be able to understand mine so of course I don’t blame her. I don’t even know my boundaries until they come up.

Don’t ever feel like you should be forced to talk if words just won’t come out and you can’t form them yet. It can be tricky to know when you truly feel like talking and when you don’t but if it feels utterly wrong to you to talk at this present moment, when you can’t understand what you’re feeling and it all shuts down, you don’t have to.

I don’t think I’ll go the week after next. On top of the fact that I already have counselling, the emotions brought up were too overwhelming and I felt too unhappy to constructively listen to anything. It didn’t feel freeing, or like I could trust it, or like I had another person to talk to. It just felt unpleasant to make myself talk about things that just weren’t prepared in my head.

What are your experiences with school counsellors? This counsellor was very good at what she did but just not for me and not now.

From Elm 🙂

18 thoughts on “When I was Made to Talk

    • Ahhh thanks, I cancelled it in the end – can’t believe I had the guts to do that! Also, hi, it’s great to see you around; I MUST catch up on your posts! xx

  1. Aww Elm ❤ ❤ Honestly my heart melts every time I read your posts. And I'm sorry the counselling didn't work out for you. Its not for everyone and dont feel pressurised to do something you don't feel comfortable with. maybe it'll get better over time but considering how shaken up you were, I wouldn't put myself through that again. Counselling is supposed to help you and if its not doing that, then don't force yourself. All my love Elm ❤ ❤

    • Awww thank you Ilsa, you’re great!! I didn’t go in the end; I cancelled it so YAY!!! Thank god; I was so terrified on Friday that I didn’t want to put myself through it. I’ll just try and get through this week xx

  2. I had something similar happen to me after my mother called my school to tell them a family member died they forced me into Counselling and kept bringing up things about my past to get me to talk it’s definitely a very unnerving feeling when you don’t have time to prepare yourself mentally and physically for such emotional conversations and sometimes that can be more damaging than helpful I remember for the next two weeks I can’t having anxiety attacks every time and walks with the council and warm

    • That sounds so so awful 😦 I’m sorry that you had to go through that – they shouldn’t have forced you to do that because people talk in their own time ❤

  3. You’re so right that being forced to talk when you haven’t got your head round your thoughts doesn’t help – I didn’t realise that until you said it but now it makes sense why I can’t get words out of my head sometimes, so thank you for that. I’ve been to a few counselling sessions at college supporting a friend and I have to say I am quite impressed with the college welfare system – there are always counsellors available to talk to when needed and my college has just started a mental health programme of weekly activities such as therapy dogs, organised walks etc. Although the thought of talking to a counsellor about myself still makes me feel uncomfortable, it seems to be beneficial for my friend. It was wholly unfair of your school to put you in that position – they really should have told you about the session beforehand!

    • I’m so so glad it helped your friend!!! Ohh wow, therapy dogs sound amazing; your college really seems to care about the students – I wish our school was better with dealing with mental health. They talk a lot about how much they care but when it comes down to it, they aren’t that great at SHOWING it. If talking hasn’t helped you yet, don’t force it upon yourself. However, it makes me feel a little more content that I’ve helped you realise things about yourself, in some way. Always here if you need 🙂 xx

      • Me too. Yes they are quite caring, although they’re not so good in other aspects – my secondary used to be a bit like that, they’d go on and on about how good the welfare system was but it was awful, glad I’m not there now! Thank you xx

  4. We never had counsellors at school but I always think counselling needs to take place in a calm, quiet and safe space-often the polar opposite of schools are like on a daily basis!

    • I completely agree with that. The environment utterly panicked me; I couldn’t relax at all. School was one of the main things causing me to be unhappy so though it was an outside counsellor, being in school did much more damage than good. Thanks for your comment! X

  5. I see where you’re coming from, Elm. I remember being pulled out of class in high school to talk to my counselor about college, career paths, and how I was currently feeling. Even though I tried to project a calm demeanor to the counselor, it was uncomfortable to be put on the spot and being made to talk about something I was really stressed about—especially when I wasn’t in the greatest place. It’s also hard to trust someone and feel like they care when that same person is required to talk to half the school.
    It’s good that you’re aware of the reason that the counselling session didn’t work for you. You know what’s best for you, Elm ❤️.

    • Yes, exactly – and thank you for putting it into such good words! I’m sorry that had to happen to you; it sounds really uncomfortable 😦 But I’m glad YOU knew why it didn’t work for you, too. I find it hard to trust those I KNOW will talk.
      Thanks again for commenting – what you said is so true! xx

  6. As a counsellor, that is a really great point to hear that the client needs to feel prepared for the appointment. And that they also may not feel they are able to say “I’m not ready for this today”. It makes me realise that especially with new referrals who have been waiting a while, a text reminder, or a brief meet-and-greet before the actual session might be useful. Well done on cancelling the next one since you already have some regular support in place. I’m sorry that was a crappy experience for you and glad it hasn’t put you off counselling entirely. All the best to you.

    • It’s really really lovely to read that you took things from what I said and applied it to you. Thank you so much for being thoughtful and kind. Counselling has really been helping me over the last few weeks and I’m so glad that I have it 🙂

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