Yesterday was my last counselling session and I don’t quite know how to feel. On the one hand I’m terrified it’s over; on the other, I have this odd sense of happiness that I don’t know how to place. It’s not a feeling I’m used to.
I sent an email to two of my teachers on Tuesday because my mental health has got to the point where I’m finding it hard to function. It started with the words, “I’m finding it incredibly difficult to write this email. However, expressing how I’m feeling in person is getting increasingly more difficult.” I still wrote it, a 700-word long email that took me an hour to put together. My mum encouraged me to talk about my feelings to the school after I’d spent a while crying to her. Without counselling, I know I couldn’t have done that.
That email was the culmination of many things. I’d gone to talk to my history teacher before the Easter holidays, terrified out of my mind because of how behind and overwhelmed I still was. In the holidays, I tried to give myself a mental break and it might not have worked to the extent that I’d wanted but it was a start. Yes, I didn’t get much work done but the alternative was to exhaust myself again.
Jane, my counsellor (or former counsellor, now) is amazing. In our last session, when I told her about the open conversations I’ve been having with my dad and the way I didn’t feel so “desperately alone” anymore, I said that – for the first time – I was properly proud of myself. That openness and honesty was because of me, not because of anyone forcing me. I’d done it when I’d felt ready, without intense amounts of pressure. It felt real, like the results were tangible. I suppose they are, really.
I can see them in the way I talk to people. As I said in my email, “I feel ill and worried pretty much all the time” but that doesn’t mean there aren’t people there. I may not be okay but actual evidence, rather than paranoid fears, has shown me that I’m capable of talking to people.
Of course, there are consequences. Because of the school confidentiality rules, it’s being shown to my other teachers and the head of Sixth Form. I knew all this before I wrote and sent the email – I think it’s part of the reason I did it. I needed people to understand, to hear it through my own words. Explaining it vaguely hasn’t been enough and trying to hint at how I feel in lessons is so exhausting that I just can’t do it.
Perhaps this will change things. There may only be around 6 weeks left of proper teaching; I may not catch up on all of my work but I at least want to make a difference for myself. I’m incredibly pessimistic so it might all go to shit but the pessimism isn’t all-consuming, all the time. Having no counselling on a Wednesday is going to be painful at first and I’ll need some kind of support but it doesn’t feel insurmountable anymore. God, 6 months ago, I wouldn’t even have been able to say that sincerely, or to wish for it!
There is hope for the future. Last Saturday, I spent the day with Pearl and two other friends and we watched Love, Simon, which was one of the most heartwarming things I’ve ever seen. Pearl and I got lost in the cinema and spent an hour, whilst waiting for my dad to come and pick me up, talking. I didn’t feel like she was going to hate me; I didn’t feel like I was faking part of my personality to stop her hating me. It just felt nice, and happy, and calm. Examining my emotions, not criticising myself for having a good day and letting myself feel is one of the things we focused on – without explicitly stating that – in the sessions I had with Jane.
All of this is a beginning. It won’t solve everything; it hasn’t even got close. However, these achievements – whatever they’re worth – show me I’m not the worst person alive, as I said to Jane yesterday. I’m going to go back to the GP at some point but at least I know that support is there. At least I’m holding onto that support.
I have to take things one step at a time, in my own time. The feeling of relief and the lack of violent upset that accompanies that is beautiful. At least to me.
From Elm 🙂