On Friday, I had my introductory appointment with the counselling service who will be supporting me. The purpose of this appointment was to share what issues I am facing, identify ways they might be able to help and discuss what I am hoping to gain. I had to wait for around four weeks to get the call for this appointment, and have to wait a few more weeks to be assigned a counsellor. It seems a long time, but I know there are other places in the country where people are waiting months to access the help they need.
Before my counselling appointment
Before my appointment, I was really nervous. I felt terrified during the 15-minute walk between my flat and their offices. My anxiety becomes heightened when I’m going to places for the first time. My boyfriend and I had walked past the night before so I knew exactly where it was, but there were still lots of questions in my mind. It was inside a shared space – would I know where to go? What should I say? What were they going to ask me? Would they be nice?
I arrived 10 minutes before my appointment, only to see a sign which said access would only be granted at the time of my appointment. Was ten minutes too early? I panicked and stood awkwardly outside for five of them, just in case they wouldn’t let me in. Then I had to face the intercom system. I hate these because, like phone calls, I worry about what to say and how I will come across to the person at the other end. The system must be old and didn’t work properly, so I struggled to hear which didn’t help.
Nevertheless, I managed to get in, climbed to the second floor and the receptionist let me into the waiting room. My heart was pounding.
During my counselling appointment
A lady came to meet me a few minutes after my arrival. We went into a room with two chairs and a desk. It was a nice size – not too big and not too small. That may seem like an odd thing to notice, but I really didn’t know what to expect!
We sat down together and she explained what would happen. She was lovely. She asked me to fill in a questionnaire about how I had been feeling recently. After she had handed it to me, she left the room while I filled it in. I actually really liked the fact she did this because I would have felt uncomfortable if she had been sat watching me and it gave me chance to focus.
When she returned, we discussed my answers. I explained it was the anxiety which I was struggling with the most. She just let me talk, and it was nice. My voice was shaky, but I felt comfortable enough to tell her what I was experiencing. It felt nice to let it out. She responded occasionally and said things which made me feel understood. She gave me different perspectives of the situations I described and it became clear to me that counselling is probably going to be beneficial for me.
Sadly, there’s no guarantee she will be assigned to me but I felt safer in the knowledge that this person was kind and patient with me.
After my counselling appointment
I came out feeling lighter. Even though it was only an introduction, I felt as though I’d been taken seriously and it seemed like confirmation I was making the right decision to go ahead with it. I know other sessions will not be so easy. I’ve heard how upsetting and challenging they can be but I really do like the idea of having someone neutral to talk to. I love the people in my life and know they’d never judge me. Yet, I still keep things inside because I’m scared they’re too close and might have their feelings hurt.
My boyfriend text me to ask if I wanted to meet him after work to go for ice cream, and I said yes. There was still an hour before he finished work, so I went for a short walk. I sat down in the park, and stayed there for just under an hour. The time was spent admiring my surroundings and listening to music. I haven’t been able to do this for a couple of months. When I was working, I’d regularly do it on my days off. More recently, I’ve found myself feeling stressed and overwhelmed, even at the thought of it.
The sun was shining and it was so good to be outside. There have been plenty of gorgeous days lately but I haven’t always felt able to go out and face the world. Sitting there on the bench, I felt a sense of victory.
Ruth: 1, anxiety: 0.