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Tell Me About It

If you had a broken leg or perhaps a pain in your right foot. If your whole body was itching or even if you just felt unwell, you would (if you had any sense) go and see your doctor. It is as simple as that. Quite often, the cure for most ailments is medicine or even rest. Sometimes more drastic treatment is required, but the majority of human ailments are entirely treatable.

What of your emotional problems? What should you do if you feel depressed, lonely, afraid or just unable to cope with life? You can’t stick a plaster on a panic! You cannot literally cut out a damaging experience from your life and the subsequent fears and phobias it may give you. A pat on the back won’t take away your inhibitions or your lack of self-esteem. Like any other ailment, left to its own devices, an emotional problem will usually only worsen and begin the slow process of destroying your life. What is more, because your feelings are completely locked within the hidden world of the human brain, nobody will ever know what you are suffering.

Most of us live easier lives, compared to our great-great-great grandparents. Healthcare is such that we are almost guaranteed a healthy existence, with the prospect of living longer than previously possible. These are, of course, physical states of being; a healthy body will last you and carry you throughout your life. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean we are emotionally well. Emotional wellbeing is so often overlooked and people find it so very difficult to seek and gain help that they often do suffer in silence. There is great stigma attached to mental illness (personally, I prefer to refer to it as an emotional problem – it sounds far less intimidating). Some employers (including some public sector ones) tend to discriminate against those who seek help for their inner difficulties, rather than soldiering on as though nothing was wrong.

I want to share my own experiences of talking to someone who can help.

Counselling is good. It is very good. It is helpful, essential, natural and too often overlooked. It is about healing the mind of its turmoils and scars that have built up from the experiences of life.

A counsellor is someone who listens. They may be a female or a male – and it is up to you to decide which you feel is more suitable to you. However, gender doesn’t have to be an issue – just like your GP, they are accustomed to listening to personal problems in a dignified, professional and sympathetic manner and your gender is of no issue to the help they can give you.

As with a friend, it is important to be able to find a counsellor with whom you feel comfortable. However, this isn’t necessarily difficult; they do tend to be empathetic, sympathetic, friendly and kind. It is just a matter of your being able to appreciate that they are there to help you and that anything you say to them is confidential. This is something absolutely essential: they respect your dignity and privacy and you will never be fully identified to anyone else. The only condition they do make (which one must appreciate) is that they have someone to whom they can talk and discuss matters and, in so doing, they will identify their own patients by either an assumed name or some other method that is pretty much guaranteed to ensure your secret(s) are safe!

A counselling session usually lasts for an hour. It is very important that a set time is made and adhered to, because otherwise it may overload the counsellor – also it is important not to try to just blurt out every aspect of your life in one session. For a start, the counsellor would be emotionally and physically drained and also you, the patient, would have no specific goals to work towards. Bear this in mind, especially since your counsellor is also only human!

There is absolutely no sense whatsoever in seeking counselling, only to claim to be too embarrassed or just too stupid to open up and confide in them the things that are affecting you. If you have a deeply embarrassing, sexual problem, they are fully capable of listening and understanding, without making you feel embarrassed or stupid. Remember, it is their job to try to make you feel better! If you do feel ashamed or embarrassed, tell your counsellor. It is all about how you feel and what is going on in your mind. I am certain you will find their response to be reassuring.

So how do you talk about your problems? Simple. How do you tell your doctor that you hurt your leg while running for the bus? How do you tell your best friend about the dreadful holiday you just had? You don’t necessarily have to think about what you’re going to say, you just say it, because your mind knows how to. If you do this with your counsellor, those important feelings trapped within will soon begin to surface and, with a little gentle guidance and a few well-chosen questions, you’ll find you will start to lose your embarrassment.

It works for me and I also like to listen to other people, because I just may be able to help them to better understand themselves and heal the emotional distress they are suffering.

It is a truly healing experience, to be able to properly communicate with someone who genuinely understands. Once you have overcome your initial concerns and fears, you will gain confidence and begin to move on in your life, towards being the real and wonderful person you know you are!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article or in the comments below, are not those held by CALM or its Trustees unless stated, and liability cannot be accepted for such comments. We encourage friendly and constructive debate, but please don't share personal contact details when commenting and exercise caution when considering any advice offered by others. We don’t allow abusive, offensive or inappropriate comments or comments that could be interpreted as libellous, defamatory or commercial and we will remove these without warning as and when we find them.

7 Responses to this article

  1. I love how you said “It is a truly healing experience, to be able to properly communicate with someone who genuinely understands. Once you have overcome your initial concerns and fears, you will gain confidence and begin to move on in your life, towards being the real and wonderful person you know you are!”

    Brian 11th August 2012 at 4:19 pm
  2. I think I’ve rarely found any reading material which paralleled my own feelings so accurately.
    The opinion I now have of myself, my thoughts and feelings have all suffered very badly since my move down here some years ago due, I believe, to the indifference of my GPs and on one occasion being laughed at when asked the question ‘. . . and how is your depression affecting you?’
    I immediately stopped taking the prescribed drugs thus being able to ignore the subpoena every six months which has resulted in no detrimental effects suggesting they were useless for me.
    If one can’t depend or rely on one’s GP, a portal through which one must pass to gain entry to other services, just what IS the point? Now I don’t know which way to turn.

    Dave Crew 12th August 2012 at 12:01 pm
  3. Unfortunately, it does very much depend on the GP. I have found some to be very sympathetic and others not so. However, it is so much about money nowadays. Counselling through the NHS, to some GPs is not an option, because of the cost. I, personally, was told by my GP that it was not available to me and that I would have to fund it, myself. I am currently doing that and, quite frankly, it makes me very angry. Unfortunately, the way GPs are funded appears only conducive to their denying patients the treatment they require, in order to make more money. This is wrong and is highly damaging. The unfortunate belief being if you can give someone a drug, it’s cheaper. It makes no different whether or not it actually cures the problem. If you, for instance, take hypertension (high blood pressure) as a case; patients are given medication that will only (sometimes) cure the symptoms, not the underlying illness and this is done with little or not thought for the quality of life or long-term effects of taking medication. Giving someone antidepressants will help some. However, there are many who would benefit significantly from CBT or just being able to talk to someone. Alas, as with so much of society, even GPs appear to be somewhat distanced from their patients.

    I still highly recommend counselling. It has helped me in the past and it still doing so; enabling me to finally understand why I feel the way I do and also that I am not “abnormal”, but just a little confused.

    Graham Dudley 13th August 2012 at 9:17 am
  4. I have had one hell of a roller coaster, which turned into a downward spiral starting about 3 years ago. My father, whom I was close to and a great source of support died suddenly, my 4 year old child told me of a sexual attack that had taken place against her by one of my spouses family members. My best friend was going through crisis in his life. Work was extremely demanding and all of a sudden out of nowhere it all cam crashing down on me. I went out with my close friend who I will not name, and we spoke of this ordeal my poor daughter went through. Being four years old it was extremely traumatic for her, and her family. I tried to keep my feelings in, I did not want my baby to see me upset with what happened to her. I am the sort of person that never cries, rarely if ever but once this news was out, and I had to go on with life as normal -which to be perfectly honest was hard, its like going to work after someone really close dies, or at least that was what it felt like, I had no support nobody who would understand what I was going through, and to make matters worse I felt as though by letting this happen, which I could never of foresaw it was my fault. It was a heavy burden to carry -one night I just snapped. Now I suppose anyone could argue that I myself am a bad person or what I did was wrong, maybe, maybe not…but what would you do to protect your child. You see it all went to the authorities in Telford UK, nothing was done, it went to court and the CPS decided to through it out, so the person whom assaulted my daughter walked away scott free. I was so angry but, like a good father and person I tried my very best to put it to the back of my mind. But what a mistake that was because in a drunken fury, I stupidly set fire to the person whom acted so indecently against my daughter. Now if anyone is wondering, are you sure did this person do that to your child, then the answer is most definitely yes, my daughter described her ordeal to me the next night in gruesome detail. How he lied to her to get her pants down etc. Now I am the one suffering still after serving time in jail, quite considerable amount of time. I lost everything, my friends, career, self respect…and now I’m free I’m finding it hard not to hate, and its destroying me. I need some help. But so far there is nothing.

    Stephen 16th August 2012 at 2:22 am
  5. Stephen

    You have made a very courageous and positive start – that of sharing your pain and troubles with us. That is so very important and special. It shows, truly, that you are ready to talk about what happened and how you feel. I cannot even begin to fully understand what you must have suffered; as a caring and loving father, you tried your best to protect your daughter. That is something to be proud of; too many parents are ambivalent and disinterested.

    Hatred is something truly destructive. It is born out of deep emotions and, if not dealt with, can destroy a person’s life.

    Your feelings of anger are totally understandable. Unfortunately, we live in a country (as do lots of others) where the authorities sometimes lack the integrity to protect “ordinary” people, whereas they go out of their way to punish those they believe will harm the “elite”. There are many documented cases of people becoming angry and completely frustrated at the stupidity of some in authority and their crass, insensitive and fundamentally flawed decisions. You, it would seem, have suffered twice: once for the assault on your daughter (with all its implications) and twice because of the indifference and ineptitude of those who should have done something.

    However, you cannot go back in time and change anything. You are here now and what has transpired is with you for the remainder of your life. That does not mean to say that it has to be a totally negative and final experience. You can put this behind you and move on in your life, to a place where you want to be. Part of that is to continue loving and protecting your family and part is to grow as a person and accept that there are some things in life that are beyond your control.

    As I have experienced, myself, it is all too easy to focus the blame in these situations on oneself; that is because we are human and because we want and need to make sense of the senseless. By talking about your feelings, you begin the process of understanding and accepting the things you find difficult.

    What happened to your daughter was wrong. What happened to you was also wrong. It has happened and now you can start to put it where it belongs and move on into the future. I am certain your daughter will continue to love you even more.

    Of course, nobody understands; the was one of the points of my article. Unfortunately, they cannot because they don’t know how to. But I am certain the people reading your text will understand and totally empathise with you.

    I don’t believe you are a bad person. I think you did the wrong thing, but for the right reasons. That is entirely different.

    Perhaps you might consider contacting the CALM support. Have you also thought about The Samaritans? I’ve found them to be extremely helpful; they are there to listen and help you. There should be no stigma attached in finding the help you need. You need someone to talk to; someone who will understand. Quite frankly, I think you should be proud of yourself for opening up as you have and being objective, honest and sincere. You understand exactly how you feel, what you did and why you did it. You also accept that you did wrong. It makes you a fundamentally better person than the diseased, pathetic person who abused your daughter.

    Make a start. There is help out there. I know; I have found some for my own problems – which are in no way as upsetting and traumatic as yours. One of the ways I’ve found to help me is to write about my experiences and sharing them with others. By hearing about decent human beings like you, it helps me to put things into perspective.

    I wish I had a dad like you. Mine? Well, what can I say? A few years ago, I met someone he had worked with. He wrote to me: “In all the time I knew your dad, I knew he had a daughter, but he never once mentioned he had a son.” When I asked my dad about it, he just said “I must have forgotton”!

    Graham Dudley 16th August 2012 at 8:24 am
  6. I’ve been suicidal on and off for 9 years. And I have tried to get help when it gets bad. I aways end up facing a brickwall of people that supposed to help but don’t. The first time it happened I was beng bullied in Work and I just went as close to a nervous breakdown as anyone can. And I worked in a Profession where that was seen as a weakness. A profession which has a high suicide rate.
    I talked to people, but because of my training I found myself trying to convince them that I was strong and would get throgh this, when I was locked inside my own head one minute screaming, the next numb to all emotion.
    Then I seriously began to plan my exit and started to get everything in my life in order. Doing so, I began to have to think of what had happened to me an what I had once had and that made me so ANGRY, it actually brought me out of the suicidal thoughts and I swore one day I would see justice. Strange, being angry and learning to hate those who damaged me so much gave me the fule to carry on.
    I still bouts, in one now but I know it’s depression, not suicide and I’ll soon be back to my angry determined self. Forgetting would be the worst thing in my case. A reason to fight on is what keeps me going.

    Some One 6th November 2012 at 11:43 pm
  7. Being able to share your feelings is essential to feeling alive, good relationships and health.

    If you can share your feelings you can objectify them, get on top of them and learn to live with them. If you cannot share your feelings, you may not even be aware that you have them, and they’ll control you, furthermore you wont be able to bond with other people.

    Yes, its good to share your feelings, but if you’ve got no-one who wants to listen to you, it’s not going to happen. People who are awkward, loners, tend, I would say, to grow up in families where people aren’t willing or able to listen to their children’s feelings, so those children never learn to express their feelings; or they have such terrible feelings that need to be shared, and they need professional help because most people don’t want to hear about those feelings.

    I grew up having a lot of terrible feelings, and having no-one to share them with, so they stayed inside of me, and like I said, controlled me, hidden even from myself. One thing that helped was finding friends who were willing to listen, this required that I listen to them in return. This type of friendship helps, but it does make the relationship quite intense and heavy. Most people don’t want this type of friendship, they prefer a lighter touch, and I can see why. What has really helped has going into therapy, finding someone who is paid to listen, and has a professional training in emotional development and relationships. Its a slow torturous process, especially if you have some very difficult feelings and experiences, but once you feel comfortable talking about your feelings, you can begin to express how you feel more readily to people, which means they will understand you better and can adapt themselves to your needs more easily, which means you develop better relationships, feel more connected, alive and a part of the world.

    Dustin 21st December 2012 at 1:46 pm

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