Seek help — you’ll be glad you did

I’ve been a bottle of anxiety for basically as long as I can remember. Always worried about the people around me, my own well-being, what could possibly go wrong in the future, along with many other topics of concern. These thoughts have flooded my mind for years and have sometimes taken over to the point of no return — full blown breakdown style. I always believed that I was just “very emotional” and that I needed to work on my ability to “let things go”. I was frequently told to “not think about it” and just “relax”. (Do people think this is really within my control?! Of course I’d stop thinking about it if it was just that simple!)

Six months ago at the age of 22.5 years old, I decided to do something about this ongoing “issue” after discussion with my wonderful mother. It was scary, but my mind was hindering my day-to-day life and I knew it needed to be addressed. I called up the employee assistance program and let it all out. They matched me with a fantastic counselor in the area — 5 minutes from work and about 7 from home. She was an older woman with a whole lot of wisdom and a nice dash of spunk. She was exactly what I needed at that very moment in my life.

In the beginning of our sessions, she took time to get to know me, what situations triggered the anxiety, and why it had come to the point it did. While I fortunately hadn’t suffered any major trauma, we uncovered past experiences that contributed to my need for control and she taught me ways work through the anxiety when it struck the hardest. She taught me how to get through the tough times, but also how to sit with situations that weren’t great and didn’t appear to have an upside in sight. For six months we talked about work, family, friends, hobbies, dating, other interpersonal relationships, and whatever else came my way that week. I really got a handle on why people say and do the things they do and how to work with people on different ends of each spectrum from me. With each visit and each mechanism added to my toolbox, I became more and more satisfied with my decision to seek help.

Today was my last session with this woman and I’m so thankful for the time I had with her. While I know I can always come to her should the going get tough, it was such a great feeling walking out of her office for the last time and thinking about all of the progress I had made over the past six months. I’m truly a different person than when I walked in that door. My “cup runneth over” with positive neurotransmitters, as she would say.

If you are ever feeling anxious, sad, depressed, or just different in some way, I highly encourage you to seek out help. I know it’s scary and daunting and feels like something you should be able to fix on your own — it took me close to 10 years to seek help. But we live in a tough world and sometimes we need more help interpreting this world than what our families and friends are capable of providing.

Even if you don’t think you have a specific mental health issue that needs to be addressed, talking through life’s struggles with a counselor can be beneficial to anyone. I want others like me to see that it’s acceptable to seek help and that we don’t have to “tough it out” all the time. We’re humans with intricate minds that sometimes need a bit of retraining — or just some TLC.