10 years ago, I started seeing a counselor after I was laid off from my job. Prior to that moment, I had only been taken to counselling for a short time as a child. I didn’t know how to open up as an eight year old girl, so it didn’t lead to any results.
My first regular adult counsellor took the time to understand what was going on. As it turned out, there was more to unpack than the feelings associated with job loss after the economic crash of 2008.
Since then, counselling has become a regular part of my life. Just like seeing the dentist, doctor, or RMT. It has given me the skills and ability to change my perspective of the world and to catch my thoughts before they start slipping into darker territory.
I tell people: without counselling, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. That job I lost was a gift because it’s the reason I started doing it at 21 years old instead of waiting until it was too late.
I may not have been diagnosed with chronic mental illness, but I understand that being proactive about my own thoughts can help reduce my chances of acquiring one in the future.
On a serious note, I’ve personally witnessed what depression can do to someone if left unchecked. It can contribute to much more serious diseases such as dimentia/altzheimers and psychosis.
When my thoughts spin and I ruminate, I know it’s a good time to reach out for a hand to help me out of it. It’s also a good idea to have an annual mental health checkup to catch things you may not have even been aware of before it’s too late.
Mental therapy is a form of self love. It’s meant to help you when you can’t help yourself.
This story doesn’t have a happy ending. It’s taken a lot of nerve to write this post, when it should be as banal as telling someone you went to the dentist to get your teeth cleaned. That’s why I need to share. For the people who are suffering silently.
End the stigma.
Edit: I want to add that counselling would not have been financially feasible for me at the time (2009) without support of the employer who laid me off and the counselor herself.
Even though I was working full-time, I barely made enough to cover my essentials. My severance package covered 8 sessions and I was able to add a few extra at no charge. Another centre I used in Calgary offered hourly sessions on a sliding scale based on annual wage.
Counselling is a service everyone with a provincial health card has equal access to in Saskatoon. I wasn’t aware of this at the time I began my counselling journey.
Free counselling resources in Saskatoon:
This post was originally published to the Do SASK Facebook page on January 30, 2019.