Mental HealthMH Treatment & Recovery

A Journey Through Counselling

Something needs to change and I need help to get me there.

Welcome, my friends, to counselling!

I’ve written previously about how it’s OK to admit that you’re not OK (  However, it’s one thing admitting to the struggles of the past from a position of strength, as the conqueror standing tall over your vanquished opponent; it’s another matter entirely admitting to current struggles and speaking from a place of vulnerability and unknowing. It’s bloody hard I can tell you!

But admit it I will, because for me it is a way of exercising some strength and control at a time when I don’t feel particularly strong and in control.  I’m not ill, I know that. I also know that I’m not in a good place and I need to do something about it. This is a call to change and I need to heed it.  Anyway, if it’s alright for Tony Soprano then it’s alright for me.

I expect I won’t publish this series of posts until I’m out on the other side of whatever it is that I’m going through. Whilst I’m no actor and anybody around me will notice that I am not myself right now, I don’t want anybody to worry about me and I don’t wish to seek sympathy. (Alright hun?).

And, if I’m honest, I don’t want to further expose myself while I am feeling so raw.

I do however want to document this experience, believing as I do that this is a pivotal chapter in my story, a moment pregnant with opportunities to learn important lessons about myself and my life.

“Telling your story is an essential tool for genuine catharsis. A story of what you are going through gives your experience form, places it outside yourself for consideration by yourself and others. A good story requires a certain clarity that comes from honesty and the willingness to forego excuses and caveats.”

The above quote comes from a book that I picked up 12 years ago, ‘Dark Nights Of The Soul‘ by Thomas Moore. The book’s title is an expression that resonates strongly with where I feel I am. According to the sleeve, these dark nights are not the enemy, but ‘times of transition, occasions to restore yourself, and transformational rites of passage.’

I have previously undergone two periods of psychotherapy under clinical psychologists to help me to climb out from the depths of depressive illness. This time the purpose is different. Perhaps the best explanation again comes from the sleeve of Moore’s book,

“Society tends to view these ‘dark nights’ in clinical terms as obstacles to be overcome as quickly as possible. But honouring these periods of fragility as periods of incubation and positive opportunities to delve into the soul’s deepest needs can provide healing and a new understanding of life’s meaning.”

I hate being told what to do.  HATE it.  I’m someone that needs to understand the reasons behind things.  If I know why I’m being told to do something then I can get on with it (whether I can do that happily or not is another matter!).  It’s this that’s ultimately led me to counselling – I know that I need help to understand myself, to understand what’s behind the thought processes and the choices that have brought me to this point in my life.  I know that changing thoughts is the key to changing our experience but in order to do that I need to understand why I think the way I do, which will then help me to better understand my subsequent emotions and behaviours.

I have found an amazing counsellor to help me navigate my way through my dark night, to help me to take off the handbrake and live my life fully as who I was supposed to be; free from the insecurities and misconceptions that are keeping me stuck and preventing me from being all that I can be.

After three sessions I have already gained some significant insights into my patterns of thinking and behaviour that are enabling me to make connections that previously eluded my reach.

Such insights don’t always represent entirely new information; rather they are presented in a particular way, by a particular person, in a particular context, and at a particular time of your life when you are ready to synthesise such insights, that somehow enables them to ‘click’ into place – to slot into the overall puzzle of who you are, and why you are.

One such insight explains a lot about how I’ve been feeling for the past few months. As is often the case, a good analogy helps to illustrate the point.

The Death Star is me (bear with me here), the Death Star’s Superlaser is depression. This ‘superlaser’ is a relatively small part of the whole, yet its destructive capability gives it a power and a presence wholly out of proportion to the reality of what constitutes the whole.

That such damage can and has been wreaked by this weapon has left a lingering wound, a sense that somewhere inside I am somehow ‘broken’, or at the very least that I risk being broken again.

And that my friends, is bollocks.  In the light of awareness, darkness can no longer exist.

Rather than fixing something that is broken (it isn’t), through therapy I am in a process of ‘polishing my rough edges’. This isn’t about needing to make massive changes to who I am, it is about questioning and building my sense of self, the core sense of who I am in my soul, distinct from the real and perceived judgements of others and the stories I have told myself regarding how and where I fit into the world.

Jung discusses the process of telling our story in the imagery of alchemy:

“The selfish hardness of the heart is dissolved, the heart turns to water. The ascent to the higher stages can then begin.”

Moore asserts by extension that,

“Your story is a kind of water, making fluid the brittle events of your life. A story liquefies you, prepares you for more subtle transformations. The tales that emerge from your dark night deconstruct your existence and put you again in the flowing, clear and cool river of life.”

It is time to write a new chapter in my story, and to trust that the river of life’s flow is carrying me to where I am supposed to be.Soundtrack:
Let It Flow – Spiritualized

0 thoughts on “A Journey Through Counselling

  1. This could really inspire people to be more open on depression. Such a great open read, well done fella. I’m training up to be a counsellor and I have read about Jung. He is amazing. Apparently Alder is really good psychologist too. I wish you well on your life journey. I will follow you too.

  2. Great work Matthew! … and I think you’ve touched on a fundamental truth:

    “Such insights don’t always represent entirely new information; rather they are presented in a particular way, by a particular person, in a particular context, and at a particular time of your life when you are ready to synthesise such insights, that somehow enables them to ‘click’ into place – to slot into the overall puzzle of who you are, and why you are here”

    It’s all about how and when we connect.

    Cheers mate

  3. I so admire your openness and willingness to dive into the truly hard stuff. That takes guts, my friend. You have lots of us cheering you on, please remember that.

  4. Hey..
    Very well said… I do believe we all need some sort of counselling in our lives..
    I have also sought counselling twice when I was married (not marriage counselling..).. And it did help me to like you said to see my actions and consequences in a different light.. Allow me to process what I was doing and get the click moments I needed at the time in order to be able to make sense of what was happening and ultimately and hopefully for me understand where I was and how to move forward..

    Thanks for writing this piece…

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