Thursday, 3 August 2017


So, where to begin.
I feel kinda nervous writing this post for some reason. Maybe because its pretty personal? or maybe because the experience I had wasn't all positive? I dunno. It's no secret if you read this blog, or have anything to do with my life, that I've had my fair share of mental health issues. Theres actually no doubt that everyone has suffered with mental health at some point in their lives. I've just found over the past few months how important it is to talk about your problems, acknowledge them, and find coping mechanisms to help get you through them and leave them in the past.

For the first time in years, 2017 has been the year I've focused my attention and pinpointed any issues I've had, head on. The reason for me getting over the phone counselling in the first place, is actually thanks to my amazing place of work - I've never been treated with such concern, sympathy, and patience, from my manager, the occupational health staff, and the HR department. When it comes to the well being of employees, my place of work is absolutely outstanding. I feel like joining the company at the time I did couldn't have worked out better for me. It's boosted my confidence in more ways than one; taking my first step into the full time working world, helped me grow as a professional and learn a specialised job role, and given me encouragement for my future career path. (and thats before the Occupational Health got to hear my name 42934 times in the space of 3 months - lol).

Long story short, I've suffered with the following over the past 6-12 months:
Suicidal thoughts, depression, extremely low self esteem, unstable personal identity, emotional abuse, temperamental extreme anxiety, and living with someone who is mentally unwell. I should mention now that this post is not a cry for help, neither is it a 'fad' post of claiming I have depression and anxiety and thats the reason for all my downfalls.

No, I'm merely accepting I've had mental health issues, and this is what has helped me, and might help you too.

When you first get over the phone counselling they tend to do a typical mental health check list with you. Things like, 'Are you interested in new things?' or 'Do you feel good about yourself?' and you have to answer on a rating of 1-5. 1 being never and 5 being often. Then they ask you a little about whats going on (I guess to get a brief over view of your situation), then ask when you're free/what times are good for you etc, and assign you to an appropriate counsellor.

When I first spoke to a counsellor in regards to the 'start up' of the counselling, I got a lady who I got a really good vibe from and felt at ease with her voice, tone and general presence in my ear hole. (Sounds weird but you'll get what I mean if you've ever experienced talking to someone you don't know over the phone). However, unfortunately for me she wasn't available when I needed her to be, so she assigned me to a different counsellor, which happened to be an over 60 year old man. I know it may sound sexist, or agist or whatever, but straight away I knew this wouldn't be best suited to me. I feel much more comfortable talking to women when it comes to my specific problems, especially as sometimes they are to do with male relationships or self esteem issues.

Throughout my time speaking to (lets call him 'R'), I found that the first few times I actually did feel inspired to get out of bed and do something with my time. When we first started talking I was physically stuck in bed unable to move (which I don't think he quite grasped), but eventually his wise words did make me want to get up and gain my self worth back. It was a happy coincidence that R was really into working on the computer with creative outlets, so we did have some things in common. I think a lot of my recently increased blog content is thanks to R, he kinda of reminded me that nothing comes for free, and you have to work hard at things you want to achieve/gain. We started with little tasks in regards to what I was passionate about, that I could carry out during the week. These included making my photos bigger on my blog, adding social media to the sidebar, or self teaching myself how to network - all of which I felt I achieved and felt good for.

After the first 2/3 times talking to R, I found at times I felt a little awkward and belittled by things he would say. Sometimes he would laugh at inappropriate times or make me feel a little worse/helpless for the current living situations I'm in. It's almost as though he felt as though he didn't know what to say so would make light of the situation by making a joke or laughing, (I feel this was maybe down to age difference). I found that after the 3rd/4th time of speaking to R, I dreaded every week when the call would come through. I felt as though the hour would drag, his words were repetitive and advice became stale - I even ignored the call once because I just wasn't in the mood, which is a shame because I was very open minded and had such high hopes for the source of help I was being offered at first.

All in all I had six free sessions with R. I feel like considering this was a new thing for me, I really did feel more positive and excited for the future after the first couple phone calls. It was really refreshing to speak to someone new/you didn't know about your problems. I'm very aware of blabbing to my family and friends about my personal problems quite a lot, as naturally, I'm a very open and confrontational person. However, its something I want to stop doing so much as I don't want to become known as a negative Nancy, you know?

From session 3-6, I felt the same words/phrases were being repeated, and the calls were being cut shorter and shorter due to the same things being discussed and the same solutions being suggested, which all felt a bit superficial to me. As mentioned above I'm a very personable person. So trying to grasp coping mechanisms tailored specifically to me, over the phone, all felt a bit fake? I knew from the get go I'd be the sort of person that would much prefer to get out of the house and meet someone in person for counselling sessions, especially as some of my problems were here in the household. I also think if I had someone a bit more on my level, it would have really changed my opinion on over the phone counselling. Maybe next time hey!

Would I do over the phone counselling again? Possibly. I just found it really awkward to find alone time/be in a confidential space, considering I was off sick from work and stuck in the house. Which I can imagine being the case for a lot of people who reach out for counselling. I think it would've helped me to have a focus each week to force myself to shower & get dressed for, if you get what I mean.

Have you tried over the phone counselling before? or do you have any recommendations for counselling that has really helped you?
Thanks for reading, as always!
Madi x

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