Updated: Nov 15, 2020

I never realised that I suffered from a mental health issue until my parents told me they were getting a divorce in February 2017. I was 28 years old. I felt like my whole world had crumbled beneath me and for the first time ever (as a self-confessed control freak) I felt out of control.

I couldn't handle all of my emotions, I had too many of them. In the first few days after I found out, everything felt overwhelming and I really struggled to focus on anything; I was upset, scared, angry and confused. It was way too much for one person to compute and I decided that this was too big for me to deal with on my own. I felt like I needed to outsource my emotions. As they often say: a problem shared is a problem halved. I made the decision to go and see a counsellor.

This was the first time I had ever considered doing any kind of talking therapy. I had friends who had been to see someone about their own mental health and I had always been supportive and encouraging of it. But I myself had never felt the need to go.

I found my counsellor through an NHS approved website that a friend recommended. Having gone through a list of approved counsellors and emailing six of them about my situation, I made my decision on who to go and see based on their replies to my email. The reply that caught my eye was one of compassion and understanding - this was the first time I realised that compatability is very important when it comes to counselling. I know some people who have tried talking therapy and decided it's not for them and I wonder if it's because they didnt have the right person for them - whether they and their counsellor were incompatible.

Given, what I considered my 'inexperience' of mental health issues and the fact that I had never done any kind of talking therapy before, I was really nervous for my first session. What if I didn't like my counsellor? What if I had nothing to say? What if I just sat there and cried? What if my counsellor judged me? What if she judged my family? What if I said the wrong things? What if my counsellor didn't like me?

My first session was the easiest conversation I had ever had in my life. All my worries melted away as soon as she asked me my first question: How are you? I don't think I've ever felt able to actually say how I feel to anyone, ever. Without worry or concern for whether I was being too self-absorbed, not interesting enough, not funny enough. I could just say exactly how I was feeling without any judgement.

My first session was exhausting. I think I cried more than I spoke. I don't think I made much sense. I remember feeling really, really sorry for myself but without any sense of guilt that I was being a burden. After that first session I felt a huge sense of relief. It was like someone had pressed a release valve in my brain. My head was still foggy and the overwhelming anxiety I had around the fact that I was being forced into a "new normal" of a broken family that I didn't want to be a part of still remained. But somehow it felt a tiny bit more manageable to deal with that now I had my counsellor.

It's been three years since my parents separated and I'm still in counselling. At first I saw it as a disaster-recovery tool; something I needed at the beginning just to enable me to get up in the morning and get through each day. Now I see it as a way of life. Talking therapy has truly helped me work through the anxiety I experienced when I thought my whole world was crumbling before me. Today I see it as more of a balancing tool, helping me to process all my emotions and not just bottle them up. It helps me be as kind to myself and my thoughts as I am to my friends and family.

Although we at Talking Mental Health believe that sharing experiences of mental health issues can help people better understand and manage their conditions, we do not condone using this website as a substitute for clinically-approved psychological or medicinal treatment.​ If you think you may have a mental health issue or may be experiencing symptoms that could be related to one, we recommend seeing your doctor.

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