How writing helped me manage my mental health
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been quite an anxious person. I tend to overthink scenarios and often get stressed over making the wrong decision.
Whether it’s something important or simply just deciding what I want for dinner, the idea of making a bad choice has occasionally led me to make no choice at all. I am incredibly hard on myself when I do make a mistake, as well.
I’m not sure when it first started, but going into my twenties it became more obvious to me that this was a problem that was holding me back. It was causing me to become quite angry that making choices was such a stumbling block for me when others around me could do so without hesitation.
Although this didn’t affect me too much in my day-to-day life (it mostly manifested itself in my private life as opposed to at work or around friends), it led me to have this pent-up frustration that resulted in me becoming quite emotional and taking it out on those I care about the most.
Fast-forward to last year (2017). I had a great job working for a national charity and on the side, as a hobby, I was regularly writing on my own lifestyle blog.
At this stage, I hadn’t really been talking too much about my mental health issues, but my favourite blogger Hannah Gale started sharing content on her blog and Youtube Channel about her mental health and how she had started private counselling. I’d never thought about private counselling really. I assumed counselling had to be “prescribed” to you by your GP.
It didn’t occur to me that, actually, counselling was indeed an option for me.
In one of her vlogs, Hannah mentioned how she found her counsellor through Counselling Directory. I decided to look it up and see if I could find a counsellor in my local area, just to have an initial conversation with and decide if counselling would be right for me.
There was nothing in particular at that stage in my life that was really bothering me. I was happy in my job and my relationship and everything in-between. But I knew I’d still benefit from having someone to speak to.
Before the first phone call, I remember feeling really nervous. I was sat in the car park by my work waiting for the call to come in. I had several questions buzzing around my head. What would she ask? Would she be nice? What if she thinks I don’t need counselling?
But 20 minutes later, as the call ended, a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I felt ready.
She asked me a few questions about myself, why I wanted to see a counsellor and when would work best for me to visit her. It’s strange, but I knew right then that she was going to be right for me.
At first, I was having sessions weekly at her home, but now my sessions are fortnightly. I talk about things that have happened since I saw her last, how I’ve been feeling and she listens and asks the right questions to make me further explore my emotions.
Learning to open up has also helped me open up more to my partner Liam, as well as on my blog. I share my experiences of counselling as well as overcoming my issues with self-belief, self-confidence and, between my sessions and using my blog as an outlet, I have never felt better about my own mental health. I have a much stronger handle on my feelings and am significantly more comfortable making decisions.
In fact, in September of last year, I made one of the biggest decisions I have ever made. I decided to start working for myself as a freelancer. I went part-time with my job at the charity and now work with small businesses to help them with their digital marketing.
Going it alone as your own boss is incredibly scary, and something I would never have done before starting my counselling journey. I have to make more decisions now as a business owner than ever before, but I can now take it all in my stride.