Bryony: Counselling is the best thing that ever happened to me
In February 2008 things started changing for me and, in a very short space of time, it became unbearable.
I was only 13 when it all started; my mum and dad became angry all the time, and would constantly shout at me for no reason at all. My younger brother and sister shouted at me too. I would get blamed for everything, whether I had been there or not. My brother and sister would always pick on me, just like the bullies at school used to do to me. The thing was, they never got told off for it; I guess in some ways what they were doing was bullying, too.
Mum and dad never saw what was going on, but always told me off for being the bully - I should know better because I was older. There were constant arguments between everyone. I always got extremely stressed, which at one point made me fairly ill but, once again, no-one ever noticed.
Over time it got worse and worse. All of this left me feeling like I wasn't loved or wanted by anyone.
I felt so alone and I didn't feel as though I could talk to anyone. What made it worse was when my mum started to hit me; she always left a red mark on me but never a bruise, so I couldn't show others what she was doing to me - I had no proof.
This is where my issues with trust started.
I managed to find a teacher at school who I knew I could talk to at any time but, a little while later, she left the school. So, again, I was alone. This then happened with another teacher and, by this time, I was a total mess.
I finally managed to get myself some counselling at the end of 2008 but, because it was outside of school, my mum had to take me, which I didn't like at all. It lasted for six months but, soon after it finished, I was back to how I was before. I managed to pluck up the courage to speak to another teacher, and in 2010 I got some more counselling, this time it was in school. But, again, soon after it stopped I was back to how I'd been before. I just felt as though no-one could sort me out. So I was left sitting in the dark, so to speak.
After the second round of counselling, things got so bad that I ended up self-harming. It was my way of trying to take my pain away. I just felt like I was a mistake, never meant to be born, like a total outcast in this world.
Sometimes I got so stressed I would start to uncontrollably shake. It made it hard to walk or do things that most people take for granted, such as being able to hold a pen. There were a couple of occasions at home when, if there was an argument, I would stop what I was doing and start saying "shut up". I would get louder and louder until I was shouting it and my face was completely wet with tears. It was only on those couple of occasions that my mum would take any notice.
I resorted to speaking to Childline, which helped a lot. And then, in November 2010, I managed to get more counselling, which again was in school - so no-one knew. By this point, I was probably at one of my worst points. I'd started self-harming again.
Every time I'd got help before, I'd always let myself get to the point where I felt totally worthless. But, with this particular counsellor, I probably made the most progress I had ever made with any counsellor. I could say that, in some ways, she saved my life. Without her, I don't know where I would be, or if I would even be alive. I don't even want to think about it anymore - not that I really have to. All I can really think about is how thankful I am that I got the help from her.
This counsellor was absolutely brilliant with me; she practically turned my life around. Since finishing my counselling sessions, I have felt a million times better than I ever did before. It feels a bit strange, but that's only because I've never really had this level of happiness before, and it's all thanks to her. I’m so glad that I can be happy now and know how to deal with things when it starts to get heated, and not get stressed about it anymore.
Counselling is the best thing that ever happened to me, and has helped me to get my life back on track; talking does help.
It's nice to know that your counsellor isn't going to tell anyone what you've said to them - you know you can trust them. You know that they are going to listen to you; unlike other people, you know that they care and that the focus is always on you and about helping you to get through whatever it is. It doesn't matter how big, how small, or how silly you think your problem is; your counsellor is always going to be there to listen to you.
Another thing I found is that a counsellor is never going to judge you, no matter what the situation is. I always kept it to myself that I was having counselling, but it's nothing to be ashamed of; hundreds of thousands of people have it every year. To loads of people, it can be the best thing that ever happened to them - like it was for me. If it so happens that you don't click with a counsellor, don't automatically give up; try to find another one, and the chances are that you will click with them.
I would recommend counselling to anyone. Have an open mind and give it a go. I couldn't be more thankful to my last counsellor for helping me to completely turn my life around. I'm happier than ever before.