Pressing the button

The other day, I had a podcast on in the background, attempting to decompress after a stressful day. Upcoming national treasure Rylan Clark was being interviewed about his life and career. Now an established TV and radio presenter, Rylan has carved a career which is a far cry from his 'novelty act' status on The X Factor. However, Rylan, explained, a few years ago, his life and career hit an abrupt roadblock. A full nervous breakdown forced Rylan into hiding and, he confessed, that he went to the darkest of places.

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The words that Rylan used to discuss his physical and emotional state would ring familiar to any therapist. At his lowest, Ryan could barely function, but - and this is the point that really struck a nerve with me - also started to wonder why he'd done what he had done. Why had he, he asked, "pushed the button?" The metaphorical button is effectively the ejector seat in day-to-day life. The button which lights up red, shrieks at a high pitch and suggests that some sort of help is needed. Rylan had worked out what many of our clients come to, in time; that they, themselves, often trigger the beginning of their process. This realisation in itself can be both unsettling and terrifying. "Why have I decided to take away all the certainties and reliabilities from my own life, and opened myself up to so much pain?"

It's quite the moment. And, as therapists, we can explore this moment (and what had led up to it) with clients to try and bring about an understanding of past pain and trauma. We can, together, explore anxiety and stress and what is really going on. In fact, the button pushing can make our job a little easier. the client, in so doing, is reaching out for help and acknowledging that they need someone to walk with them.

By reaching the point where the client pushes the button (in whatever form this might take), it's quite simple. It's too painful to take another step, to carry on walking alone and without understanding what's causing so much pain. As painful and wrenching as it might be, by pushing the button on their own life, the client is sending out a distress signal. It's the lone, shooting firework zooming up into the night sky from the lost and drifting lifeboat on the open sea.

If you're reading this and any of it connects with you, it might be that you've reached the point where help would be of real value to you. You might not, as Rylan did, have reached the point where everyday life has become overwhelming and a huge challenge. It might be that you're feeling a little more close to tears than normal or that there's just something bothering you. Please be reassured: as a therapist, I've been there and I've seen clients who have made enormous progress and turned their lives around. They've emerged happier, more positive and better able to face the challenges of their future.

Sometimes, you need someone to walk the path with you for a while. Asking for help is in no way a sign of weakness. In fact, it's a sign of utmost strength. Whether you're ready to 'press the button' or thinking about it, please do get in touch if you think I might be able to help. It would be a privilege to walk alongside you.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Salford, M6
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Written by Matthew Nichols, BA Hons; PGCE, MBACP
Salford, M6

Matthew Nichols is a best-selling author and a psychotherapist working in private practice in Salford and Manchester. Matthew has experience working with trauma survivors, the LGBTQ+ community and young people. Matthew is currently available for sessions either face-to-face or online. To find out more visit www.matthewnicholstherapy.com.

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