Health · Personal

Breaking the glass of the bell jar

“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.”

Today, after six sessions spread out over the past four months or so, I finished counselling. I feel quite sad about it because I had grown rather attached to my counsellor and she really seemed to understand me, but deep down, I feel something very different from sadness: I feel freedom, relief. I feel like my whole perspective on life has shifted and like I’m not afraid to face my battles head-on, asking for help and comfort from friends as and when I need it. I feel like I have served my time and now I am free to move on. I can breathe deeply and reflect, take time to look after myself and realise that nobody judges me as harshly as I do. Who knows what the future might hold? For all I know, I might spiral downwards again and find myself lost without counselling, but it’s a risk I needed to take at some point or other.

Most importantly, I don’t feel alone anymore.

My counsellor always talked about how pleased she was with my progress and how she’d seen me “flourish”, and I would have to agree, so I thought I would share with you what aspects of my personality and thinking patterns have developed and improved.

 1. I have realised that it’s okay to share my worries with other people. I don’t always have to appear strong, and there’s no need for my concerns that I’m burdening my friends with my problems. It wouldn’t be a real friendship if I couldn’t share these sorts of things with them. Before I started counselling, I felt very isolated and I was scared to share anything because I thought it would make me appear weak. I suffered silently, wrapped up in my own lonely little bubble. From now on, I will continue trying to open up to my friends more, because when you care for each other so much, there’s no room left for judgement or negativity.

2. I’ve been able to deal with coursework better. Last semester, when my depression was at its worst, I struggled to find the motivation to do anything and so I would need extensions. Even with these extensions, I would feel immense pressure because I had to force myself into doing work at the last minute, beating myself up inside because I thought I had wasted my time. Now, I plan my studying the week ahead and I’m usually able to stick to this. Also, because I’ve changed my direction and now want to focus on music education rather than performance, I don’t feel the need to be some singing superstar. In fact, I don’t feel the need to be a “superstar” at anything anymore. I’ve realised that as long I put in the effort, the results don’t really matter at this stage. I’m still learning and if I’m passing and getting by without any major problems, then that’s good enough for me.

3. I shouldn’t have any qualms about getting myself out of bad situations which are totally within my control e.g. quitting my piano lessons. It’s so important to nourish our own emotional health, rather than fall victim to emotional instability by trying to please people who don’t really matter and who aren’t good for you.

4. I’m more open to leading a diverse, fun lifestyle rather than being too concentrated on one thing, to the detriment of who I really am (i.e. singing). I don’t always have to have a fixed plan for the future and be upset at anything that gets in the way. In the end, it doesn’t really matter where we end up in life, it’s all about the moments which got us there. I’d rather have a easy-going life filled with the little pleasures and complete little goals which make me smile, rather than striving for a goal of total perfection in one area which causes me to miss out on being young and enjoying myself.

5. I don’t feel the need to compare myself to anyone anymore. They’re doing their thing, I’m doing mine, and that’s good enough for me. For the first time in years (no exaggeration!) I can genuinely feel happiness for other people who achieve things of which I dreamed up until recently. Resentment only causes further negativity. I’ve spent so much of my life chasing others down their own paths, but I’ve finally forged my own and I’m more than happy to amble along it rather than running and stumbling trying to catch up with others.

I only hope I can keep this mentality if things go sour again, which no doubt they will at some point. Depression doesn’t just go away – it resurfaces when you least expect it to, but I’m so proud of myself for finally realising what I need to do to tackle it head-on. My pathway in life is now sign-posted “recovery”.

I’ll conclude with sharing my top two recovery songs with you:

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