Counseling. Why is it so ‘hush hush’ and always such a big secret? I am going to hope it is an overall lack of understanding or knowledge on the subject.
Did you know that you can go to counseling and not be a schizophrenic?
Did you know going to counseling doesn’t mean you have substance abuse problems?
Did you know they let you in the door even if you aren’t bipolar, depressed, or a homicidal maniac?
People who go to counseling and then decide to open up and share with someone else that they have gone always approach it the same way that I imagine a person tells someone they are in the witness protection program. It’s a BIG secret. You can’t let anyone know that you’ve gone to counseling or else that means you’re automatically CRAZY and you weren’t ‘strong enough to handle it on your own’. That line of thinking is what is crazy.
Ready the media and have 20/20 prepare for my interview. I’m about to make a big confession.
My name is Amy and I’ve gone to counseling.
I don’t think it needs to be a secret. I didn’t go because I was crazy. In fact when I DO go, it’s because I want to be sure I’m avoiding craziness and my tactics weren’t enough at that particular time in life. I went after a good friend died. I didn’t know how to process that all on my own and I’m ok with admitting that.
I’ve gone after particularly stressful work incidents. Law enforcement is a lot less glamorous in real life than it is on TV. There is a lot of bad in the world and sometimes I needed a reminder about my own little world and how I could actively not focus on the bad or expect it. I didn’t want to be ‘cold hearted’ and ‘hardened’ from the world and that took more work than I ever thought it would. In my career, emotions have to be tossed aside and can not be the focus. Sometimes it’s hard to turn them back on again later. Let me explain that in my whole LE career I have lost it and cried one time on the dispatch floor. To put that into perspective I’m the girl that cries at Subaru and Eggo commercials.
It’s hard to turn off dispatcher Amy sometimes. Just like it’s hard for my husband to turn off cop Tom at times. (No, he definitely didn’t turn around on a car one time while he was driving his truck). It’s only natural and you train for so long that of course that is the first line of thinking sometimes. It makes me appear to not have compassion sometimes. A good friend will text me with horrible news or an emergency situation and rather than replying with the compassion part about ‘oh no, I’m so sorry’ or ‘how awful’ or ‘I can’t imagine’ I will reply with my line of questioning that I would use at work, which is immediate and fact-based. Those who know me well have learned to expect this response and don’t take offense to it. Don’t worry, when all the important things are worked out, I’ll be there to cry with them later.
Counseling is a tool that should be considered in the same way that going to the dentist is. If we care about our health, we have to make that effort. I brush my teeth every day and floss (not everyday because I’m not a superhero) and yet I still go to the dentist because there are some aspects of my oral care that I can’t examine and take care of on my own. If a tooth hurts and you ignore it and don’t get help for 6 months, you’re going to regret it and be in big trouble. Imagine if you let it be infected and cause issues for years! This is why we take the time to go to a professional. Counseling should be viewed in the same respect. Don’t let an issue bottle up for years and years.
Another misconception about counseling is that if you agree to go once now you are stuck going 3 times a week for the rest of your life. Sometimes it only takes one or two sessions to help develop a healthy plan to combat whatever is making things less than fabulous at that time. It only means you needed help from a professional for a particular challenge or issue.
September 1st last year everything in my world changed. I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but it really did alter my entire way of life. It’s only natural to struggle with emotions and feelings while learning to adapt and accept this new way of life.
We need to stop being ashamed and embarrassed about counseling. We need to think of it as a tool to keep us healthy.
Don’t be scared of it. If you need help or even just think talking to someone could possibly help, please set up an appointment. Your primary doctor should be able to give you recommendations or a referral or if you live here locally, contact me and I’d be happy to give you recommendations as well.
Being healthy is about a lot more than just physical health.