OPINION

Seeing a counsellor or doctor should be the same

Going to a counsellor or therapist when you're feeling sad or overwhelmed should be as normal as going to the doctor when you have the flu.

Those aren't my own words - I came across them in a Facebook post - but they're words I resonate with. They're also words I wish I'd found a few years ago.

I never felt judged.

It took me years to find the courage to see a therapist; years longer than it should have, because my life changed dramatically for the better once I did.

I've struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember; so long that I thought it was part of my personality, something that couldn't be fixed.

But after a few major life events, a family death, new job and moving house, I was feeling worse than ever: overwhelmed.

I was lucky to have family and friends who encouraged me to talk to someone. I was nervous to seek help, afraid of being judged, but I knew things weren't going to improve by going it alone.

The best advice I had was that I might not find the right therapist first time around.

Thankfully I did, but I still went into the process knowing that finding a therapist I trusted, felt comfortable with and connected with their style of practice was important and I was prepared to return to my doctor if I didn't.

It's okay to not be okay.

My voice shook as I told the doctor why I was there that day and I could hardly hold the pen as I filled out the mental health plan, but from there things got better, slowly but surely.

And I never felt judged, if anything I realised I wasn't alone and that my feelings were valid.

I still have my therapist's number and there is the option to Skype from a regional area.

Expecting to go through life without ever feeling blue is the same as expecting to go through life without ever getting a cold.

It's okay to not be okay.

I hope by sharing my story I encourage others to seek help, because it really is the same as seeking remedy to a physical problem.

  • Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636

- HANNAH SPARKS