Talking therapy: How a chair changed my life
Beth, from Cardiff, blogs about how talking therapy has helped her manage her emotions.
As I sat down in the comfy chair opposite my new counsellor, I knew this seat would change my life forever.
I never thought I would be a person who went to counselling to talk about my feelings. Although my family and friends knew me as a chatterbox growing up, I always talked about inane things, not the things that mattered.
As a teenager, I struggled with intense emotions, mood swings, feelings of anger, sadness, of being left out, and paranoia that I was being talked about.
I would feel things so strongly that everywhere on my body hurt and I would be consumed by my feelings. I used to go into my room, slam the door and play angry rock music at full volume while crying into my pillow. Sometimes I would vent through writing poetry or angrily write in a diary, anything to get the thoughts out. I never trusted anyone enough to talk about it out loud.
In my early twenties, I used the same approach (angry music and pillow crying) until I moved in with my boyfriend of four years. We were living away from home in grown-up jobs in a different place away from our families. So, when I went to my usual way of coping, he would get really confused and concerned. He thought I was being dramatic and in turn, I became very paranoid. In the end, my mood swings, paranoia, insecurities and neediness pushed him away and we broke up. However, before we did, his final act of kindness was to suggest that I should go and speak to someone about how I was feeling. I thought he was being condescending but actually he was trying to help me out of my emotional rut.
Not long afterwards, I moved back home with my parents, got a new job and nervously went to the GP. I asked about seeing a counsellor through the NHS but the GP wasn’t very hopeful and suggested maybe I look for someone private, just in case they couldn’t get me on the NHS waiting list. I never had any notification that I was on the list.
So, instead of waiting around, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I started researching local counsellors and eventually found someone I liked the look and sound of and booked my appointment.
Before going for talking therapy I was really nervous. I’d seen in films that characters who went for counselling spoke so eloquently about what they were feeling and why they’d ended up in the room.
I couldn’t sleep in the days leading up to the appointment wondering what my answer would be if asked ‘why are you here?’.
Deep down I wanted someone to come with me but wasn’t brave enough to ask. I didn’t tell anyone I was going for counselling, not my mum, stepdad or sister as I was so ashamed.
When I arrived at my appointment, I was shaking. I felt sick and I kept thinking that there were people worse off than me who needed counselling. When I was called in, I sat down and was face to face with Anna. She was so kind and welcoming and had the most relaxing voice! As soon as she asked how I was feeling, I cried and I couldn’t stop.
Just hearing that someone wanted to know how I was feeling, and was prepared to listen, was such a relief.
Anna has helped me through so much in my life and continues to do so. She helped me to get my diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder which explained my intense emotions, mood swings, lack of self-identity and my compulsive behaviours. She gave me activities to do to help assess what I was thinking and how I could think differently. She gave me the tools to help me open up to loved ones and tell them what was really going on. She reassured me every step of the way and she still does today.
Even during COVID19 and lockdown, she’s been there to support me. I was so worried when it was first announced, that I wouldn’t be able to see or speak to Anna. However, she quickly let me know that instead of face-to-face appointments, she would be doing over-the-phone appointments instead. This has been so helpful throughout this crisis. My moods have been all over the place and I’ve been feeling quite down but having Anna to speak to has really helped.
I never knew that day eight years ago, that going to see Anna would have helped me so much. Something I would say to anyone; never underestimate how a chair can change your life.
Beth lives in Caerphilly with her fiance Karl and their dog, Maisey. She regularly blogs about mental health over at Just A Square Peg (www.justasquarepeg.com) and enjoys running with a local club.
Information & Support
When you’re living with a mental health problem, or supporting someone who is, having access to the right information - about a condition, treatment options, or practical issues - is vital. Visit our information pages to find out more.
Share your story with others
Blogs and stories can show that people with mental health problems are cared about, understood and listened to. We can use it to challenge the status quo and change attitudes.