When’s the right time for counselling? Probably last year…

How do we work out when enough has become enough? And how do we tell someone we care about that we’re worried?

This is an impossible question to answer and the hardest part can often be defining enough of WHAT? Sometimes depression, anxiety and low mood have understandable causes – bereavement, relationship breakdown, illness, work difficulties, bullying etc.. However, on many occasions the reasons are not so obvious and we struggle to acknowledge how low we feel because we can’t define a precise reason as to WHY? We know our mood is low and that life has become difficult, but we don’t feel that the reasons are valid enough. We compare our pain to those in worse situations and decide it’s our fault, we need to muscle through and kick ourselves up the bum… again… and again… and again.

To help decide whether enough has really become enough, here are 10 pointers:

  1. It’s becoming difficult to remember when we last genuinely laughed.
  2. There are too many moments when we wish we’d been a bit more patient/kind/engaged/not angry.
  3. We’ve avoided social situations which we’d usually jump at.
  4. The hours awake in the night are getting longer.
  5. The comfort behaviours feel like they might be the only thing keeping us on track (booze, food, exercise, sex, gambling…).
  6. We don’t know what to say to anybody any more, it doesn’t seem to make any difference and we feel like we’re moaning.
  7. We’d rather not go out.
  8. Not being around doesn’t seem that bad, in fact it’s starting to seem easier.
  9. There’s not very much to like about ourselves any more.
  10. We’re starting to admit that kicking ourselves up the bum isn’t working, however hard we try.

If you recognise more of these than you like, allow yourself to take action. The root causes may be obvious or not, but the effect on you and those around you is the same – you deserve to live as well as you can and sometimes this means external help.

Most clients say they wish they had come to counselling far earlier than they did. Mind’s 2014 survey of 2,000 people trying to access talking therapies via the NHS showed 67% per cent of people became more mentally unwell while waiting for therapy, 40% harmed themselves and 1 in 6 attempted to take their own life. My Client Feedback Survey for counselling reports that 97% of clients recorded a ‘significant positive effect’ or ‘positive effect’ over time once they had finished counselling.

Please don’t put off until next year what you could do today. And if you’re in the delicate position of watching someone else put it off, show them this blog and say I asked you to. It’s not an insult or a criticism, it’s because you care.