It still continues to amaze me how a single conversation can drastically change the course of a life. These conversations always seem to happen at the precise moment when they will have the most impact, almost like divine intervention. I don’t really care about your religious beliefs and if you believe there is a higher power or not. I can almost guarantee you know what I’m talking about when one of these conversations happen. The stars align, the mind is open, the ears and heart actually listen. I had one of these conversations in the fall of 2018 and the action I took changed the course of my entire life.
It was a normal lunch with a friend that I hadn’t seen in a while. We sat on the patio of the Urban Grill while rain was lightly falling around us. Both of us had recently gone through career transitions and we were sharing war stories about how our new normals were fairing. Towards the end of the meal, I asked him if he had ever had any issues with anxiety and depression. He confirmed that he did and had been trying to work through them. I asked him how. He smiled and nonchalantly said, “I’ve been seeing a counselor for the last several years.” The stars aligned, my mind was opened, and I needed more information.
Over the next thirty minutes he shared his story about how he came to the realization that he should find someone to talk to. Someone he could share with in confidence and work through what he was dealing with both emotionally and physically. He shared how his counselor had helped him grow, given him coping mechanisms, and had provided him an outlet when he didn’t know where else to turn. I asked for his counselor’s name and number and reached out that same day.
I’m not going to sugar coat it or try and hide anything. I was extremely nervous and intimidated up to my first counselling session. I had no idea what we were going to discuss, what I should plan on sharing, or if I would even like the person I was about to share my secrets with, but I knew I needed someone to talk to. I wasn’t sleeping, I was worried about things outside of my control, and was surrounded by a sense of dread I couldn’t explain. I needed help and couldn’t let my nerves or the stigma that society has created about getting this kind of help keep me from moving forward.
The first session seemed to be over before it started. I shared my history, why I had called in the first place, what I was struggling with, and what I thought I needed help with. She listened intently and compassionately. Her responses were much in line with what my close friends and family had told me but, for some reason, having a complete stranger say it made it more real. She had no prior knowledge or baggage with me. She had no agenda or anything to gain from sharing her thoughts and concerns. I left that first session feeling a weight lifted from my shoulders and a sense of confidence that had escaped me for several months if not a year. I knew immediately that the short conversation that had lead to this moment had happened for a reason.
I continue to see my counselor about every three weeks. Some sessions we seem to cover a dozen different topics. Sometimes we delve incredibly deep into one specific issue. Every time I leave I feel like I’ve made the right decision. My anxiety has become so much more manageable and my mind is clearer than it’s been in years.
The other surprising outcome of this adventure is the amount of support I’ve received from friends, family, and strangers that I’ve shared this story with. So many people have seen or are seeing a counselor and it’s never really talked about. It’s amazing to me that so many individuals are getting the same help and benefit that I am but are nervous to talk about it openly because of the stigma that exists.
My network lead me to my counselor and I’m super grateful it did. I’m happier, I’m healthier, and I’m a better spouse, father, and employee. I’m sharing this story to encourage anyone who may need some help to seek that help. There are so many amazing and talented professionals who can put things in perspective, give you support, and be a set of ears when you need it. Don’t wait until it’s too late and if you don’t know where to turn, send me a message. I’m more than happy to help.