hello monday: vol. 18

Hello Monday. In January, I started counseling again.

I say again because about five years ago, I went through counseling for six months. The previous year I'd been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder after going to the ER and in the fall had two severe panic attacks, one of which absolutely terrified me. Something was clearly going on and I didn't feel capable of figuring it out or handling it on my own.

 
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Though I wasn't diagnosed with any additional anxiety disorders last year, nor have I had any panic attacks as severe as those initial two since, last fall, there was an unsettledness and emotional volatility I hadn't felt in years. It told me that, once again, something was clearly going on and I didn't feel capable of figuring it out or handling it on my own.

So in January, I started counseling. Again.

It's something I've neither intentionally publicized nor intentionally hidden. If I run into you before or after and you ask how my day has been, I will tell you I am on my way to or from a counseling appointment. It's not something I'm ashamed of.

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In the five years since I went through counseling the first time, I've repeatedly told people what I believe to be true — going to counseling was one of the best decisions I've ever made and I genuinely believe any person, no matter how "normal" you think your life was or wasn't, should go through counseling at some point.

Because of this conviction, I've had many conversations with friends over the years about the decision to go into counseling.

Recently, one such conversation led me to a reminder I forget often myself about weakness.

There's a certain stigma surrounding counseling and therapy as a whole. Much of our culture views such an action as a last resort or something reserved for those really messed up people who simply can't hack it on their own.

Saying you need help does not mean you are weak. Not being able to process the events that happen in your life alone does not mean that you're somehow less than. Needing the presence of a trained counselor or licensed therapist to help you walk through the events that have happened and are currently happening in your life does not mean you're beyond repair.

There are things that happen in this world that no human being should ever have to experience, which means there are things that happen in this world that you cannot — and should not — attempt to walk through alone. 

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Life has a funny way of getting at us. Events that seemed insignificant at the time can grow into seemingly insurmountable issues later in life. Lies can bury themselves deep inside our hearts and minds, making it seem impossible to find and dig out their root.

I am immensely grateful for my counselor. Five years ago and in 2018, week after week, she sits across from me and speaks truth into my life. She asks me questions I'm afraid to ask or would never have thought to ask myself. She offers perspective that I and often my friends are unable to give. She shares wisdom and insight gained through years of walking through life as a woman of God and through her training as a counselor.

If you are feeling run down by life, if you are feeling the weight of a load you were never meant to bear, it's okay to ask for help. It's okay to reach out, to tell someone you can't process this on your own.

It doesn't make you weak. It doesn't make you less than. It doesn't make you a bad Christian or a poor Christian. It makes you human. And humans need each other, plain and simple.

And sometimes humans need other humans the Lord has gifted and equipped to ask questions we won't ask, to see things we can't see, to help us process the reality of living in a fallen, broken world so we can come out of it better on the other side. 

P.S. One of these days I'll get these posts out in the morning like I originally planned. Hopefully. Maybe. We'll see.


Sarah Anne Hayes