Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are solely my own, and I am not writing this to give medical advice or offer expertise.
I started seeing a counselor in February — our last session was the first week of August. I spent almost six months seeing a counselor, and I am in the exact same headspace as I was when I started.
What went wrong?
There wasn't anything wrong with my counselor. They were kind, patient, and a great listener. Every week my counselor would praise me on my progress, and remark how I was getting better at expressing my emotions.
But I wasn't being honest — with my counselor or myself.
Despite my willingness to be vulnerable, I found that I was conveniently leaving out details of what I was feeling or what had actually happened to me that week. I was putting up this image of being more okay than I was, and it placed so much guilt on my shoulders.
Each week my counselor would give me something to work on, whether it be implementing a new aspect into my daily routine, writing down notes of mindfulness to read at the next session, or even suggestions on how I can improve my mood. I would smile reassuringly, making a promise to myself that I would actually fulfill one of the goals we had made for the week.
And guess what? Those promises would always get broken.
After each session, I would close my computer (our meetings were virtual), curl up on my bed, and go back to my state of self-loathing and sadness.
Nothing we talked about ever stuck with me. I was lying to my counselor about my seemingly "great progress," my parents about how much it was helping — I was lying to myself, too.
I had gone into counseling with the mindset that a counselor would fix everything. I would suddenly find a new burst of motivation and self-confidence that I had been searching and longing for. My counselor would spring on me the magic that drives people to get out of bed and I would stop avoiding my reflection in the mirror when getting ready in the morning.
My counselor was going to be the end-all-be-all when it came to sorting out my depression.
That couldn't be further from the truth.
What started out with so much promise turned into a sort of dread that was almost counterproductive.
I got frustrated with my lack of progress, and I would come up with excuses that would allow me to cancel for the upcoming week. I was more insecure, irritable, and overall more unhappy than I had been when I started, and it was all my fault.
My counselor wasn't going to be the one to help me begin my journey — it had to be me.
Upon canceling the rest of our sessions, I began to make small efforts to reflect on how I was feeling and the ways in which I deal with my emotions. I started journaling, and I was more open with those around me regarding my mental health. I'm still trying to get to a place that will allow me to make even more strides — that would allow me to have a counselor as a tool rather than a crutch.
I could've spent hundreds of more dollars on counseling — but it would've been in vain because I was refusing to prioritize my mental health and let myself by 100% vulnerable. I have to learn how to be a friend to myself and actually want to get better.
As the old saying goes, "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."