TW: self-harm, suicide. I’ve seen a counselor or therapist for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I saw a plethora of school counselors until I was finally able to get my own outside therapist. I love my current therapist but without these counselors, I honestly don’t think I would have survived. These counselors went the extra mile for me and made sure that I was always taken care of in terms of my mental health.
At only 12 years old, I was really starting to struggle after my parents separated. I wasn’t eating very much, I couldn’t sleep and I was self-harming almost every day. I felt like I wanted to die. My whole world was falling apart and it felt like there was nothing I could do to fix it. I felt like I didn’t have anyone to open up to about what I was struggling with until I finally decided to open up to my cousin about what was going on. She didn’t say much about it or even make me feel better but she told my mom and that’s when everything changed for me.
I came home from school one afternoon and when I walked in my mom looked so broken. Like someone had just ripped her heart out. My heart started to race and I became incredibly anxious and panicked about what was about to happen. I couldn’t even get any words to come out of my mouth. After a long silence, she finally said “Why couldn’t you tell me?”. This hurt a lot because I had already told her so many times before that I was having a hard time and she just didn’t believe me. It took someone else telling her about what was going on to finally get her to realize that I needed help. Help that she couldn’t give me. This is when she decided to contact the school about me seeing someone.
When I was in sixth grade, I started seeing Mr. Guarino, the counselor at school. I was still in middle school at the time but I can honestly tell you that this man changed my life. I saw Mr. Guarino once a week for pretty much the rest of my middle school career. He was awesome. For the first time in my life, I felt heard and acknowledged. Like someone actually wanted to know how I was feeling and make sure that I was going to be okay. I saw him every week until eighth grade when I was finally feeling okay again. He helped me with so much. We talked about how I felt about my dad leaving and how I felt abandoned by everyone else, including my mom. He talked to me about whatever I wanted and that alone meant so much to me.
While things might have been okay by the end of eighth grade, I was beginning to feel myself going into that dark hole again. Things were really hard. With graduation and a transition to high school, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I felt like I was drowning again. But the thing that hurt me most was my dad. I invited him to my eighth-grade graduation and he didn’t even show up. I looked for his face in the crowd, only to find that he was nowhere to be found in the crowd. Instead, he taped a graduation card to the front door of our apartment. I was devastated.
At this point, I knew counseling was my only option but I couldn’t see anyone until I went back to school in the Fall because my mom wouldn’t get me a therapist, nor was there anyone to take me to and from it. It was a long summer and we had also just moved back to my hometown but I was able to see the counselor at the high school. This is where Mr. Auriantal came in. My freshman year of high school was difficult. Not only was I at a new school, struggling internally with my own trauma but my dad worked at my school.
There were so many bottled-up feelings about my parents’ divorce. I was really struggling but Mr. Auriantal certainly saved me from myself. I saw him twice a week during my freshman year. My freshman year was one of my hardest school years. I was having an anxiety attack almost every day. My palms would start to sweat, my throat would get tight and I felt like I was being suffocated. The anxiety attacks began to fade after I started seeing Mr. Auriantal. I looked forward to these days the most because this was my chance to unload everything that was bothering me. We talked a lot about my dad and how that entire situation affected me. It felt good to tell someone how I was feeling. This man has always been my savior and even to this day, he continues to check on me.
Now that I’ve introduced you to the counselors that helped, I’d love to tell you about my therapist, Jessie. This woman has done more for me than she’ll ever know. I’ve been seeing Jessie since 2017, that’s 4 years total so far. Can you believe that? She was the first therapist that I ever reached out to on my own. I’m so thankful that I chose her and never once second-guessed it. I knew she was the right choice for me from the first email she ever sent me.
Jessie has gone to great lengths to help me address my trauma, emotions and so much more. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without her. She makes sure that I hold myself accountable for the things that I can control and not to beat myself up for what I can’t. Jessie has allowed me to view my mental health in a completely different light. My mental health should be a priority, not something I’m constantly sticking on the back burner. She has allowed me to discuss things that I never knew I’d be able to fully heal from. While I may be in a good place now, Jessie and I still have plenty of work to do.
A good therapist is an important part of the healing process. Without them, I feel like there’s nobody holding you accountable for anything. They’re also a really great support system when you are lacking that with friends and family. They will always be there for you when you need them, and they’ll always be honest with you. Honestly, I have no idea what I would have done without the counselors or my therapist. They’ve all been such a great support system for me. This is exactly why I’ll always say that when you are struggling with your mental health, having a good therapist is important.
Want to know if you have a good therapist? Read this article about the signs of a good therapist!
You can also check out TurningPointCT’s resources here! 🙂