Yep, this is a post about counseling. And let’s just start off right away with a few points.
Getting counseling doesn’t mean you’re crazy.
Getting counseling doesn’t mean you’re weak.
Getting counseling doesn’t mean you automatically need medication.
So now that that is out of the way: Counseling.
It’s a suggestion that gets tossed around a lot (I toss it around myself quite often), but it seems so often to be one of those things everyone will ‘get to someday.’
And I get that. Because sometimes life is chaos and you’re just trying to survive. You don’t have a therapist running alongside soldiers on the battlefield. “How are you feeling about this situation?! Do you want to talk about it? Why don’t we work on processing the fact that people are shooting at us?”
You’re just surviving. Processing is just not something you can do in the moment. Well, maybe some of you can. I can’t.
But those of you who aren’t in a crisis moment?
Pull up a chair. Here’s some coffee.
You need counseling.
You need counseling.
You’ve been through a lot.
You’ve watched your life fall apart.
You’ve watched your child suffer.
You’ve sat up late into the night worrying.
You’ve had to do whatever it took to help your child survive.
You’ve handed your child off for surgeries.
You’ve lived in a fog of hand sanitizer and tears and alarms, while perched precariously on a cliff, never quite sure when your feet are approaching the edge.
You need counseling.
You need someone disconnected from your life to listen.
You need to talk without the worry that you’ll offend.
You need a professional to assess if you’re struggling because life is just hard or if there are options that could help make life just that bit easier.
And many of you might be thinking what I used to think:
What the hell is a counselor going to know about my life?
Because my life is weird and we’ve gone through a lot of things that most people will never encounter.
And you’re right. They’re likely not going to understand right off the bat, but if they’re good at their job, they’ll listen and work to grasp what you’re sharing with them.
And hopefully they can offer guidance on how to process and heal. Or at the very least, be a sounding board for you.
And the sooner you can start to process, the sooner you can start to really move forward.
Life is so short. Don’t spend it just trying to keep all that trauma stuffed down under the surface. Because guess what:
It will never just go away on its own.
It will stay there.
It will fester.
It will suck the joy out of life.
And eventually, it will demand to be dealt with. It won’t allow you to ignore it anymore.
So…if it’s not going to go away, if it’s going to stay there and wait, if it’s going to slowly suck the happiness out of this amazing life you have, go deal with it.
You’re proactive with your kid’s health. You try to deal with problems quickly and effectively before they cause more harm.
Take that same approach with yourself!
Eating right, prayer, meditation, exercise, those things will help, but they’ll work best if you combine them with talking to someone who can help you work through your experiences and memories.
When life starts to calm, when the fog starts to clear, get some rest, and then gear up for the next battle.
And for those of us who shut off our emotions during a crisis, this battle might be even harder in some ways.
And it’ll probably be a long process.
I personally am getting rather annoyed at it, because good grief, the layers of trauma to sort out. And the setbacks and the health scares and the hospital stays and wanting to just curl up in a ball in your closet and cry.
But damn it all, I’m determined to love my life. I am just absolutely hellbent on making life good for myself and my family.
And we’re lucky, special needs parents!
Our kids have already turned life upside down! They’ve already forced us to narrow life down to the bare minimum of priorities! They’ve made us focus on the tiniest things in life!
We’re ahead of the game!
Do you have any idea how amazing that is?
That means we get bonus years of knowing what’s really important in life.
An easier life is a slower path. We fast tracked it.
With so many of my daughter’s health issues, we tried the slower and gentler path to fixing problems, but nearly without fail, we ended up moving on to the more extreme measures. That’s what she needed so that’s what we did.
And does it fix the problem faster? Yep!
Does it cause more trauma and pain? Yep!
Does it take longer to heal? Yep!
But then it’s done, isn’t it?
Your life underwent a major and traumatic surgery, a surgery it needed to make it better. But it was painful and it’s going to take a while to heal.
But then look at you! You’ll be able to go out and live life and enjoy it and know precisely what are the most important things.
So here’s what you do (because I know sometimes it’s hard to take that first step)
- Check your insurance benefits. You might have an Employee Assistance Program or you can contact your insurance company. Ask about counseling being covered.
- Find out where you can go locally. If there are a lot of options, ask friends or family for recommendations if you feel comfortable doing that. You could also look for one who specializes in PTSD.
- Call one and make an appointment. You can do it!
- See if this person is a good fit for you. Give them an appointment or two, but don’t be afraid to look for someone else if it’s just not the right counselor for you.
This won’t be a quick fix. There are no quick fixes after trauma. You just have to take one small slow step at a time.
But the healing isn’t something that avoidance will fix up for you.
Because, seriously, you need counseling.