COLUMN: It isn’t weak to ask for help

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As a counsellor one of the most common and challenging things I am faced with is despair.

When I say challenging I mean it can be difficult to sit in a therapeutic session and watch the emotional turbulence a client is experiencing. Whilst this can be extremely distressing for the client and can move the counsellor, it provides an opportunity to embrace the situation and really work through those emotions. Despair is almost at the bottom of the pile in that it often denotes a lack of hope or insight into how to get out of a difficult situation. It sometimes feels like all opportunities and possibilities have been exhausted and there now only remains a resignation, an acceptance to the situation. These feelings will more than likely resonate with many of you as mental health problems are becoming more common and less stigmatised. The difficulty with despair is that there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel, no happy ending in sight and little motivation to make changes as the energy has been drained out of you throughout the battle. In fact that lack of energy can often be the catalyst for people resigning themselves to the situation and hitting despair. As a therapist it is easy to see how a chain of events occur to lead a person to that lowest point, but it is also encouraging that there are ways through this. People do make full recoveries and go on to lead rich, fulfilling lives. The first step to moving through despair is addressing it. Acknowledge there are things which are having a profoundly negative impact on your life and make a plan of what support you will need. This step is the most difficult as you have to be able to find that energy and motivation to be proactive and enlist the help of others. Surround yourself with a support network and don’t be afraid to disclose. It’s often a great idea to get another perspective. I have worked with many people experiencing a variety of symptoms and often having somebody listen as you recount your story can help you to put a different perspective on things. Having something to look forward to is key and I cannot stress this enough. As I have stated previously whether it is short term and ostensibly routine or long term and much more exciting, make sure you have something to strive for. This will give you the motivation to move through despair and strive towards emotional stability. It isn’t specifically about exercise or socialising as some will tell you, it’s about finding what’s right for you. Take a few minutes out of each day to do something which makes you smile. Remember it isn’t weak to ask for help and it isn’t selfish to take care of yourself.

• If you need to speak to someone, call Samaritans for free at any time on 116 123.