When is the best time to begin counseling? There is still some stigma around seeking support for emotional well being, despite it being more accepted than it was 20 or 30 years ago. If you Google counselors in the greater Portland area, the list will be so lengthy it might be too overwhelming to choose one. It is a booming business, and many counselors accept behavioral health insurance, so the cost is manageable as well. Yet there is still some hesitation, some self-consciousness associated with taking this step.
It isn’t unusual for me to meet with people who are under extraordinary stress, who are struggling to breathe amidst all the pressures of their daily lives. They know they need to take the time to sort through what is happening and how it is negatively affecting them. When they finally feel overwhelmed enough to make the call, setting up that first appointment can be challenging. They don’t want anyone at work to hear them on the phone; they can’t leave work for a counseling appointment, so everyone wants that precious 5 PM time slot. It’s a secret they hold close to avoid the embarrassment of having to confess that they need emotional support. Even though they know it will help them feel better, they postpone until they feel like they are in crisis.
Imagine, if you will, that you have a toothache. It is bothersome, and it is getting worse. It creates stress for you. It distracts you from your work and interferes in your being able to enjoy life. Would you be embarrassed to call and ask for an appointment? Would you be afraid to ask for time off to have it addressed? Would you tell your dentist that you can’t leave work for an appointment so it has to be after work hours? Would you think, I can’t deal with this now – I’ll wait until I feel better? How is emotional well being any different?
We live in a funny time. Many common health issues are a result of our lifestyle choices, and we acknowledge them without embarrassment. But when life feels overwhelming though no fault of our own, we feel awkward and uncomfortable asking for help. Seeking a professional to help you feel better in your emotional life is just as important as taking care of your physical body. If you are feeling anxious or depressed, or if you are facing a loss or an unexpected change, think of it like a toothache. Don’t wait for it to go away on its own. Let’s normalize emotional self-care and make the very most of each day.