Welcome back! Today I am honored to have guest Adrian Stouffer with us. I officially met her at a small gathering last December. The conversation turned to impactful issues, such as depression and mental health stigmas that still exist. With Mental Health Awareness month AND tender life stories in mind, Adrian willingly agreed to write a guest post about counseling. Meet Adrian and hear her wisdom ..
Unstable. In a bad place. Going through some things.
These are unfortunate words and phrases we often hear associated with someone who is seeking counseling. But why is counseling associated with negativity rather than resolution?
Considering the inherent nature of humans and the complex dynamics of our relationships, aren’t we all going through something at any given time? Life is complicated and messy at times. By reducing the stigma that counseling is for “crazy people,” we open the door to many people who could benefit from these services without feeling ashamed for doing so.
In my mind, when someone goes to a counselor, they are seeking a solution to a problem in their lives; they are actively pursuing an answer to something they need resolved. To me, this is strength. Perhaps, because I have lived it, I understand the value of counseling.
Let me tell you more…
Several times in my life –my parents’ divorce, uncovering the origins of my depression in my late teens, in anticipation of my marriage in my mid-20s and determining whether I should go back to work after having children in my early 30s – I have sought counseling.
The latest example was when I was a stay-at-home mom with a newborn baby and a two-year-old; meanwhile, I was battling a rare neurological disorder and simultaneously missing the professional side of myself.
I was in turmoil and needed answers. I was becoming quick to anger. I felt disorganized. I wasn’t happy with myself.
How could I be going wrong in so many ways? My family and friends told me how great I was and how strong I was. Although I appreciated their support, it didn’t help me find a solution to my problems.
I knew I needed to sort things out, but I also needed someone to help guide my path. With the help of prayer, I called Holy Spirit Hospital and made my first appointment in years with a counselor. And let me tell you, those first visits were tough. Letting things surface in your mind is an emotional task that requires a lot of strength. It’s also a necessary part in finding a resolution. So, I stuck with it.
Through the counseling process, I determined that I would get surgery for my disorder even though I had a newborn baby. The counselor helped me realize it was crucial to my own well-being and consequently his. I also decided that I would go back to work, but I wasn’t sure when or in what fashion yet. It was something I prayed about and continuously sought guidance on from many people.
Looking back, I am very thankful for my experiences with the counselor because she helped me identify an underlying medical issue, make a decision regarding my career and build my courage to do something I needed to do – brain surgery. And, it wasn’t all apparent immediately either. Life has a way of being a curvy path, but I can tell you, the counseling sessions I attended helped build my emotional problem solving skills immensely.
If you’re thinking you don’t need counseling because you have prayer and great family and friends to confide in, I respect that. However, keep in mind that family and friends come with a certain amount of history and bias. Plus, it’s difficult to “let it all hang out” without the worry of being judged or inadvertently hurting that friend or family member in some fashion.
Conversely, a counselor is an unbiased third party whom is professionally trained to listen and help you develop strategies that will aid in uncovering a solution to a problem; or tools to use in addressing an ongoing circumstance; or simply someone to whom you can vent.
Is visiting a counselor on a regular basis the golden ticket to happiness? I don’t have the answer to that. What I can tell you is it’s a great start to gain perspective in a situation.
Prayer, talking with friends and family, talking to your worship leader, taking a walk in nature, meditating, making time for yourself – these are some of the many ways to nurture a healthy and well-balanced life. I encourage you to find what works for you and stick with it.
To find local counseling services in PA, start with the reputable links provided below:
Adrian is a work-at-home mom of two young sons and a wife to an amazing husband. She and her family reside in Central Pennsylvania. Adrian is also a Master Gardener Volunteer through the Penn State Extension, York County and a volunteer and board member for Holding Hope, a local non-profit organization that provides aid to families of children with life-threatening illnesses being treated at Penn State Hershey Medical Center.~~~~~~
Thank you for sharing here, Adrian! If anyone has questions for Adrian, the best way to contact her is here in the comments. Please share this post if there are people or groups who come to mind who may need these important words.
Looking ahead, next week I will explore what recovering from perfectionism looks like, at least for now. As always, you are welcome to connect with me on social media. Have a blessed long weekend. In His Love, Julie