Earlier this year, I attended as many free counselling sessions as my university can provide, which is six. My counsellor was very clever and very nice, and I found the sessions always interesting, if not always helpful. When we came to the end of the programme, she told me that I could always re-refer myself to the counselling service, but that it was generally considered best to leave it a while before I did so, if I did so at all. This made sense to me, in so far as I rationally believed what she told me, even if I didn't quite trust it in my heart. She had done her best to instill in me the knowledge that these six sessions would not be a magic cure-all for the problems I had been experiencing, and that there would not be an instant change in my feelings. She told me that what I could do to start with was try to recognise the instances when a particular feeling arose - not necessarily to do anything about it, but simply to recognise it when it was there. She told me that this would be the beginning of 'getting over it'.
It's been a month since my last session. I'm not impatient, and I'm not expecting a miracle. I know that I can't hope to change in so short a time. I did, however, have hopes that I'd at least feel different about it. Since that session I have felt the worst feeling on a number of occasions, and I have tried to accept it and not let it overwhelm me. I have been sensible (for the most part) and done practical things when I can, and accepted the times when I couldn't. I have been more honest with more people about these times, and I have tried to let them help me by being there (or not being there). I feel like I am following my counsellor's advice as best I can. I want to feel better about it.
In fact, I feel worse about it. I don't feel that I've helped myself, or that the times when I feel bad are more bearable because I have some idea where they're coming from. They feel less bearable, because I am now able to be meaner to myself about them surely if you know where they're coming from, you can do something about them, you useless waster?. Now in addition to feeling the worst feeling, I get to beat myself up with admonishments about the worst feeling why haven't you fixed it yet?. And it's not like I didn't admonish myself before you lazy fuck. But now I have a concrete thing to fix on, it's somehow worse. I don't just feel guilty for feeling the feeling, I feel guilty for not succeeding in 'getting over it', even with the help of a trained counsellor. Why did you even bother?
Six hours. Six hours, over six weeks, and I feel I achieved less in that time and its aftermath than I would have done if I'd just sat at home and felt terrible about myself. Someone else, who could have actually used some counselling, would have had my slot. I wouldn't feel as bad about myself as I do now, and they might feel better.
It's like a drug, this feeling of doing something about it. It's sustaining. I did feel better during those six weeks. Even when I felt the worst feeling, I felt slightly detached, like I was documenting my emotion. I felt purposeful. When it descended I felt like there was some merit in simply sinking into it and seeing where it led. It didn't lead anywhere good, but I didn't feel so guilty about it. Now when it happens, I feel guilty and powerless and desperate. I don't have time for this! Fix it! Pull yourself together, for fucks sake.
The thing is, I don't feel able to contact the counselling service a second time. She said I could self-refer again, but that I should leave it a while why aren't you fixed yet?. I know how stretched the service is already, and I don't feel right in taking another six hours of their time why aren't you fixed yet?. I don't deserve those six hours, which could go to someone who truly needs them why aren't you fixed yet?. I could try asking my doctor to refer me for NHS counselling, although I hear from friends that it's close to impossible to get this why aren't you fixed yet?. So that leaves professional - ie. paid-for counselling, which I can in no way afford why aren't you fixed yet?.
That's right, that's the bottom line. I can't justify spending any money on my emotional well-being, because on some level I don't believe that I'm worth it. I won't spend money on feeling better, because I don't deserve to feel better why the hell aren't you better?