So, why aren’t that many people using this service?
Well, I thought back to my own personal experience with counseling. How did I finally make the decision to seek counseling after my husband’s cancer diagnosis? I didn’t really go willingly... It definitely wasn’t my idea. And, I actually fought it for several years.
I had spoken to my family doctor about the stress and anxiety I was experiencing because of my husband’s cancer diagnosis and his subsequent treatments. I was prescribed an antidepressant. And, that did seem to help some. But it didn’t “fix” everything. While it would be great to pop a pill and have all our anxiety, depression and stress just vanish, prescription medication cannot do that.
My mom asked me several times about seeing a counselor. I had lots of reasons for not making an appointment: no time, no money, not sure they could help. I was busy working a full-time job, taking care of a toddler and a husband whose cancer had, at this point in time, confined him to a wheelchair. Not only was my plate full, I think I was carrying around the whole kitchen table.
So, how did I finally decide to make that call to a counselor? The owner of the company I worked for at the time had lost his wife to cancer several years before. He told me to call and said he was going to check back with me to make sure that I did. Now, many people would say that he overstepped his boundaries with me? But, the reality is that accountability actually saved me.
I called a counseling service I found in the phone book because I liked the name (definitely not a recommended method) and left a message. Part of me hoped I wouldn’t get a call back and I could report back that "I tried". But, that is not what happened. I received a return phone call and set up an appointment. That call turned into a 4-year relationship with a wonderful counselor. I saw her regularly for 3 and ½ years before my husband died and another 6 months after his death.
After fighting the idea of a counselor for several years, I came to really enjoy my sessions and actually looked forward to them. It became a time to take care of me. I was able to talk about issues that I couldn’t or wouldn’t talk about with my husband. As a caregiver, your role is to care and support your loved one. But as a person shouldering all that responsibility and stress, you don’t have a lot of opportunity to talk about your needs, concerns and issues. Those sessions with my counselor gave me that opportunity.
I know that time in counseling helped with my own grief, and also the grief of my young son.
I believe it also helped to prepare me for my current role of CEO at Cancer Patient Services. Making that first step for me was hard. But I know that it has positively impacted by ability to move forward after my husband’s death.
If you have questions on whether you might benefit from the services of a mental health professional, here is a link to a few good articles.
1. When to seek a Professional: Mental Health America
2. 8 Signs you should see a counselor: Huffington Post
If you would like to talk to me personally about my experience, I am more than happy to share with you. Please reach out to me via email firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can make arrangements to talk in more detail.
Cancer Patient Services provides emotional support free of charge to all clients and their family members. If you would like more information on this service, please contact us at 419.423.0286 or email us at email@example.com