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“I had been struggling with low moods and tearfulness for a number of years but it had gotten worse in the past couple of months. The GP offered me some tablets but I didn’t want medication.

"She suggested I go and talk to someone about my feelings. This took me aback - I’d actually been quite open with people about what I was going through. I’d talked to my boss and my partner. I’d talked to my friends and family members. I’d even got into a conversation with my elderly neighbour about it! Still, I made the appointment with the counsellor because I felt it was important to give it a go.

"Someone once said to me that all conversations are just two people waiting for their turn to speak. When I talked to my partner or my mother, my sister or my elderly neighbour, they were all full of stories of when they felt unhappy or when their cousin was depressed.

"One might tell me to come to church with them whilst the other might say that I should take St. John’s Wort. I was recommended to drink less coffee and more water, or camomile tea, or peppermint tea.

"Talking to the counsellor wasn’t like this at all. He listened to me… really listened, without telling me what I should do or sharing their own experiences of depression. When the counsellor did talk, it was to show me that he had been listening… from that point we started exploring ways in which I wanted to address the situation. It was a really curious experience. We weren’t talking about depression, we were talking about me and how the depression has affected my life.

"I’ve been going to the counsellor for six weeks now. You’d think that after that amount of time with somebody you’d know all about them, but in all honesty, I know very little about him.

"From his wedding ring, I can guess that he is married but I don’t know anything about his partner or his life outside of the counselling room.

"However, after six sessions of counselling, I feel I know a lot more about myself. We’ve spent that time exploring how my depression affects me but also how the roots of the problem might lie in my past.

"We’ve looked at how relationships from my past continue to influence the way in which I perceive myself and how I might approach relationships in the future.

"It’s been a strange experience, going somewhere every week and talking about myself for the best part of an hour. Far from being an exercise in navel-gazing, it’s been a great chance to explore who I am and gain some understanding about how I tick. It’s time spent focusing on me, just me.”

Taigh Sàmhchair: professional counselling and psychotherapy
Hereward Proops MBACP, registered member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
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