Last year when I was diagnosed with depression, my doctor suggested I go to Counselling in Primary Care or CIPC. A free counselling service offered by the HSE with a maximum of 8-10 sessions.
I was put forward for it in the first week of June, I was the number one on the waiting list in Kerry and ended up waiting 7 weeks before getting called. I thought 7 weeks was a bit ridiculous.
Around the start of August I got a letter informing me my first session would be that Friday at 12pm.
I remember walking up the stairs towards the building, my stomach in knots as I got close to the door. When I entered, there was 2 seats in this tiny hallway and a door in front with a paper sign saying “Session in progress”. I sat down on the seat, nervous and I pulled out my phone and started playing Pokemon Go. I remember there was 3 Pokestops nearby, as I waited I watched my avatar walk to all the stops and collected a couple of items.
After 10 minutes this woman who was extremely soft spoken walked out of the room, called my name, shook my hand and invited me in. I remember sitting in this small room that had a table, 2 chairs, a filing desk, a window and not much else though there was a door off to the left of us that I was slightly curious about. I sat down on the chair, she had me go through all this paper work, telling me everything is confidential unless I plan on hurting myself or hurting someone else. In my head I was laughing.
Then she got up and opened the mysterious door to the left and when I looked inside my first thought was “Oh for fucksake, they gave me a fucking hippy”. There was crystals on the table, dimly lit lights, some tranquil music playing, candles lighting and a box of tissues on the desk. I sat down on the chair and in that second I knew I did not want to be there.
This was all that was going through my head as she was talking and I was trying not to laugh.
Over the next few weeks, I went into that tiny room for 1 hour every Friday. I sat in that chair in the hallway, playing Pokemon Go or Reading ‘Under The Banner Of Heaven’ by Jon Krakauer till I was called in. I sat down in that chair week after week and discussed things I never thought I would discuss, I think I even cried one time getting stuff off my chest. As skeptical as I was at first I actually found it helpful because on my first day I was pretty sure she was gonna try and make me buy crystals and do yoga…. I was half right, she did try and get me to do yoga and meditate. I did try to mediate but I can’t actually switch my brain off, the hamster inside is constantly on the wheel. I think I ended up only have 6 sessions out of 10. She was going on holiday for a few weeks and by session 6 we both felt that I was fine enough to end our sessions.
A few weeks later I did end up having a male counsellor for one day, an American guy. I felt so comfortable and at ease talking to him. We started off by talking about sports, American Football and Hockey. Then we moved onto the topic at hand, I had had a panic attack in college and he came to talk to me. I found myself so comfortable that he was able to calm me down and I ended up leaving the room laughing.
I would happily go see a counsellor again, there is no shame in it. I highly suggest it if you need to talk to someone. Though personally in the future, I’d prefer to pay and find someone I connect with. This isn’t me suggesting don’t use CIPC, it’s a great service in the short term. It helped me get a lot stuff off my chest and discuss my feelings with my family.
If it wasn’t for counselling, I’d probably be still bottling everything up inside and would have never started this blog because I’d have been too ashamed to discuss anything.