Yesterday I had by first councelling session. It’s been something some people have suggested I get before. Well no, my family suggest I “see a doctor” so maybe I could “get some tablets”. What is it with resorting to pills first? They tell me that I may have depression. Funny that, I don’t feel depressed, I just feel like everything is fucked, and I’m pretty sure it is! That’s not depression that’s disillusionment. And why are the only options normal or depressed or mentally ill? What if I’m none of those things? What if “normal” is nothing more than a social construct?
A couple of years ago my father left me a voice mail message telling me that I wasn’t allowed to come home until I’d sorted out my drug addiction, stopped hanging around with my Anarchist friends and got some help. Well as I wasn’t addicted to drugs it was hard to come off them and I wasn’t going to stop socialising with my friends but my family insisted I went to the doctor anyway. So, I went. The doctor handed me a questionnaire of about five questions. From this he used his super special doctor powers to deduce that I wasn’t likely to kill myself, pills would not help and I was just a bit anxious about stuff (no shit!) so he told me to look up anxiety on the internet and sent me packing. So yeah, fuck that.
I read an interesting piece once, I wish I could remember who wrote it. It said we are all putting on an act. Our outward personality is not who we are but who we want to be, a projection of our preferred self. If this is true then I can’t help but feel that what we call mental illness is often just those times were we can no longer keep up the facade, when our ability or will to keep up the pretense begins to wain or completely collapses under the pressure to “be normal”.
counsellingˈkaʊns(ə)lɪŋnounnoun: counselling; noun: counseling1. the provision of professional assistance and guidance in resolving personal or psychological problems
So anyway, I was finally presented with the opportunity to get some phone councelling. No doctor, no pills, no questionnaires, no waiting list and luckily not stupidly expensive either. I called her up at the allotted time and she introduced herself and I gave a brief explanation about what it was that I was hoping to cover. The whole thing felt really awkward, I just call up this stranger and start telling her all my thoughts and feelings that I’ve been storing away for God knows how long.
After a little while I got into it and it was quite cathartic, I could hear myself reeling off all this crap in no particular order, hardly stopping to breathe. I couldn’t help but imagine this woman with her feet up at home staring into the middle distance with a look of confusion on her face. She constantly repeated “I hear you” to the point that it really started to grate on me. “Mmm-mmm, I hear what your are saying, oh no, really? I heard you. Oh, you must feel really stuck. I hear you. I hear you. No! Not at all I really hear what your are saying, I hear that. No that’s not how it sounds, I really heard you…” Oh good God, I get it, you can hear me, great news!
Before I knew it I’d been parroting on at her for almost 40 minutes and we had to wrap up. She asked how I felt (Oh yeah she liked doing that alot too). I’d be lying if I said I felt good, spaced out and exhausted more like. These were things that go through my head every single day but this time I was saying them out loud to a total stranger. 24 hours later I’m still not sure how I feel, all I know is I can’t wait to do it again next week so that is probably telling. Though I don’t feel like any of the things bothering me are resolved (I’m not sure that is the goal of councelling anyway), I do feel better through having the opportunity to air my thoughts. To reassure me that my worries and anxieties are valid and genuine. To make me feel that there is in fact nothing wrong with feeling the way I sometimes do about life when it all gets too much, and I feel I can no longer maintain the projection of the person I want to (or should) be.
Maybe one day cousellors will be obsolete. We will live in a world where we can be truly open and honest with each other. But that time is not now, nor do I believe will it even exist in any anarchist utopia. So for now, I will be speaking to my new confidante and we will see how things go.