For those of you who don’t know, I am a Volunteer Counsellor for ChildLine and have been for some months now! ChildLine is a listening service for children and young people where they can get in touch via email, instant chat or phone calls. We will listen and support young individuals through the tougher times like losing someone they love through to simply talking about the kind of day they’ve had. I absolutely love it and the role played a massive part in me deciding that yep, counselling is it. I hope to write another post in the future, for those who are interested, with more detailed information about the recruitment process, the training and what it’s actually like on shift.
But for now, this post is about learning that it’s ok to accept help.
I recently informed a supervisor, after a particularly low point in my struggle with OCD, that I have this disorder. As you would expect from such a setting, they were kind, calm and understanding. They asked if they could do anything to help me at ChildLine which I replied with “no, I’m fine”. In all honesty, I did think this was the end of my disclosure. However, not long after this, it was recommended that I attend another meeting to discuss what could be put in place to basically make life easier for me.
Now this recommendation made me feel all sorts of things as soon as I received it. I began writing out an email of “no thanks, I don’t need (or should I say want) the fuss”. I worried a bit about being the centre of attention and actually about being judged for my mental illness. I found my response really interesting (talking like a Counsellor already see). For someone who is so passionate and open-minded about mental health, I found that I actually judged myself! I thought that now others knew about the OCD, they were going to think I wasn’t capable and that I was some vulnerable, feeble human being. It really dawned on me how afraid I still am of the stigma surrounding mental health.
In the end, I came to a conclusion of: why shouldn’t I accept the help being offered to me? I felt very nervous on the day of talking to my supervisors about my mental health but it went fine (as everything does 99% of the time despite my incessant worrying). I work in a very supportive setting with a very supportive team. The meeting really did give me the opportunity to reflect and understand myself a bit more as bloody clichéd as that sounds!
I learnt that:
1. I need to talk to others to offload otherwise I will carry it around with me. People can’t read minds, particularly mine!
2. I have such an inflated sense of responsibility, something that does come as a symptom of OCD. It is this that can cause the most distressing thoughts of all.
3. There’s so much good stuff going on for me at the moment but my OCD is getting in the way of me fully enjoying it. And this needs to change.
Dare greatly as my lecturer would say. Take that chance if you’re struggling and reach out for help. You might find yourself pleasantly surprised.
If you are, or know of, a young person under the age of 19 in the UK looking for support or just someone to talk to, ChildLine are there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.Follow the link here for the website where you can access the 1-2-1 chat service.And the phone number (which is free of charge) is: 0800 1111