How therapy can change a life

(Image courtesy of Unsplash)

9th February 2021

By Elle Summers

As the pandemic continues to rage on all around us, and we continue to be locked down as a nation, many people have taken this time to reflect upon their mental health. Being stuck in one place, not necessarily with anyone to turn to can really start to take a toll, especially as currently the end does not seem in sight quite yet. On top of all the stresses of University life, without any chance of a night out to clear our heads, problems can seem to pile up and can begin to become a little too much. Interviewing a UKC student (who wishes to remain anonymous and so will go by the fake name Lyla for the purposes of this article), we discussed how the pressures of University life can force you to breaking point and what can be done to if you ever feel the same.

Lyla began by telling me a little about herself and her background explaining how that following childhood trauma, including constant years of bullying has always made her fret over the approval of others, causing her to fear being alone. Coming to University in 2019 was a big change for Lyla, like many of the rest of her cohort. But the idea of effectively starting again somewhere new, where she had no home comforts to calm her, really took their toll on Lyla’s mental wellbeing. Relying heavily on her best friend from school for support, Lyla was worried that she would soon become a burden to others as she contemplated her worries and found it increasingly difficult to focus on the positives in her life. “It was my best friend that really encouraged me to pursue the counselling that the University offer,” she told me, “he found me all the links I needed and helped point me in the right direction, and once I contacted the wellbeing team at UKC they were really helpful and understanding!”.

Lyla explained the process of signing up to counselling sessions at University and wanted to emphasise how easy the process was. After a few initial emails, the wellbeing team send out a questionnaire about your general feelings and emotional state for you to mark on a scale, they request your availability to make sure they can book appointments at times that work for you and ask if you would rather speak to a male or female counsellor. “You feel in complete control of creating the most comforting setting, so you feel safe to open up about how you truly feel,” Lyla informed me.

Lyla told me how before she had never considered counselling and was initially worried that admitting she needed help would make her look weak, yet now she assured me that her only regret was not having had any kind of counselling help earlier. Being provided a safe space to be able to talk through how she felt and get to the route of her problems made it easier to reflect upon how she could alter aspects of her life to prove to herself that she is not alone. Reaching out and speaking through how she truly felt meant Lyla could get out of her own head space and work through her problems successfully. “A problem shared truly is a problem halved,” Lyla insisted.

As Lyla embarked on her second-year studies in a new house and with the extra pressures the pandemic brought, she explained to me that she started to hit rock bottom again. The pandemic coupled with housing struggles, Lyla started to feel trapped and really alone. Yet this time she knew how to combat these fears and immediately got back in touch with the wellbeing services. “Even through the pandemic they were so helpful!” she told me. “Although the experience was a little different as we had meetings over zoom, and the idea of the safe space altered as I had to sit in a room I felt uncomfortable in to discuss my emotions, the process still had the same effect and by the end of the five weeks of sessions I was feeling more in control of my life with a clear plan of how I could again work to focus on the positives.”

Lyla’s story highlights how counselling can really help you when you feel down, even if it just provides someone to listen to you, without you feeling like a burden for off loading your problems. The safe space the wellbeing team create at UKC allows you to talk through your problems, get to the root of any issues and work towards building a roadmap as to how to alter your cognitions for the future.

Lyla finished our interview by saying “for me counselling was the best thing I could have invested in. Although having to re-schedule sessions highlights how it may not be a permanent fix, I feel in a much better position to coax myself through my problems, knowing full well that I have the backup of the wellbeing services if I need it. I would really recommend the UKC services to anyone who feels like they’re struggling. I am really indebted to the wellbeing team as without them, I know I would not be coping as well as I currently am.”

If you are experiencing any problems similar to Lyla, please check out the student wellbeing webpages for counselling sessions or other mental wellbeing activities they are hosting to help us during this hard and troubling time.

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