I’ve had this post in my drafts for ages and kept giving myself reasons to not post it. Then I saw some of Rio Ferdinand’s documentary, not all of it but I’m so glad therapy and counselling is finally being talked about.
When I was 17 one of my closest friends died, suicide. Up until that point in my life I’d had one other friend die from a brain tumour when I was 13. The thing with suicide is it feels like a ’’grown up’’ death in a weird way. I remember thinking I’m only 17, suicide shouldn’t factor into my life this early, hell it shouldn’t ever factor into my life! Losing a good friend is never easy, especially if you don’t understand why you lost them in the first place.
I was at sixth form when it happened and I said to one of my tutors ‘’my friend’s committed suicide, it hasn’t sunk in yet but when it does I need to know if there’s any form of support for me.’’ I was so blunt about it, it didn’t feel real so I had no feeling (other than the first wave of tears) but I knew when it did come it would hit me like a tonne of bricks. And I was SO right. Sitting watching the Inbetweeners Movie of all things and I suddenly realised they were gone. That was it. Their life was done and there was nothing that would change that. Typically it was on a Friday night and I had the whole weekend to wallow in self pity. I went into sixth form on the Monday morning and spoke to the same tutor who basically said ‘’Hmm well we have something in place for bullying, but not death. I’ll have a word and see what we can do’’. See what we can do…..? They ended up not knowing what to do, and spoke to the local council who put me in bereavement counselling sessions. They were free and there was every chance they could work so I went along to the first one with a fairly open mind.
It was horrendous. They asked why I was there, what had happened, details about my life, my family, everything. I felt like I was being interviewed and at the end this woman basically went ‘’So yeah I think this will be the best thing for you’’ and set me up for a 6 week course of bereavement sessions. I went back the next week and it was a different bloke, who asked all the same questions and again felt so uncomfortable. He then commented that it was strange I didn’t cry. I don’t cry in front of strangers. I wasn’t about to cry in front of this man I’d never met, and he said ‘’Well when you’re more comfortable I think we’ll see some tears’’ it felt like he thought I was faking and actually wanted me to burst out crying? The next week about half an hour before my session I broke down. I sat in my room crying and trying not to be sick when mum said I needed to get ready to leave and practically begging her not to make me go. I texted the councillor and said I don’t think therapy is the thing for me and they said ok don’t worry, come back if you need to. It all felt very dismissive and I felt a bit let down…. I completely understand that it was a free service, they didn’t have to etc. but they made me feel about an inch small. The thing I learned after that was that the more I spoke about therapy, the more people around me opened up. I learned about friends, family members, and teachers who all said they’d had therapy at some point in their lives. There’s so many different types, no two therapy sessions will be the same because people deal with things in different ways.
I gradually learned to realise that it’s ok. It’s ok to cry, sometimes to the point where your eyes are burning and you’ve got no energy left over after. If not those feelings will bottle up and it’ll be something stupid like burning toast that’ll send you into hysterics. I haven’t cried about it for about 3 years now, but by no means have I forgotten it. I haven’t forgotten that gut wrenching feeling of reading the message from mum…. “it was suicide.” I haven’t forgotten how it felt having to tell other friends, I haven’t forgotten sitting in my room that night crying until I had nothing left, and sitting holding my phone hoping for that text to come through saying it was a mistake. The text that would never come. And that’s ok.
We need to learn to talk about things, there’s some horrible stigma around therapy, and that needs to stop. I know I’m not the first person to ever say it and I definitely won’t be the last. It’s ok not to be ok. You don’t have to have it together all of the time, you aren’t a robot, or a superhero. The sooner people start talking about their problems and realising everyone is going through something, it becomes slightly easier to deal with knowing you’re not alone.