Updated: Nov 6, 2020
Counseling has absolutely changed my life for the better. If there is one thing I can do with my life and career, I hope it is to add to the momentum in our society towards normalizing therapy. Not just when you are feeling sad, definitely not just when you are about to give up on life, but all the time. On a regular basis. Just like a regular check up at a physician’s office. Can you imagine what the world would be like, if only we prioritized mental health, as much as physical health, from an early age? I honestly can’t even begin to imagine the difference that would have made in my own life, let alone on a culture-wide or even world-wide basis.
I have been going to my current therapist for a bit over a year and a half. My experience with therapy wasn’t always a positive one- I went through several times in my life where I had completely written the concept of counseling off and decided that it didn’t work. I thought people who had convinced themselves it helped were fooling themselves, and I remember distinctly thinking that if I wanted help, it was going to be in the form of some sort of pill to make my pain subside immediately, not “talking to someone who would never understand.” I was forced to go to a therapist in order to get medicated, and I was very poor at the time, so I was thrown into a low budget mental health outpatient program.
I had a different counselor every other week, and half the time I don’t think they were even listening to me. It furthered my belief that counseling was a bunch of B.S. (and, mind you, I have a degree in psychology! I had spent years researching all sorts of different therapies and programs, but I still felt this close minded to the idea!) I was using drugs heavily at the time, and in a very self destructive place, and being tossed around from underpaid therapist to the next in the system was making things worse. I discovered how easy it was to lie and cover my tracks when it was someone new listening to me every week, so I would just say whatever got me out of there the fastest. At one point I was even prescribed conflicting medications because of all the inconsistencies. After a few months of this, I was at the lowest point I had ever been at mentally, and I am honestly surprised I made it through.
The thing is, when you are in that place and all the ways people are trying to help you seem like a bunch of crap, it’s one of the scariest places to be. Nothing seems to be helping- and the reason is, no matter what the situation- you have to want to get better. But that’s not even enough- I always wanted to “get better.” I would have loved to wake up the next day with all my mental health problems behind me and feeling like I could breathe again, or be happy to be alive. Nope, just wanting to get better isn’t enough- you have to want to do the WORK to get better. That is a HUGE part of it. And who WANTS to do extremely painful soul searching hard work to reprogram their destructive thinking patterns, when they are already feeling lower than they ever have? I was plagued with clinical depression, unstable mood swings, memory loss, drug abuse and suicidal idealization. I didn’t feel strong enough to do any work to help myself and I was starting to not even care.
If you are in that place, and you feel alone, I urge you to seek help. I know it seems daunting and scary. I know you are tired. I know you don’t want to. But the thing is, there are so many good people out here who DO care and want to help. Both in the field of psychology and outside of it. I urge you not to give up because there IS hope and another side to it and I am living breathing proof of that.
The only thing that worked for me was moving and completely changing my environment, building a network of positive minded and supportive people who love me and want to help me succeed, and working through the things that caused my problems in the first place with a therapist who is committed and reliable. It took me some research and time to find someone I felt comfortable doing that kind of deep trauma healing work with, and it has literally changed my whole life. I feel like a new person- left with some serious scars from the person I used to be, but with a new lease on life.
This is why it’s so important to normalize therapy, before a crisis. Our mental health care system is flawed and ruled by money- and low income options leave MUCH to be desired. Half the time they make the problems more difficult for the people who are already struggling- like what happened in my situation. Good options DO exist for affordable prices, but finding those requires time and effort- time and effort you can not possibly put forth while in crisis. It would change life for so many people and even save lives to normalize having a healthy outlet at ALL times, and therefore preparing for potential mental breakdowns before they even happen.
It’s like, if you drove your car until you completely ran out of gas, and then left it on the side of the road and walked to the nearest gas station. That wouldn’t be a very efficient or safe way to travel, and you are at the mercy of whatever gas station you find yourself near. Not a great situation. You don’t have a lot of options at that point, and I don’t know too many people who would ever purposefully handle traveling in this manner. Wouldn’t it make more sense to do some research ahead of time, find out all the reachable options, and drive to the best one while you still have gas, and then fill it up preemptively? And that is what we all do, is it not? If we can have that much foresight into driving a vehicle, can we not find it within ourselves to see the importance of also having that much foresight while “driving” our minds?
If you need help finding therapy, here are some resources I have compiled that may be helpful. You are not alone! And even if you are not currently in crisis- hell, even if you are just the happiest S.O.B. in the world, I urge you to research and get set up with a therapist. Most insurances cover it but there are also sliding scale options for those without insurance. And know that unfortunately, YOU MAY HAVE TO TRY MORE THAN ONE OPTION before you find a good match. It’s unfair and it sucks because it’s a vulnerable process to start with, but it is better to get any potential bumps in the road out of the way in the beginning. Doing the work to find a good therapist while you are feeling “okay” is such an important gesture of self love- because even if you never have another mental breakdown, you have not lost anything by establishing a healthy and trusted outlet for yourself. You only stand to gain, and grow from here.
**I am not a certified mental health professional. I speak only from my own experience and research, and my educational background in psychology. I am not attempting to portray any sort of professional in this post, nor diagnose anyone. I encourage readers need help to consult with someone who is professionally trained in mental health.**
RESOURCES I HAVE FOUND- PLACE TO START LOOKING FOR HELP-
EDIT- Added Resources:
https://www.columbusrecoverycenter.com/depression-resource-guide/ (recovery center page with a list of mental health resources, focus on national associations, and depression)
Everyone's Counseling Center in Orlando is offering 2 free video or telephone mental health therapeutic sessions.
(From their site https://eccflorida.org -"This includes all medical personnel, those in grief due to the loss of a loved one, those who have lost their jobs and/or insurance. We will confirm your need and schedule your 2 sessions with one of our caring therapists. This can be accomplished through video or telephone therapy. Please contact our office at (407) 423-3327, press extension 110 to speak with our intake specialist.")
Central Florida Resources- as found on https://eccflorida.org
** Resource options vary based on location. I have more resources listed for Florida than anywhere else because that is where I live, but I want to expand this list and make it as comprehensive as possible. If you have vetted, reliable resources in another area of the country that may be relevant, please submit to firstname.lastname@example.org so my team and I can review them and add them to this list. Helping others to find mental health care is one of the most important and empathetic things we can do.**
CENTRAL FLORIDA HELPLINE 407-333-9028 (Christian Helpline) FLORIDA HOSPITAL PSYCHIATRIC HELPLINE 800-869-1616 (Suicide & Rape Response)
LAKESIDE ALTERNATIVES CRISIS UNIT 407-875-3700 (Orange County FL only) SOUTH SEMINOLE HOSPITAL 407-767-1200 (Children Crisis Unit) SEMINOLE COUNTY MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS UNIT 407-321-4357
PARK PLACE BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CENTER 407-933-0077 (Osceola County) FLORIDA DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE 800-500-1119
NO ABUSE 407-999-9703 (Anger Management classes for abusers)
DRUG HELPLINE 800-662-HELP (Information & Referrals)
AA HOTLINE 407-521-0012
AA SPANISH HOTLINE 407-240-1181
NARCOTICS ANONYMOUS 407-425-5157
CHILD ABUSE HOTLINE 800-962-2873 (Tallahassee/DCFS)
CHILD PROTECTION TEAM- HOWARD PHILLIPS CENTER 407-317-7430
THE HEALING TREE 407-246-8007 (Sexual Trauma recovery center)
ARNOLD PALMER HOSPITAL FOR CHILDREN & WOMEN 407-649-9111
FAMILY COURT EDUCATION & MEDIATION SERVICES 407-931-1778
UNITED WAY CRISIS HOTLINE 407-835-0900
THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR 386-738-9169 (DeLand)
THE COMMUNITY COUNSELING CLINIC 407-823-2052
CARING.COM (800) 973-1540
Assisted Living in Florida https://www.caring.com/senior-living/assisted-living/florida
START YOUR RECOVERY https://startyourrecovery.org/treatment/rehab-centers/florida/orlando
ABOUT ASSISTED LIVING AboutAssistedLiving.org https://www.aboutassistedliving.org/contact-us
**I will be expanding on this list with time!