Why We Need to Start Thinking of Counseling Like Going to the Dentist

Counseling. Why is it so “hush hush” and often such a big secret? I think people who go to counseling and then decide to share with someone else that they have gone tend to approach it the same way I imagine a person tells someone they are in the witness protection program — it’s a big secret. They might not want to let anyone know they’ve gone to counseling, or else that means they weren’t “strong enough to handle it on their own.” That line of thinking is what is wrong.

Ready the media and have “20/20” prepare for my interview: I’m about to make a big confession. My name is Amy and I’ve gone to counseling.

I don’t think it needs to be a secret. When I go, it’s because I want to be sure I’m avoiding stress, and my tactics weren’t enough at that particular time in life. I went after a good friend died. I didn’t know how to process that all on my own, and I’m OK with admitting that. I’ve gone after particularly stressful work incidents. I’m in law enforcement, and it’s a lot less glamorous in real life than it is on TV. There is a lot of bad in the world, and sometimes I needed a reminder about how I could actively not focus on the bad or expect it.

Counseling is a tool I believe should be considered in the same way that going to the dentist is. If we care about our health, I believe we have to make that effort. I brush my teeth every day and floss (not every day because I’m not a superhero), and yet I still go to the dentist because there are some aspects of my oral care that I can’t examine and take care of on my own. If a tooth hurts and you ignore it and don’t get help for six months, you’re going to regret it and be in big trouble. Imagine if you let it be infected and cause issues for years! This is why we take the time to go to a professional.

I think counseling should be viewed in the same respect — we shouldn’t let an issue bottle up for years and years. A misconception about counseling is that if you agree to go once, now you have to go three times a week for the rest of your life. Sometimes it only takes one or two sessions to help develop a healthy plan to combat whatever is making things less than fabulous at that time. It only means you needed help from a professional for a particular challenge or issue.

September 1st last year, everything in my world changed. That was the day I was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where I stayed for five days. I eventually got my diagnosis of postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but it really did alter my entire way of life. It’s only natural to struggle with emotions and feelings while learning to adapt and accept your new life. I think we need to stop being ashamed and embarrassed about counseling and instead think of it as a tool to keep us healthy. Don’t be scared of it. If you need help or even just think talking to someone could possibly help, I recommend setting up an appointment. Your primary doctor may be able to give you recommendations or a referral.

Being healthy is about a lot more than just physical health.

Follow this journey on POTS: Finding Smiles in the Trials.

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