In honor of National Counseling Awareness month, today, we finish up with different signs that counseling might be something worth considering: You have thoughts of self harm or suicide.
Many times, people consider suicide as an option, not because they truly want to die, but because they don't see any other way for their pain to be relieved. ALWAYS take suicidal thoughts seriously. If you have considered suicide, contact a therapist today! It may not feel like things will ever get better, but there is hope with counseling. A therapist can help you understand what is triggering the flooding of feelings (for example, a past trauma, a current abusive situation or unhealthy relationship, undiagnosed depression, codependency), and can help you formulate a treatment plan to get you back on track to feeling better. A therapist can help you learn new and healthier coping skills to how you feel.
You struggle with the use or abuse of a a substance, or use things/people to numb feelings.
Feelings can be difficult to navigate if you didn't grow up in a family that taught you how to recognize your feelings, name them and cope with them. Often times, addictions to drugs, alcohol, people and things (such as sex or food) become a way to fill a "void" that is left by uncomfortable feelings. A good therapist can help you identify what you are using addictive behavior to "fill", and can teach you how to more effectively cope with your feelings, instead of numbing them.
You've tried many things on your own, and nothing seems to be helping.
As we say with communication-- if you try to communicate more, but you still do it in an unhealthy way, it won't make things better. It's the same with other maladaptive coping skills. Many times, we try to do something a different way, and it still doesn't work-- but the reason it doesn't work could be because it's not the right thing for you! This applies to individual issues, as well as relationship issues. If you keep trying things and nothing is working, find a professional counselor or therapist who can help give you ideas of more effective things to try!
You (or others around you) realize that you are constantly negative.
Constant negativity can be a symptom of depression. Often, when we feel overwhelmed with life, it can become difficult to see the positive things in life. If you have received this feedback (or notice it on your own), a professional therapist can help you unravel the unhealthy thought processes that keep you on a negative path.
The people around you are recommending that you "go talk to a professional".
Are you the friend that continues to complain about a situation, but you can't seem to do anything about it and your friends are getting tired of listening? A therapist can be a non-biased, neutral third party, who can help you look at your situation more objectively-- including the things that you are doing (or not doing) that are allowing you to stay stuck. Friends and family can sometimes be good at "mirroring" us, as long as we are open to their feedback. If you hear someone tell you that you might benefit from counseling, as long as they are a trusted and safe person, listen to their well-meaning advice.
You find yourself isolating.
Again, isolating yourself can be a sign of depression. It can also be a result of addictive behavior, as well as a response to feeling toxic shame about something in your life. Many times, isolation can be a result of low self-esteem, or perhaps an abusive relationship. Unhealthy behaviors tend to grow and thrive in secrecy and darkness. We all need a good support system to help us through life. If you find yourself isolating, please find a professional counselor to talk to, before things get worse.
Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling. Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.