It was the best thing I have ever done for myself…

I constantly felt worried. I woke up each and every morning, realizing that life was slowly suffocating me. I felt as though I couldn’t breathe, nor could I enjoy the simple pleasures that once gave me so much happiness. I had worked so hard to create a career, find independence and thrive in a long-term loving relationship, but none of it seemed like it was enough.

There is nothing worse than feeling empty. I wondered how it was possible to feel lonely, even though I was constantly surrounded by people. I knew it was time to seek counselling after one, particularly prominent, panic attack I experienced on a sunny Sunday morning.

I had never received counselling before this. A friend recommended Calgary Counselling Centre, it was flexible with my schedule and easy to access. I started the process with individual counselling before joining the Self-Esteem group program.

At first, I felt a mixture of emotions. Relief. Guilt. Uncertainty. Sadness.

Talking about issues, especially the ones I didn’t realize were issues, was one of the hardest experiences I’ve ever had to face. As an English teacher, I am aware of the overt power of words. Once something is spoken, it almost takes on a life of its own – it becomes real in a sense.

My counsellor was amazing. The questions she posed did not inflict a sense of judgment, but were curious and thought provoking. I felt comfortable being honest with her, and that is rare in a world where appearances of strength and competency drive our every action.

After several sessions, she challenged me to push myself into the direction I had always wanted to go in, but had been too scared. The steps I took towards growth were my own, but she supported me through feedback and guidance. She gave me a multitude of tools to work with.

I found filling out the survey, before and after sessions, to be really powerful. Initially, the questions made me think of areas in my life that I frequently ignored or assumed were not connected to my feelings of inadequacy. Each time I attended, I knew what to look for, and was more conscious of the areas in my life that I needed to nurture and attend to. I also liked the fact that I was able to see how far I had come, it was a great way to visualize my progress and how life has its hiccups.

Mid-way through treatment I was at my lowest. I had broken up with my boyfriend of six years, but once I allowed myself to process the huge life-decision, my progress went on a steady incline.
Now, I feel great. My students have noticed a difference in me. I have been laughing again and now I can enjoy my days without feeling overwhelmed and anxious. I realize now that life will always be full of curve-balls, but now I have the tools to cope with the hardships when they come.

My mom asked me if going to counselling was worth it, and I told her it was the best thing I have ever done for myself.

Katherine – 26 

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