In the early days of my career, I remember hearing stories that made me question whether behavioral health was really for me. As mental health and substance abuse professionals, we see and hear a lot.
Ultimately, though, I realized that helping people in their darkest moments comes with a heavy weight but not an unbearable one. Soon, I was getting used to hearing stories that, before, I wouldn’t have fathomed could be true.
“Used to” seems an odd way to put it, but I do not know how else to say it. As therapists, we get used to hearing stories of trauma, used to late-night calls from an individual in crisis, used to advocating for change and then hearing why change didn’t occur. We gladly take on these challenges.
What we don’t get used to is people dying.
Randall has worked with a Diakon Family Life Services counselor since he left rehab, as he continues his recovery from addiction. He is in his eighth year of sobriety.
I started drinking when I was 16. I stopped at age 51. During those years of alcohol addiction, I also used drugs for a period of time. Drinking and partying became an everyday ritual, something I believed was part of me. When it all got so bad—when I found myself in such a dark place that I was unable to help the people I cared about the most, my family—that’s when I realized I needed help.
Counseling can be of assistance in a wide variety of situations. Several families, for example, mention the impact it’s had on their lives in edited excerpts below. To learn if it might benefit you, see advice below from Laurel Spencer of Diakon Family Life Services …
• “I’m a single mom and messed up royally when I was younger. My youngest child, for example, has struggled with feeling abandoned. And who could blame him? His father told him that I should have had an abortion because having him ruined his life! My son wouldn’t sleep alone for years; it was hard for me to leave him. I sought out counseling for him but then realized I also needed an outlet. I’m still struggling but my son and I went to counseling together and I learned what he needed to have from me. I also learned how to better handle the stress of raising my children alone. Counseling definitely helped us.”
• “My husband and I sought marriage counseling after becoming involved in foster care while also caring for our other children and grandchildren. There was never time for just the two of us. My husband thought counseling was a waste of time but went because he knew it was important to me. Communication was our key issue. Now, thanks to counseling, we are open to communication and pay more attention to each other. Counseling has allowed us see there needs to be “us time” and even parent/child time with each of our children. In fact, we hire a sitter once a month so that we can do something with our older kids. Before going to counseling, we had simply spread ourselves too thin.”
There’s no question about it: We live in a complex world that sometimes presents us with difficulties we’re not sure how to address.