When Saying Yes to Counseling Feels Like Failure

By Emily AllisonJuly 25, 2016

Remember: It’s not.

I want to make that abundantly clear. This is not failure.

Saying yes to counseling is a victory.

But it still can feel like failure because of the lie that says this proves you aren’t strong enough. That lie says you are weak and broken and beyond repair.

I struggle a lot with lies. I believe terrible things about my imperfections, about what they mean for my worth. So when I finally said yes to counseling, instead of rejoicing in my own bravery and willingness to fight for myself, I got stuck on one thought: I failed.

I failed to handle this all on my own. I failed to pull myself together, just like I forced myself to do every other time anxiety and depression tore me apart. I failed to just get over it. I failed to keep up appearances that I have my life together. I failed.

And maybe I did fail at those things, but I’m not sure they were ever things I was capable of succeeding at. We aren’t meant to handle life on our own. Pulling myself together only lasted for so long, especially when all I could do was put those same broken pieces right back where they came from. Getting over it didn’t help me walk through it or learn from it. And who really has their life together, anyway?

So, even if I did fail at these things, I’m going to learn to be OK with that. Because there’s one thing I didn’t fail.

I didn’t fail myself.

Saying yes to counseling means choosing something greater for myself than the struggles that have gotten me to this point. It’s going to be hard, because life is hard, but that doesn’t mean life can’t be good, too.

I’m choosing to be OK with the fact that I have struggles, but I’m not going to be OK with those struggles defining me anymore. I’m choosing to say when I have hard days. I’m choosing to see this as victory, because that’s what it is. I’m choosing to trust and hope for more in my life than the chaos, hopelessness, and shame that comes with not dealing with anxiety and depression.

This is a victory: a beautiful, life-changing victory that is as difficult as it is triumphant.

Some days that will be tough to remember. But I’m going to choose to stay focused on that victory and hold on to the hope of more victories to follow.

Needing help is nothing to be ashamed of and getting that help is a cause for celebration. Reaching out is a sign of strength. Even if you feel that you aren’t that strong, even if you feel like there’s no way you could ever take that step, trust me, you can.

You are worth it.

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Comments (21)

  1. Leonie

    I’m afraid that I’ve failed in my parents’ eyes if I go to counseling. After everything that has happened in my life – and finally everything is over & done – the feeling is still inside of me.. It still hurts sometimes.

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    1. Emily

      Leonie, I completely get it. I don’t think there’s any way to grow up without failing the expectations of our parents a little bit. But that doesn’t mean that they won’t still be proud of who you are, or that they won’t love you just as much. Of course there is the possibility that other people will see this as failure, but they aren’t the ones who have to live with it. They aren’t the ones living with it now. If they care about you, they will understand. Maybe not at first, but eventually they will. Keep holding on.

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      1. Leonie

        Thank you very much for your kind messages! It’s the first time I read this message?. It’s hard to understand that some people just don’t get it and never will. Our society (Netherlands) is so damn performance based, that it is not aloud to be sick or feeling tired. It really feels like failing if you just can’t anymore. Sometimes I felt mortally drained and I was still trying to go on – I couldn’t give up, couldn’t fail.
        At this moment, things are totally different!
        Instead of counseling, I chose for Mindfulness/meditation/HSP. I finally can admit that I have pain (even if it was visible, it was hard to talk about it). Right now I can even talk about headaches and being tired. I dare to make my own choices and I’m saying no! I have changed so much last year and I see the future so brightly in front of me, because I finally dare to choose want I need & what I want! It gives me so much freedom!

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  2. Emily Benson

    I SO needed to hear this today. Thank you.

    Reply  |  
  3. Leah

    This was a really refreshing read. I have my first therapy session tomorrow and it’s going to be a big step for me. I’m scared and nervous but excited to come out the otherside of this

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  4. Debbie Clapper

    I am proud of you! I believe in counseling and part take myself! Keep pressing on girl…to God be the Glory!

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  5. Shan

    This is beautiful. I’m beginning to go back to counseling after two years without needing it and while I feel like it’s a big step back, it’s not, really. Recovery is not a linear process.

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  6. Rachel

    I just started counseling today and will be starting extensive therapy. I really needed to read this and reassure myself. Thank you

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  7. Abbie

    Seeing a counselor and putting in real effort to calm your demons takes bravery and strength. I think we should be very proud that were not letting our illness swallow us.

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  8. Kay

    I was sitting here crying thinking about how out of hand my situation has become and how I don’t think I can handle it myself anymore if I still want to live the rest of my life. I needed to read this. I really did. It’s hard to accept help. It’s hard to admit you may need it. It’s nice to know I’m not alone!

    Reply  |  
    1. Crystal

      You’re not alone! I’ve been at the bottom where I felt no way out. Sitting on my bedroom floor, holding on to my dog and crying, ready for it all to end. Somehow, I managed to stay on the phone with my husband, psychiatrist, and her nurse long enough for my husband to get home and get me to the hospital. I pray you have support to help you right now. Reach out, it’s there. You’re just strong enough to do reach out for help when you need it and DESERVE it.

      Reply  |  
  9. Ronda

    Emily, how beautifully well written! I am a therapist. My clients are children and adolescents within an acute psychiatric ward. They experience the same challenges that you describe. These feelings create various behaviors in them. One of the main behaviors is self injury. I want to create a group therapy that speaks to the specifics of self injury. I also want to create a culture of wellness within this group. I want them to have a feeling and trinkets that show both belonging and solidarity. You obviously have a clearly defined understanding of the struggle. I would count it an honor to hear your thoughts as to what you would have found most helpful in your situation when you decided to pursue a life of health and well being. What items do you think would be good to establish our joint connection within the group without it being something that could bring self harm? I hope that you respond.

    Reply  |  
  10. Richard Taylor

    I love this and it’s all true. Our brain lies to us all the time and convinces us that we’re wasting other people’s precious time by expressing how distressed and upset we are. However, we aren’t alone and hope and help exists!

    Reply  |  
  11. Dustin

    vary well wrote

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  12. Nathalia Girardi Mendler

    Thank you for your words!

    Reply  |  
  13. Janelle Toombs

    I have depression also lots of anger and rage very hard to deal with struggling to stay alive

    Reply  |  
    1. Claire Biggs

      Hi Janelle,

      We’re so sorry that you’re struggling right now. Please reach out and let someone know how you’re feeling.

      You deserve to be met with love and compassion, and we believe there are people out there who will help you through this time.

      If you need a list of resources, please check out our FIND HELP page: https://twloha.com/find-help/local-resources/

      Reply  |  
  14. Leonie Janssen

    There are too many days to count for when I’ve opened this page and read the entire blog. It still stays amazing with so many truths inside.
    I surely can admit that the victory of going to counseling feels like failure in the beginning, but you’ll look at it totally differently after a few sessions. You’ll be doing great!

    Reply  |  
  15. Cara

    Wow! Thank u.

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  16. David

    My first experience with counseling wasn’t sought and instead a much needed intervention. I was a ticking time bomb and would later find out experienced what I think was told was a manic episode. I believe I was misdiagnosed but also can’t say I was well as I’ve experienced the darkness that anxiety and depression feels like. By the grace of God I believe I don’t have to take meds or seek professional help but I’ve also self medicated with drugs and alcohol and anything to fill a void I to this day am learning to fill with Christ. I believe I am an alcoholic and am a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and another Christ based recovery program that for me is a form of counseling and has been a huge blessing and resource in understanding myself. I have also thought about seeking professional help and have wrestled with thoughts of there being something wrong with me for thinking I need help. I feel like I know you more Emily and admire your vulnerability and transparency. God bless!

    Reply  |  
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