I've tried in-person counseling before, but my issue was with change in health care. Even if I stay with the same company, health care plans change. Companies change, what's covered changes, premiums change. I've developed relationships with great therapists only to have my coverage change. At one point, I had to choose between a plan that covered my doctor or one that covered my therapist. I chose my doctor and had to stop seeing my therapist. Finding a new therapist was tough. It's hard to get hold of private practices to make an appointment. If I did get hold of someone, they weren't accepting new patients. Even if I did find someone, I would have had to adjust my work schedule to see someone once a week.
By comparison, I like BetterHelp more. I like that I can review all my responses, as well as my therapist's. Looking back, it's hard to get into anything serious in a session's limited time, but when I am able to look back at both of our responses, I am able to process our discussion throughout the week which helps with the next appointment. Plus, finding a therapist in my city is hard. It's hard to get in with a therapist's private practice, even with a referral.
I was looking for a counselor when BetterHelp's email marketing targeted my inbox. It didn't sound real. How can you do counseling online? I looked up BetterHelp's reviews and decided to sign up. It matched me with a counselor, and I liked that it showed me my counselor's profile before I paid for the service. That was the biggest selling point.
I had a hard time finding a traditional counselor even though I had insurance. I liked that I had access to BetterHelp without having to use insurance. As long as I could pay, I could talk to a licensed therapist. With BetterHelp, I could message as much as I want, and as time went on, I took advantage of that; now part of my daily routine is to message my counselor. If I did that with an in-person counselor, it would cost a fortune. The flexibility was also key for me. I was worried about having to change my work schedule to see someone in person. What would I tell work to consistently get time off? It's hard to know how people will react. What if I couldn't get time off consistently? I can talk to a counselor without interrupting my work schedule. I can message my counselor at any time. If I work late, I can message my counselor at night. Plus, it's discreet, I don't have to tell anyone I'm seeing a therapist. All people know is I'm doing better.
I have a diagnosis of manic bipolar 1 disorder, and my doctor thought I might have anxiety as well, so he said I needed to find a counselor. I did have anxiety. I had trouble sitting at home on my days off and I thought I was stir crazy. Maybe I was, but that was my undiagnosed anxiety. My first goal was to be able to relax at home on my days off. As I opened up more, I saw how bad my anxiety was. It went beyond relaxing at home. It affected how I interacted with people, and I began to see how my thinking caused my anxiety. With my counselor, I worked on getting my anxiety to manageable levels.
After a few weeks of working with my counselor, I didn't need to get out of the house on my days off as much, I was able to relax at home. I also carried my anxiety in my face and people said I always looked mad. Now, I smile more, and it's important because I work in customer service.
I also took the saying "hope for the best, but prepare for the worst," literally. I convinced myself the worst case scenario would happen, even though it never did. My counselor gave me tools to help change the way I thought. She helped me see how my thinking caused my anxiety. Over time, I started to win the arguments in my head. Today I experience far less anxiety than before.
Finally, my doctor said my bipolar is in remission after almost a decade of chaos. Talking to my counselor helps, and I made messaging with her part of my daily routine. When I started using BetterHelp, I couldn't tell if my job was a good fit or if it was me. If I changed jobs, would I still experience the same thing? What would I do if I did? I needed to know before I did something drastic.
My diagnosis makes it hard to deal with things that everyone experiences, such as stress, fear, and uncertainty. I learned managing my diagnosis is a full-time job in addition to my traditional full-time job. Messaging my counselor after work helps me effectively cope with the daily experiences I have. I've learned I need to talk to a therapist on a regular basis because I can't always tell if something is in my head. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. Through hard work, I've learned to use humor as a tool to cope, and I don't react as negatively as I did before.
As for work, I stayed. People know me as the calm, rational one. They ask me for advice on how to deal with issues. I recently found out the company I work for wants me to have a career there. I realized I'm the only one holding me back. The more I work on myself, the more successful I can be.
My counselor taught me some tools that helped with my anxiety. At the moment I experience anxiety, I use a breathing technique she taught me which helps to calm me down. I also use Socratic questions as much as I can to help me to see when I'm not thinking rationally. Over time, I've internalized the questions and I have been able to experience less anxiety.
I also learned about cognitive distortions I experience. For instance, I always need to be right. It got to the point where I stressed myself out. What if I wasn't right? What would I do? How would I respond? Sometimes learning about what you experience is enough to overcome it. When I find myself experiencing that distortion, I tell myself, it's OK to be wrong. That helps tremendously.
The most recent thing I'm working on my is my self-confidence. My counselor diagnosed me with low self-confidence. I didn't know that was a diagnosis, but it makes sense and I'm glad she diagnosed me. I couldn't figure out why I was always hard on myself. I convinced myself I needed to be perfect, and when I wasn't, I felt terrible. Everyone at work said I did a great job. My family and friends enjoy my company. People enjoy reading my writing. Still, I kept telling myself it wasn't good enough. In reality, I'm doing really well, even for someone without a diagnosis.
I suffered from low self-esteem and I didn't know it until I started using BetterHelp. One thing it affected was my writing. I journaled a lot. That journaling turned into wanting to write fiction. A lot of people are insecure about their writing. My low self-esteem made it worse. My inner critic won a lot of arguments at first. As I worked with my counselor, I learned to deal with my inner critic. I worked out what I was experiencing by messaging my counselor.
I started to write more. Then I started to look into self-publishing. I didn't know if I could do it at first, that was my inner critic talking. As I wrote some short stories, I researched self-publishing like crazy. Finally, I finished my first collection. The last thing I needed to do was submit my collection to retailers. It was my inner critic's last stand. Was my work good enough to sell on Amazon? What if I put all this hard work in my book and Amazon didn't accept it? What would I do? I messaged my counselor. I worked through all the scenarios in my head. The only thing left to do was click submit.
Within half an hour, Amazon accepted my book, and on the first try! I felt proud to see my book for sale. Since then I've self-published 2 more books. Writing them can be an emotional roller coaster because I'm constantly at odds with my inner critic. That's where talking to a counselor helps. Sometimes it wins and I can't write but seeing my books for sale makes it all worth it. I look back and feel proud of myself for what I overcame.
Now I'm taking writing classes. I enjoy getting lost in the stories I write. I'm still fighting my inner critic and it may win some battles, but I'm winning the war. I'm getting more ambitious with my goals. I'm striving for things I would have never thought possible. I'm getting my confidence back. Every day is better than the one before it.