A couple weeks ago, I went to see a counselor with the Student Counseling Service.
At the time, I was experiencing some distress. Some of that had to do with the physical pain I was feeling in my shoulders and wrists. But I also had some issues that I wanted to work through. I figured that since I was paying for the SCS through my Student Life Fee, I should make use of the service.
Now, some folks may be surprised that I was experiencing distress. They may say that I always seem positive and upbeat. And while that may be true, I certainly have my share of self-destructive thoughts. These thoughts tend to focus on my relationships with peers. For example, I used to believe that conversation with me was wasted time, since I have nothing of interest to offer; people would be better off doing anything else than talking to me. In fact, it was selfish for me to try to connect with others, as I was draining them of their precious time. The fact that this mindset meant that I would always feel lonely didn’t matter, since my feelings didn’t matter.
Fortunately, I don’t believe this about myself anymore, and I know that it’s just not true. But old habits die hard, and in the stress of law school, it’s easy to slip into a pit of painful thoughts.
And while I have friends and community both here in Chicago and elsewhere, it’s nice to have a neutral expert observer who will simply listen. That said, I know that I was hesitant to reach out to friends. I believed that my mental health was not worth other people’s time. But that’s wrong! In the future, when I feel distress, I want to be quicker to reach out to the people that I know care about me.
So how did the talk with the counselor go? He was very encouraging and thoughtful. He helped me think through certain issues to explore further. He also reminded me that law school is a stressful time, and that many law students use the counseling service.
Now, I feel much better. It helps that my physical pain is pretty much gone (I heartily recommend the physical therapists with Athletico).
So if you’re feeling distressed and would like additional support besides friends and family, think about seeing a counselor. We all go through bumps and difficulties, and it’s helpful to get some outside perspective.