should i get counselling
October 31, 2012 4:13 PM   Subscribe

I am failing in most aspects of my life - should I get counselling?

When I was 9 years old, I was diagnosed as ADHD. My mother was absolutely horrified - she yelled about how I wasn't crazy and we stomped out of there and didn't talk about it since. I still don't know if I really have ADHD or not.

In general, I have done all right. I will go into periods where I overachieve and obsess. I have rewritten essays 20 to 50 times. However, I also go into periods where I underachieve and I lack motivation and ambition to do anything at all.

I have been in university for three years now and I am definitely underachieving. I rarely go to class or do my readings but I do hand in my assignments on time. I always aim to go to class. I set my alarm and I try to get there, but I always decide not to go right before I have to leave without really thinking of the consequences. Later, I wish that I had gone, but it's already too late. Sometimes I do well but my marks are mostly on the mid to lower range. I am also increasingly anxious when I have to do tests - sometimes to the point where I feel like I have to puke, probably because I have no idea what I am doing. I usually have really bad stomach aches before and after stressful events.

I know all the logical reasons I should work hard in school but I can't find it in me to work at it. I feel like I'm wandering through my days with no end goal in mind and I'm just hoping that I'll pass. I'm just so bored with school. Quitting isn't an option because my parents would flip out and disown me, but I also can't focus at all. I can't ever just sit and read or sit and write. I have to have a million other things to do. I'm always sitting, reading, on my phone, on my computer, reading another book, eating, cooking - whatever. I just can't do one thing at a time.

I also work and I always find that hard to balance with school even though I don't do a lot of hours and I'm hardly in class. It always seems like I have no time for anything but when I look back on what I have done, I really haven't done anything. I'm also not doing all to hot at work. It started with a bang because I was pretty crazed about it for a week, but now it's dying down and I've lost motivation for it as well. Losing interest is an ongoing problem in my life. I lose interest in everything I do after a month or so.

I'm also terrible with money. I make decent money and I have student loans, but I'm always buying stupid things I don't need. I buy on impulse. I do a lot of things on impulse and later I usually wish that I hadn't done it.

My school offers counselling and I don't know if I should go. Does it help? I come from a culture that really looks down on mental illnesses (hence, my mother's reaction) and one that really doesn't advocate going to others for help. I'm also the eldest in my family, and I've been raised to self-help. My mother has also really drilled it into me that I am generally lazy and inattentive so I also feel like I can't really be helped because these are my inherent traits.

Does counselling help? Is it worth my time or should I just… be less lazy? Any tips on how to organize my life a little better will be appreciated!
posted by cyml to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds like something is interfering with your life, which is exactly why people seek counseling. I can't see a downside to talking to someone about this.
posted by xingcat at 4:28 PM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh my goodness, YES. Go.

Here are three reasons why you should go:

1. If you had a painful foot, even if your mother or anyone else told you it was nothing, you would know it was real and you would, if you could, go to a doctor. Your mind is as precious and delicate as those little bones in your feet, so you must give it the same care and attention.

2. Seeking help does not make you weak or lesser. Seeking help will make you stronger. Back to this foot analogy - once you fix your foot, you can win races. without help, you'll just keep limping on. Don't settle for struggling - seek help so you can be better, stronger.

3. You deserve it. Deep down you know you do, or you wouldn't have written this post. The sad thing is, your negative voice, the voice of your black dog, is talking about "failing in most aspects of your life". You have ANOTHER VOICE which is telling you your mother was wrong back then, and a counsellor will help you nurture that voice.

Best of love and luck to you - and don't forget a counsellor is just like a dentist, if it hurts or you don't think they're helping you, just get another one.

Go :)
posted by greenish at 4:34 PM on October 31, 2012

ADHD isn't crazy. Your mom's interpretation of ADHD is crazy and unhelpful. I'd get help first and tell your mom second if I were you. You don't even need to tell your mom, actually. You can get through this.
posted by oceanjesse at 4:36 PM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

The worst case scenario is that you spent an hour of your life talking about your concerns, for free. Best case scenario, you change your life for the better, for free.

Got to counselling.
posted by Nightman at 4:58 PM on October 31, 2012 [4 favorites]

One thing I learned while waiting too long is that if it occurs to you, you should do it. Listen to your gut.
posted by rhizome at 5:05 PM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes absolutely, go. Even if you don't want to go on medication, counseling can absolutely help with adhd-like symptoms. The other thing is, it is likely to be much easier to do this while you're in school than it will be if you decide to see someone post-graduation, since you'd then have to deal with finding a therapist and figuring out what insurance covers and copays etc. So if you're unsure but you think you might want to see someone in the next couple of years, I would make doing it now a priority.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 6:28 PM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

I struggled with the same exact problems in the same exact situation. Telling yourself to "be less lazy," is the absolute worst way to deal with it. I tried it for three semesters, and all I achieved was getting pissed at myself for not doing what I knew I needed to do which ultimately spiraled into depression.

The sooner you can talk to someone who can help, the better. Take exactly what you have written there (print it off if you're like me and bad at explaining things on the spot), and bring it to a counselor, they'll recognize it immediately. Counselling will help. Coming to terms with what I had and not just blaming it on laziness was the biggest weight off my shoulders, and it gave me direction on how to improve myself and work around my flaws.

Also, parents are not immune to logic. If you lay out your situation to them, they will understand. They want you to succeed most of all. There are lots of bad misconceptions when it comes to ADD/ADHD. Do some research, talk to your counselor, and get the facts.
posted by BucketOBees at 6:35 PM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

I come from a culture that really looks down on mental illnesses

That's a bug, not a feature.

Go try counselling.
posted by flabdablet at 6:59 PM on October 31, 2012

This sounds so familiar, particular the parts about setting an alarm but not going, being unable to concentrate, losing interest, feeling like a failure. In my experience, feeling like a failure usually comes first and losing interest usually follows - if I couldn't do it properly, I didn't want to do it. Because the task was associated with failure, and I hated feeling like a failure, I would avoid the situation. This was an unconscious thing, not something I decided to do.

You feel like you don't do anything, but you probably do a lot of small stuff to feel better in the moment, right? E.g. the thought of going to class fills you with dread, and so in order to make yourself feel better you refresh metafilter. I think it's a mild form of depression. I am also diagnosed ADD, btw. It's rough because, apart from issues of attention and impulse, there's the fact that sometimes you are able to (hyper)focus. Sometimes, but not all the time. So you beat yourself up for not doing what you are "capable" of doing, even though the truth is that in that sometimes you are capable and sometimes you aren't. The ability to control focus is also associated with the ability to control mood.

Using a general "you" since your problems could have a different cause. Whatever is causing this, you should see someone! While you are still covered under student insurance! It'll be a lot easier now compared to later. A diagnosis can help even if you don't do anything with it. It can help you to feel less like a failure, which can help you to overcome negative feelings associated with work and schoolwork, which can help you to concentrate in those situations. Drugs can also help even if you decide not to take them as a regular thing, just that experience of being able to focus on the right thing, at the right time, even when you really don't want to, can be eye-opening.

Anyway, good luck ^^
posted by subdee at 7:13 PM on October 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yes please go. It has been immensely helpful to me.

You don't have to tell you family that you are going.
posted by ibakecake at 7:16 PM on October 31, 2012

The whole point of counseling is to help people deal with upsetting and difficult experiences. You are feeling like a failure and out of control of your life. This is exactly what counseling is for. Try it, you have nothing to lose.
posted by medusa at 8:00 PM on October 31, 2012

I can't say for sure, as I'm not a doc and anyway there are other conditions that can be similar, but it does sound as if you might have ADHD.

Go to counseling. It may or may not help, but you're not risking anything by trying.

Like you I have very good intentions but usually I look back at my day and feel I did not accomplish anything.

Working with a friend really helps, whether that's talking about a file with a colleague, or having a friend sit with me while I organize. Sometimes doing something physical while working helps. One time a coworker and I were talking about how to resolve something and we were throwing a ball back and forth as we talked. Sounds weird but it really seemed to confine my distraction and help me focus.

Meds help too.

Don't put off doing fun stuff while you are trying to sort through this. I have spent so much time mired in depression and being angry at myself for not accomplishing more. Getting out and making friends and doing things that I love can do a lot to counteract the depression and self-loathing.

There was a thread about ADHD stories recently which I can't link right now, but look for that. There's also a book called "More attention, less distraction" which is good.

The angry inner critic who says things like "why can't you keep things tidy like a normal person?" and "what on earth is wrong with you?!" is counterproductive and a giant waste of resources. Don't carry that around any longer. Ask me how I know.
posted by bunderful at 4:38 AM on November 1, 2012

There's no need to ever tell your family about getting counseling, and certainly there's no rush.

And if you don't like one counselor, you can try another.
posted by bunderful at 4:41 AM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I come from a culture that really looks down on mental illnesses (hence, my mother's reaction) and one that really doesn't advocate going to others for help.

I totally feel you and know where you're coming from, but this attitude is incorrect. Seriously, don't worry about what your family thinks. Don't tell them. Shed this idea that mental illness isn't a thing or doesn't happen to "good people" like you and your family. See someone about it. That's what they are there for.

My mother has also really drilled it into me that I am generally lazy and inattentive so I also feel like I can't really be helped because these are my inherent traits.

Either they are inherent traits, but ones that can be "treated" if they are getting in the way of the rest of your life, or they're not, and you can just overcome it by working harder. Either way, there's no reason for you to accept underachieving.
posted by deanc at 6:07 AM on November 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would hazard a guess you're the opposite of lazy and you have a highly active mind which you must train into good habits. Maybe your feeling low on motivation is more resistance to decisions you feel have been made for you by your family. A counsellor can offer different perspectives on these things.

Do get counselling. It may be the best investment you will ever make.
posted by inkypinky at 7:21 AM on November 1, 2012

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