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You can only go so far in your mind - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
j4
j4
You can only go so far in your mind
Appointment with counsellor last night wasn't as bad as I'd expected in one sense, but was worse in another.

The woman I saw was easy to talk to, laughed at my jokes, commented on the BiCon t-shirt I was wearing as a lead-in to some questions about why I was depressed at school, was totally unfazed by poly stuff, seemed to be asking helpful questions. "This might actually be useful," I thought to myself. Then at the end of the session she told me that I needed more counselling (more sessions, more experienced person) than she or the practice in general could give. And that the only way I could get that would be to go private. :-(

So I've got a list of phone numbers for counselling services, good wishes and good luck from Imogen ... and no idea how I'm going to afford >=£35/week for something that I can't convince myself I really need. I think it might be helpful, but, well, a) it's never been that helpful in the past, and b) I haven't been having counselling for the past 3 years, and I haven't died, so it can't exactly be essential.

Of course, if I didn't spend money on stupid stuff like going to the pub and buying CDs and books (okay, and shoes, and swords) then I'd probably be able to afford it. ... Although then I'd feel like I ought to be paying that money into the mortgage/bills/house repairs etc. rather than paying somebody to teach me how to do stuff that by now I should be able to do anyway. <sigh>
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jiggery_pokery From: jiggery_pokery Date: February 12th, 2003 08:55 am (UTC) (Link)
*quickly reads your LJ to date to check some things*

This might be a really bad suggestion for a lot of different reasons and I don't know your situation in detail but this is a situation where my first thought would be my parents.

I am 99% convinced that 99% of parents only want the best for their children and if this is a way where your parents could do something to directly invest in your happiness, your state of mind, your satisfaction with life then I am 99% convinced that they think it would be money well spent.

This is horribly difficult just to think about (there are all sorts of "defeat"/"shame" issues involved, some of which I'm going through myself at the moment...) but please think about it seriously.
jiggery_pokery From: jiggery_pokery Date: February 12th, 2003 09:45 am (UTC) (Link)
I have been thinking about this some more and can only see the downsides here - specifically, how you explain that you would like money for free to talk to someone when you can't say the same things to them for love nor money. But, you know, still somehow I think they would be likely to help out.
j4 From: j4 Date: February 12th, 2003 09:49 am (UTC) (Link)
I could ask my parents, and they probably would agree to pay ... but:


  • I'd feel like I was even more of a failure as an adult if I couldn't even manage to pay for myself, and still had to run to my parents every time things got tricky

  • I'm earning more than my mum (though my dad's earning more than sion_a, so I guess it balances out) so I always feel guilty taking her money, because if I don't have enough left over it suggests that I just have crap money management (which is true)

  • It would feel like I was going to them and saying "You failed to bring me up as a normal adult, please pay to put this right". It feels kind of like I'm asking for a refund.



I am 99% convinced that 99% of parents only want the best for their children

That's optimistic...

and if this is a way where your parents could do something to directly invest in your happiness, your state of mind, your satisfaction with life then I am 99% convinced that they think it would be money well spent.

But my parents have already spent 22 years investing in my happiness, my state of mind, my satisfaction with life! They paid for my education, they paid my bills at university, they paid most of my rent when I lived out, they even carried on paying two lots of rent when I moved back into college after getting chucked out of the houseshare I was in and the remaining housemates couldn't find anybody to replace me so we effectively had to keep paying rent on their washing-room. They drove me to and from Oxford every term so I could take lots of books and silly clothes with me. They came and picked me up and looked after me when I needed it. They sent me funny stuff in the post to make me smile. I don't mean to make it sound like they were coddling me all the way through Oxford, but they were there for me, they didn't judge, they didn't say "I told you so" when I screwed up, they just looked out for me and helped when they could.

Basically I feel like they've already given me so much that now I'm supposedly "grown up" I should be trying to stand on my own two feet a bit more convincingly. :-/
jiggery_pokery From: jiggery_pokery Date: February 12th, 2003 03:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good points all. Thank you for thinking about the premise and I hope that it didn't cause distress. :-)

Please keep talking if you think it'll help.
From: ex_lark_asc Date: February 12th, 2003 09:06 am (UTC) (Link)
Jan.. well, first off, *HUGS*.

Secondly, professional conselling is just as big an investment in your future as a mortgage or house repairs. If you become a happier, less fragile, more confident person, it'll have all sorts of positive effects on your life - it could make it possible for you make a far larger contribution to joint stuff in the long term than you're doing now, and that to me is worth a hell of a lot for the sake of a year or so of being a bit tight for cash. I'm sure Sion will understand that too. I'm starting to see a few results from seeing Marina already, and god, it makes life nicer.

As for it being 'paying someone to teach you something you should already know' - that's low self-esteem talking. You deserve to be shinier, healthier and happier than you are; don't sabotage a chance to change your life for the better, and don't give up hope because there's one more hurdle in the way. It sounds like this woman knew what she was talking about and understood your needs well enough to give you some sound advice - so take her up on it.

As for the money.. well. From the week after next I'm going to be trying to find enough to pay for 35 a session *twice a week*. I think that's going to put a serious crimp in my beer-and-clothes money, but looking at the contrast between the way I've been feeling while Marina's been off on holiday and the way I feel when she's around to talk to, it'll be worth every penny.
j4 From: j4 Date: February 12th, 2003 10:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Secondly, professional conselling is just as big an investment in your future as a mortgage or house repairs.

True, I guess, but it just feels so selfish to be spending money on myself for something that's just for me, something that sion_a manages just fine without, when he's spent >200K on a house for us to live in and I'm barely paying a reasonable amount of rent to live there.

If you become a happier, less fragile, more confident person, it'll have all sorts of positive effects on your life - it could make it possible for you make a far larger contribution to joint stuff in the long term than you're doing now,

At the risk of stating the obvious: me being a happier, more confident person is still not going to turn me into a software engineer capable of earning 40K a year...

and that to me is worth a hell of a lot for the sake of a year or so of being a bit tight for cash. I'm sure Sion will understand that too.

But I'm already a bit tight for cash. I can't ask him to pay for any greater a share of things than he already does. :-(

As for the money.. well. From the week after next I'm going to be trying to find enough to pay for 35 a session *twice a week*.

But you're earning twice as much as I am! And you're not already paying HALF YOUR SALARY into mortgage/bills/council tax! And you probably don't have nearly an entire month's salary in credit card debt! :-(

Basically I see what you're trying to say, and I agree in principle, but the best of principles simply don't translate into actual money in my actual bank account...
From: ex_lark_asc Date: February 13th, 2003 04:05 am (UTC) (Link)
True, I guess, but it just feels so selfish to be spending money on myself for something that's just for me, something that sion_a manages just fine without, when he's spent >200K on a house for us to live in and I'm barely paying a reasonable amount of rent to live there.

*more hugs* Different people contribute different things to any situation. I've often heard you talk about ways in which you wish you could support Sion emotionally that you don't feel you're capable of at the moment; I really do think counselling would help you become better at doing that kind of thing in general.

At the risk of stating the obvious: me being a happier, more confident person is still not going to turn me into a software engineer capable of earning 40K a year...

No, it won't. But it might, for example, give you enough bounce to spot things in your current job which you could fairly quickly learn to do, expand your abilities, make your work more interesting and thereby make it fairly obvious to the management that you need a promotion. Or perhaps it would give you the confidence to quit your job, apply for an EPSRC grant and take a course in programming, which because of your new-found confidence would be fun and exciting rather than a trauma. Do you see what I mean?

But you're earning twice as much as I am! And you're not already paying HALF YOUR SALARY into mortgage/bills/council tax! And you probably don't have nearly an entire month's salary in credit card debt! :-(

I'm not certain I'm quite that much richer than you..! I'm not going to quote amounts, but I'm earning about 1.2 times as much as you, IIRC; I have an overdraft which is two or three hundred over what I earn in a month and which I'm trying to pay off at 100 a month; I run a car, which saw off 300 quid in insurance a couple of weeks ago, then there's rent, food, credit accounts (three of them), bills and so on - and anyway, without going into all the gory details, when I run up a budget spreadsheet, all my outgoings combined with buying food and paying my therapist for two sessions a week work out to almost exactly what I can afford, leaving no money spare for booze, clothes, outings and so on.

You have a slight advantage over me in that you're sharing food and similar expenses, whereas I live on my own and am solely responsible for those; I only share utility bills. I really don't think it's by any means financially impossible for someone earning your sort of money to afford-counselling-at-all; I mean, I'm in a different situation really, I'm going to have to sharply readjust my own expectations of the Gratuitous Lifestyle I can afford in order to pay for mine, but then I'll not only be having a large amount of it, but I also have high expectations of what I can afford to start with. Some counsellors operate variable rates depending on what clients can afford, also; it might be worth asking about that. And I've also come across at least one psychoanalyst who only charges 28 or so a session rather than 35.

Would it help if I forwarded you a copy of my monthly working-out-budget spreadsheet? I find having the definite hard facts makes it less stressful to think about these things.
j4 From: j4 Date: February 14th, 2003 04:36 am (UTC) (Link)
Different people contribute different things to any situation. I've often heard you talk about ways in which you wish you could support Sion emotionally that you don't feel you're capable of at the moment; I really do think counselling would help you become better at doing that kind of thing in general.

Possibly. On the other hand, I don't feel like my emotional contributions really count for much anyway...

I'm not certain I'm quite that much richer than you..! I'm not going to quote amounts, but I'm earning about 1.2 times as much as you, IIRC

I remembered it being more than that... Oh well. I don't mind quoting amounts, and I'm on £16,750 a year. Which is certainly quite enough to live on, and not be hopelessly poverty-stricken, but it's not enough to be well-off on. When you count in the fact that I'm permanently overdrawn (£1500 overdraft limit of which first £500 is interest-free, but I'm usually well over £500 overdrawn) and never have enough money to actually pay all the overdraft off, and I have about £800 in credit-card debt, I just feel like I'm never actually going to earn enough money to pay off the debts, only stop them from getting to the point where the bailiffs are beating at my door.

I think part of the problem is that I feel like since I'm never going to get rid of the debts I might as well enjoy the short-term spending, since denying myself that doesn't seem to make any significant difference to my finances. (It's sort of like dieting -- if you cut out all the cream cakes and everything and still put on weight, you start to think that it's not worth giving up the cream cakes, since they make you happy and giving them up doesn't seem to do any good.)

You have a slight advantage over me in that you're sharing food and similar expenses, whereas I live on my own and am solely responsible for those; I only share utility bills.

So you never eat with mobbsy or ewx? Neither of them ever cook for you? ... You're presumably sharing some food expenses even if you're not explicitly "shopping for two". Plus, our utility bills are almost certain to be a lot bigger than yours, because our house is enormous. (Our last gas bill nearly made sion_a cry.)

I really don't think it's by any means financially impossible for someone earning your sort of money to afford-counselling-at-all

No, it's not financially impossible. It's just a significant added strain in an area that I already have a lot of hangups and stress about, to pay for something which I have no guarantee will benefit me at all. I've already had a lot of experience of unhelpful counselling, and while I'm prepared to give it another go, I'm not sure I'm prepared to invest that much money in something which may just end up being useless.

Can nobody understand why this might look like a really bad deal from my point of view?

Would it help if I forwarded you a copy of my monthly working-out-budget spreadsheet? I find having the definite hard facts makes it less stressful to think about these things.

Um, thank you for the offer, but I doubt if it would help. Having the definite hard facts (in the form of bank statements and credit card bills and utility bills) tends just to make me feel physically sick. :-(
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j4 From: j4 Date: February 13th, 2003 02:35 am (UTC) (Link)
I think you know my attitude to the cost associated with this. That, I hope, is not the issue here.

Er, I'm not sure I know what you mean. The cost is a real issue for me.

Putting that aside for a moment, do you need this?

I don't know. That's part of the problem -- is it worth scraping together money I can ill afford for something which I don't even know will be helpful?

I think you need to do something --- and talking things through, calmly and in private, with someone remote from your life can be a good way to feel better. It isn't the only way, true, but the alternative is making time to do this with people closer to home, be that friends, family, or partners.

But I already do talk about things with partners, friends, and family; and have been doing so for years. It's a completely different thing. Counselling isn't (or shouldn't be) just having a chat with somebody who doesn't happen to be involved with your life -- a good counsellor will have an idea what questions to ask to direct the conversation, to guide the thinking-through of the problems. I'm not saying friends can't do this, but they're much less likely to be doing it systematically. They're also much less likely to be able to push one as far in one's thinking-through, as they'll be a lot more worried about causing offence, ruining the friendship, overstepping the mark, etc.

You know that I feel that counselling helped me. That said, that was one counsellor, and at a time in my life where I had no other form of emotional support available to me.

Have you considered going back to counselling? Other forms of emotional support are a good thing to have, but as I say, counselling isn't just about having a shoulder to lean on when you have problems, it's about trying to help you to solve the problems. And that's something that I, with the best will in the world, can't really do for you. :-/
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j4 From: j4 Date: February 13th, 2003 08:18 am (UTC) (Link)
My opinion is, if it something that might help, then the money should be found. Given my understanding of your relationship with your parents, I would suggest your first port of call should be to ask them. If it came to it, I'd pay for it.

It's easy for you to say that, but I don't think you really understand the extent to which it would upset me to have to ask them for money for this. The fact that they'd probably agree to pay is neither here nor there -- the whole thing would feel like an admission of failure on so many different fronts if I had to go and ask them for the money. Also, this may sound strange, but I suspect I'd feel a lot more pressured to "get results" from it if somebody else was paying for it -- I'd feel like I somehow had to justify their expenditure by Getting Better. I can't do that on demand like that.

As for asking you to pay for it, I just couldn't. I couldn't accept it if you offered, and it'd hurt me if you did offer, because I'd have to say no, but I'd feel like I was rejecting your offer and "not wanting to get better" and all kinds of other things.

Please, can we leave this aspect of the discussion?

When I re-read my earlier comment last night, I realised that it could be interpreted as me being anti-counselling.

I didn't read it like that; but you seemed to be saying that sitting down and having a talk with somebody you know was a viable substitute for counselling. I was just saying that I think they're completely different things, and as such will be helpful for different people and/or at different times.

I feel like I've continued to improve over the last several months under my own steam [anyone is most welcome to disagree at this point, and I'll listen, and reconsider if appropriate]

There are ... certain aspects of how you're "coping" that make me very worried about you. You've said you don't want to discuss them in unlocked entries so I won't go into details here, and I don't think that stuff necessarily means that you're not "improving" -- sometimes things look worse while they're getting better, if you see what I mean -- but I do think it's something that needs dealing with.

It's more like you are a catalyst --- I don't need or expect you to be an oracle.

Indeed, and a counsellor is only a catalyst too -- but hopefully they're a better, more experienced one. And one that isn't going to suddenly have unpredictable reactions as a result of impurities in whatever substance it is you're using as a catalyst. (Um, analogy overload.) The solutions will always come from within, though other people can help you to find them, or at least help you learn to look for them. But some people are better at that help than others.
From: kaet Date: February 12th, 2003 11:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Call me a hopeless convert if you like. Go on....

I know what you mean about asking your parents, particulrarly about not wanting you to think them a failure, that's why I've not told mine, and I don't think I could ask them for the money. (Though people and parents are different).

I've been very lucky that the work counselling service can do a ling session with me (lucky not just in terms of where I work, but lucky in terms of just timing luck too), but before I knew I could do that I was thinking about seeing someone, and how much I'd pay on it. The money and stuff is different for the two of us, but not that different I don't think compared to lots of people, (I'm on 18k, fwiw), and I thought thirty or forty would be okay as long as it was for just a few months. I don't know how long these things tend to last, but perhpas that's something they could tell you about in advance of starting properly. I don't know what your expectations are, or experience with counsellors already (I'd none) but I was very ambivalent at the start (can you be very ambivalent? none-more-equally ambivalent?).

I'm finding it awkward to talk about it in lj, not emotionally but because we're all exchanging long stuff by typing into tiny postboxes. If you want to ask me about things then email me (or speak to me when you see me irl!). I'd be happy to talk about things.
j4 From: j4 Date: February 13th, 2003 02:59 am (UTC) (Link)
The money and stuff is different for the two of us, but not that different I don't think compared to lots of people, (I'm on 18k, fwiw),

I'm on 16.75K, and almost half of that goes directly into the joint account as my contribution to mortgage, council tax, bills, etc.

I don't know what your expectations are, or experience with counsellors already (I'd none)

Saw a child psychiatrist when I was about 15. Saw various counsellors, psychiatrists, psychologists, etc. while at university. (Oh, and a brief chat with the "mental health nurse" during a brief stay in the hospital. That was entertaining.) Had counselling, CBT, and CAT. More and more I just started to feel like I was a character in a Beckett play, trapped in a giant urn, forced to tell and retell my life story in some kind of eternal narrative limbo. Or perhaps the Cumaean Sibyl, who was cursed with eternal life:

Nam Sibyllam quidem Cumis ego ipse oculis meis vidi in ampulla pendere, et cum ill pueri dicerent: Σιβυλλα τι θελες; respondebat illa: αποθανειν θελω.
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