A few months ago, I heard a noise coming from my car. A quiet, intermittent rattling – nothing of great significance – but I noticed it all the same. My dad is always telling me that when it comes to my car, “You want to fix the problem before it’s a problem,” so I don’t end up breaking down out of nowhere. So naturally, the next day I called up the professionals at the shop and booked my car in for a quick check-up and service. A day later, they’d resecured a cover on the bottom of my car, and I was back on the road with all concerns of rattling noises far behind me. Problem easily solved.
Around the same time as I first heard that rattling, I started to notice that something else was not quite right. But this was not about my car; it was about me. I noticed that my mood was changing – I was starting to feel down more often than usual, my mind was constantly busy, and I was finding it impossible to feel properly relaxed. On top of all those thoughts, I couldn’t shake the feeling from my head: what if there is something wrong? So naturally… I decided to ignore the problem and hoped I would feel better the next day. If only I’d thought to apply my dad’s words about my car to myself as well.
I did know, somewhere in my head, that the way I was feeling was not normal. There was a tiny part of me telling myself that I needed to talk about it, to discuss my feelings with someone who would understand and be able to give me some perspective – what I needed was a professional. I needed somebody with the experience and expertise to help me deal with this rough patch and get back to normal. But I was held back by the unshakable thought: What if there is something wrong with ME? It’s funny to think that the concern of something being wrong made me take my car in for a service immediately, but the same concern, when applied to me, only made me withdraw further into my own negative thoughts. Of course I didn’t wonder will the mechanics think less of my car now that it has a problem? But in direct parallel, I worried that acknowledging there was something wrong with how I was feeling would somehow change me as a person.
So I carried on; my car running smoothly, but my mind feeling more and more unsettled by the day. Still I convinced myself that I didn’t need to talk to a counsellor – everyone feels like this sometimes, just wait it out, I told myself. But gradually, the way I felt was running my mind into overdrive; I struggled to sleep, I felt unmotivated, disconnected and overwhelmed and I couldn’t explain it until one day I found myself in tears, on a normal day at uni, prompted by nothing in particular. I had reached the point my dad had warned me about: I had broken down.
It was only after this that I finally decided to talk to a counsellor. I booked an appointment the next day and spent an hour talking to her about how I was feeling and what I could do to get back to my normal self. And I felt fantastic. I felt calm and refreshed, like a weight had been lifted off me. Imagine how good I might have felt for the last few months had I taken myself in for a “quick check-up and service” when I first noticed something was wrong!
It has been a lesson for me: that there is nothing wrong with admitting that something is not right. While it may not always be as straightforward as a short chat with a counsellor to get you feeling like yourself again, it is always best to try and fix a problem while it is still small and manageable. We often forget that our minds work hard non-stop, just like machines, so it only makes sense that they should be taken care of as such. In the same way that I take my car in for regular servicing, it’s important to check up on ourselves time to time, whether it be with a counsellor, a GP, a psychologist, or even just a close friend, to make sure everything is running smoothly. And if it’s not? The earlier you realise that something is not right, the easier it is to tweak things and make small changes that can get you back to feeling your best as quickly as possible.