An Honest (But Messy) Perspective on Accessibility, Doubt and Mental Health

I started writing this piece and ended up delving into something completely different because this is quite a vast topic for me in terms of relatability and very strong emotions. I’ve decided I will publish this the way it is for my future self to be able to reflect, but I will be delving deeper into the fields below further over time. I have a lot to say after a hiatus like this.

Essentially, I recently had a crisis over what I was doing with my life, specifically regarding my bachelors of psychology course. I’m about 2/3 of the way through at this point and somehow the thought of that plus my unhappiness with the way the course was arranged was a very stressful one to entertain.

For the longest time, I thought this field was where I could truly give something back to the community, while learning how to better myself and most importantly, better help those around me. Honestly, in retrospect, I don’t think I accurately estimated the amount of number-work a course at a research university would contain. (I know, shocker!) This meant (in addition to some uni admin things I can justifiably complain about) I was being held back and demotivated due to courses I knew I couldn’t “finesse”. My skills lie in the territory of words, empathy, social engagement, occasionally a lot of denial (ha.) but more specifically, I knew I could pursue a career in counselling e e e e e a s i l y. But this course wasn’t teaching me how to be a counsellor, it was being safe and covering all bases, including those of individuals who would like to one day get a PhD in statistical analysis, or something of that nature. This meant I very easily started resenting my courses and having no energy left within me to take in and attempt to apply and generalize the knowledge I was instructed to memorize for multiple choice exams.

Somehow this felt a little disconnected to me, and maybe it’s all on me and I should’ve gone for a BA. Fair enough. Numbers aren’t for me, I should’ve known that. But what wouldn’t stop bothering me wasn’t my performance within this course and the requirements it was setting. It was the fact that I had lost all desire to engage in content of that nature because it felt like it was contributing to no real result. And here you might also interject, maybe I’m just not patient enough. But that’s not what it’s about really. My first-world problems and skepticism regarding my course and future led me to contemplating something rather global.

As a field, the findings we are digging into and analyzing on SPSS are actually quite fundamental to almost everybody’s daily lives. But I’ve noticed that only the exciting and polarizing findings are the ones being publicized. Sure, we’ve seen a surge in meditation and self-help but I still feel like it’s not enough. I think abolishing the stigma and backing things up with facts and research is fundamental to that. But to the average Joe, I can almost guarantee you, perusing some scientific papers is not exactly a regular activity.

Another phenomenon I spot within this domain is the way some people can mock self-help practices or therapy. I recall having conversations with people about meditation, for instance, or seeking help and getting responses that are skeptical, hesitant and partially condescending. But like, isn’t the name self-help enough to clarify that it’s a personal decision or strategy? I think it’s great that some people are delving into mindfulness and self-help on their own because they are doing what most of us are wrongly not prioritizing. I understand and accept that sometimes that does not help or in some cases is just not enough, but I think if anybody is contemplating starting there or just experimenting, then do it. Don’t let the stigma hinder you.

This semester I’m taking a mandatory course named Interpersonal Professional Skills that focuses on us getting in touch with our selves in an honest and exploratory fashion in order to polish or abilities while learning to accept and improve on our weaknesses in order to better carry sessions with a client. This was the first time since September 2017 that I felt I was being taught something that was not a name or a number, but a lifestyle almost. A way of being that allows you to be better at your job while not compromising your mental wellbeing. And don’t judge me, but damn is that satisfying.

As a result, I’ve been getting back into the field, exploring what I would like to pursue after this degree is a checked item on my life to-do list. I’m currently learning how to hone my strengths and scrutinize my shortcomings in order to fully understand them and almost desensitize myself to them. Because I’ve discovered that the fact that I don’t spend too much mental time on my insecurities and weaknesses out of fear of a panic attack has actually made me a weaker individual. I’ve taken my invulnerable facade too far and developed a heightened sensitivity to moments of failure or doubt. So I’m reconsidering a few things, putting some things back in place and most importantly am starting to know more clearly what I can and cannot offer this world (and myself, and those around me) at this point in my life.

I guess I felt like this is important to disclose because I felt myself disengaging from a field that often offered me an explanation, a sense of comfort or even just some new understanding. Exclusively because I felt some of it was inaccessible to me or didn’t cater to my abilities. I’ve since put my head back in place, after going back home for a week and restarting myself, and have rediscovered a love for this field, or more accurately, a clearer vision of what I intend on doing post-bachelors that I will a. be good at and b. help somebody with, in the real world.

This was incredibly incoherent, but I’m not letting the fact that I suddenly put this stuff on a Facebook Page for all to see affect the way I therapeutically “blog”. If it’s a mess, ask me questions, let’s talk, criticize me, tell me what I can do better. I’m on a path of self-development anyways, so what better opportunity?

P.S. I don’t mean to blame the course or the curriculum as I’m taking full responsibility for my opinion of the way they assess my competence. It may well work for others. However I honestly Thank you for staying all the way,

Hiba

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