イギリスでカウンセリングを受けていた話/When I went to counseling in the UK

counseling 日常/Daily Life


This is a blog entry I wrote back at the end of November last year, but I will share it as is.


I am going to counseling sessions provided by the district I live in from September. Today, I want to share why I am going to counseling sessions, and what kind of counseling I am getting. The purpose of the blog entry is to share from my experience that it is always OK to seek doctors’ and specialists’ advice about mental health, using my own words.


Most of you who are reading this right now probably know… I moved to the UK from Japan to marry my same-sex partner. When I first moved here, I was so happy that I was reunited with my partner and that I can have him in my life. Since I was busy adjusting to the new environment, every day was exciting.


But soon, I started remembering about my job and my family and friends that I had to leave behind in Japan, making me feel sad. The more I recall the memories in Japan, the fact of me not having a job and not being able to see my family and friends made it harder for me to breathe.


Another factor causing my anxiety was the visa. I entered the UK with a fiance visa; it requires me to marry my partner in the UK within 6 months after entry, which then will give me the right to switch to a spouse visa. Until I have a spouse visa, I can’t get access to the National Health Service nor the right to work.


I have lived outside of Japan for a few years, so speaking English as a second language was not a big deal. But putting myself in an environment where you have to speak a language that is not your first language 24/7, in addition to “moving” to a country instead of studying abroad, made it more stressful because I felt that there is no end to this situation.


Of course, I have expected this to happen before coming to the UK. And it’s not like all of life in the UK is bad, I do have fun. But I could feel the anxiety growing inside me, and I didn’t know how to handle it.


I have talked to my partner and he would ask “Is there anything I can do?” “Are you OK?” and he has constantly supported me. But I felt bad that he always had to listen. It also started to get more difficult to tell everything I am thinking freely and for it to be heard without any burden for a partner who shares such a big part of my life. This pushed me to search on Google counseling services in my district, seeking a specialist who would listen to me.


In early September, there was an assessment, a session to evaluate my situation, where I spoke about my upbringing to my current situation in about 90 minutes. The session was conducted on zoom, where we could both see our faces and was held in English. They said it was originally held offline, but shifted to online due to the pandemic. They have chosen a counselor who would fit with my situation, and from mid-October, I do 50-minutes counseling sessions on the same day of the week.


This is just my opinion, but being able to have counseling sessions on the same day of the week helped me realize the ups and downs of my emotions because I can compare myself from this week to the previous week. Also, I can organize my thoughts on what has made positive or negative changes in my mood when the counselor asks questions that deepen my understanding of my own emotions.

先週のセッションでは、冒頭で”How are you?”と聞かれてとっさに”I’m good”と答えました。その後カウンセラーに「どんな1週間だったの?」とさらに聞かれて「やっぱり全然元気じゃない」と気づくことができ、そこから1週間の出来事と自分の気持ちについて話すことができました。普段の生活では知らず知らずの内に、自分の気持ちに蓋をしていることに気づきハッとしました。

In last week’s session, it started with “How are you?” and I immediately answered, “I’m good”. The counselor then asked “How was your week?”, which made me realize that “I wasn’t good at all”. From there I spoke about what had happened to me that week and about my feelings and realized that I had put my feelings in a box unconsciously. 


The situation has changed since I first started the counseling session. My visa has shifted to a spouse visa, so now I can access the National Health Service and am permitted to work. And fortunately, I started making friends, and there is progress when looking for jobs. I think these positive changes in my life are letting me write about my mental health. I’m not sure whether I should continue counseling or not, and if I were to continue, for how long. I think I will decide with my counselor.


I know I’ve been saying this over and over, but the reason why I am writing this article is to share with you from my experience that it is OK to go to doctors and specialists about the state of your mental health, not just to your family and friends. 


Lately, you hear a lot of “self-love” and “self-care”. Maybe that is why in interviews, I get asked about how I do self-love and self-care. I answer about how to make myself happy, seeking help from people around me, and going to doctors and specialists.


I love it when the word self-love and self-care is used to make us love ourselves and to take care of ourselves. But I think it will be hard for everyone when these words start having wings and are interpreted as if it is a magical word to solve problems by yourself or promote individual responsibility. 


There are so many things in my life that I couldn’t do anything about. There are still and I think there will continue to be. So from my experience, I want to tell you. You can ask for professional advice about your mental health. That action itself is self-love and self-care.


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