“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” – Oscar Wilde
Three years ago freelance writer Greg Bruce considered himself one of those people, existing yet not really living.
Growing up Greg had always felt shy. In social situations, he’d retreat into himself while secretly admiring those who were able to hold a captive audience through their conversational prowess.
Over the years Greg tried all manner of self-help books and even tried counselling without success. On reflection he believes, ‘you’ve got to be able to make the leap to counselling, and at that time maybe I just wasn’t ready enough.’
Greg was innately aware his perceived shortcomings were holding him back in many aspects of his life and he was starting to feel depressed. His feelings of depression further affected his ability to interact with others. It was a vicious cycle.
Three years ago was a defining point in Greg’s life because he had met a wonderful woman and they were engaged to be married. However, by now his sense of social awkwardness was beginning to affect their relationship.
Greg recalls being sceptical about going back to counselling. It hadn’t helped him in the past, and at the back of his mind was this ingrained belief, ‘I should be able to work this out myself’.
With marriage on the horizon Greg reached the point where he realised there was a lot at stake if he didn’t take action. So with the gentle encouragement of his fiancée, Greg decided to give counselling another go.
Greg reached out to Home and Family Counselling. The donation-based aspect of the service was a definite attraction, something for which he remains very grateful.
Sharing the burden
The counsellor Greg saw was a perfect fit for him. He describes feeling safe and comfortable with her right from the start. ‘She had the tools to help me but, first and foremost, she was gentle. That was the great thing about her, I felt like I’d found a kindred spirit and she was able to unlock an understanding of the world for me.’
Greg describes leaving his counselling sessions, ‘in a mix of emotions, but always aware that some burden had been left behind by being shared’.
After just a couple of months the counselling came to an end. Looking back, Greg describes the end of counselling as feeling like a new born calf, ‘not entirely sure I could stand on my own two feet, but equipped with strategies and tools to give it a try.’
Looking back, Greg can’t believe how much his life has changed since that last counselling session. He thinks so differently about himself, feels comfortable in social situations and relates to people in a way he never thought he would be able to. Greg has married the woman he loves and their relationship is really strong. Happiness is a big feature in their lives and they now have two lovely young children. ‘I am so grateful to my counsellor for her help. I am living a full life with a partner who makes me happy every day.’
Greg’s message for males
‘It’s tough being a male, we’re taught to be strong and take care of our own problems but, you can’t thrive in life that way. Life can be tough and we men do suffer. It’s not a sign of weakness to go to counselling, it’s actually a sign of strength. To stand up in the face of a society that has long told us that men should behave in a certain way, not talk about their problems and suffer in silence. My advice is, why suffer? Don’t tough it out unnecessarily – counselling help is out there. Finding the right counsellor is as life-changing as finding the right partner in life. You have one shot at life and I’d hate to have reached the end of my life and wonder how it could have been, if only I had been brave enough to try.’