I'm a big advocate of counselling or any kind of therapy. I think every adult is walking around with issues, traumas, and habits they need to talk out.
I was in two types of therapy for much of 2016. The primary psychologist I saw helped me work through anxiety and post-traumatic stress, dating back to adolescence. My husband and I also saw a relationship specialist to figure our interpersonal problems out.
I went into 2017 feeling fantastic – I literally know everything about myself and can analyse life objectively – and 2018 has remained the same. However, I'm also an advocate of what I call "top up" therapy.
I'm doing a month of top-ups with a new therapist: four sessions to keep my mental health on track. My first was last week.
Why get a mental health check-up if I'm already feeling like I have my life on track? Because mental health is not static. It's a moving beast of a thing. It tricks you and takes you down long hallways you don't even know about.
I'm smart enough to know that just because I figured out all my psychological issues once, doesn't mean I'll be fine forever. Like any other kind of health, mental health maintenance is continuous work.
What can you expect in a top-up session with a therapist or counsellor? It's a really good way to download your progress since you last spoke to a professional. I was able to self-reflect on how I'd grown, what lessons I had put into practice, and what aspects of therapy I'd let fall by the wayside.
As mentioned, historically I've struggled with anxiety, and it was really nice to get objective feedback on how well I manage it now. I see my mental health top-up as no different to my regular GP check-ups: basic assessment of my health, the opportunity to raise any concerns, and the support to deal with them. I think we could all see such psychological check-ups as part of our routine annual healthcare.
The magazine Psychology Today believes as society we need much more education about "psychological functioning, character, well-being, resiliency, and psychopathology". I can't stress how much I agree with this. I think every single person should go to therapy for a period of their adult life, in order to learn how to understand these fundamentals and apply them to personal experiences. It's not a weakness to get any kind of therapy; in fact, quite the opposite. It's a sign of mental strength that you want to be your best self.
This is what I'll be using the remainder of my therapy top-up sessions for. Becoming the most ideal version of myself as possible.
Personally, I want to work through some of my lingering issues concerning obsessive perfectionism.
I want to learn how to remain cool, calm, and collected in the run-up to high-stakes social situations (like public speaking and meeting very important people).
We're not diagnosing anything new in these check-ups. I'm choosing the agenda with my therapist and she's helping me with what I want help on. It's targeted and, quite honestly, fun.
Therapy and counselling top-ups are all about making positive changes. Society's mental health stigma is tiring; we all have problems. Getting professional help is a good way to manage them, and making that help something you revisit every year is how you keep your mental health toolbox stocked – so you are ready to take on anything.
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youth services: (06) 3555 906
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• The Word
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• CASPER Suicide Prevention
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.