When Tori began to feel unsafe she reached out for help. She turned to a teacher at her school for support.
Alysha: What made you ask for help? Who did you ask? How did they react?
Tori: When I initially asked for help I broke down at my high school and told a close teacher that I didn't feel safe. I felt really weird saying those words since people don't usually feel unsafe around themselves. Opening up to the teacher was also difficult, but this was me bare as I could be and I needed help. That's when I decided that I could make my life better and I didn't need to suffer anymore.
Alysha: What was the hardest part about asking for help?
Tori: The hardest part about asking for help was explaining why, and being wait-listed. One of my main things is I don't like to tell people everything, but I felt like I had to because they needed to be able to know what I needed help for. Then being on a waiting list, so finally I bring myself to a point where I'm beginning to understand that I do need help and I had to wait for about four months before I received a call back and the first thing I was asked was if I still wanted the help. I was really angry that it took so long but I understood it wasn't that lady's fault and I now see why she would ask me a question like that.
Alysha: Describe the process you went through in seeking mental health services? (referral, first contact with professional, intake meeting, counselling sessions) and what it was like for you.
Tori: I found my getting help experience was really rocky but I'm glad I stuck with it. First time I got help was when I went to my family doctor and told her I wasn't feeling right. She prescribed a medication for me but that was about it. Turns out that medication just made me impulsive and I ended up trying to end my life and being rushed to the hospital where I spent about a month. When I got to the hospital all the nurses, doctors, intake workers and even the social workers were all very distant. They kind of acted like I was a waste of their time because I didn't want to live. They basically talked to me like I was a problem, in the end sending me to a room in the hospital and my parents home with a bunch of questionnaires. I also remember doing a bunch of questionnaires in the hospital and the staff in the ward I was on tried to make it fun and easy for me. There they set me up with a doctor who I would have appointments with a couple times a week, but I just felt like I couldn't trust her. After I got out of the hospital my father's work set me up with a local psychiatrist. This turned out to be a dead end because I didn't feel like I could trust him either until after about four months. Which was about the time my appointments ended with him because that's all the time my father's work would pay for and my family couldn't afford him. Then I went without any help for about a year when I broke down at school and got on the waiting list for two different places that specialized in helping youth. I remember going to a place for younger kids and having to talk to someone there so they could put me in an appropriate place on the waiting list according to my risk. Luckily the teacher that I asked for help took me there and was able to stick with me until I officially got help. Since the waiting lists were so long I simply took the first one that called and had to go through everything that happened in my life again, which I had had to do each time I was introduced to a new person. I also had to sign documents to allow this nurse to have access to my files that the other people have formed. It was nice because the person I got paired with came right to my school, but it was weird sometimes because she would have a nursing student with her. Overall I found the whole thing very tedious and repetitive, I didn't like having to relive everything in my life with each new person I met but I was lucky to have someone who stuck with me through the whole thing.
Alysha: Did your friends/ parents/ school find out about you seeking help? If yes, how did they react?
Tori: My school did find out because they were who I went to get help and I remember my principal coming down and hugging me because the teacher had to tell her according to protocol. It really freaked me out but I understood that this is what had to happen now. Some of my friends found out through my telling them but not really anyone that I didn't want to know. The friends that I did tell were usually trying to find help for their friends or themselves and I just kind of told them how they could go about it and how I went about it.
Alysha: What sort of fears/apprehensions did you have prior to or during your counselling/ treatment?
Tori: Confidentiality was a big problem with me at first. I didn't really understand what certain people were obligated to report due to my age or what not. Also, having the person judge me and blame me. Now I'm having worries about how long I will get to stay with the person I'm with now due to my age.
Alysha: What could professionals do to help ease your fears regarding receiving services?
Tori: Make me feel like I'm a person with feelings. It just seemed obvious to me that I was in emotional pain and it shouldn't matter why I'm hurting simply the fact that I am. Also, having a better system of getting information so I didn't have to repeat everything each time would have helped a lot.
Alysha: What was the best and worst part of getting help? Relief, felt less alone, learned different coping tools etc….
Tori: The best part was learning about why I felt the way I did and the feelings I was having and currently have. Just understanding it helps me in coping. The worst part of getting help was feeling like I didn't deserve it and thinking I had to actually struggle just to get help.
Alysha: How did asking for help benefit you?
Tori: It has changed me life. I'm not suffering nearly as much as I use to and overall has taught me so much about myself. Things aren't perfect now, but they are a lot better than anything that I expected.
Alysha: Do you have any advice for someone thinking of asking for help themselves? Going to counseling for the first time?
Tori: Just remember that these people are here to help you, otherwise they would not have gone into this field, and stick with it.
Alysha: How could a counselor / therapist make the process easier? What do you wish could be done differently?
Tori: Getting information would have helped a lot, and just trying to show that they do care about who I am.
Alysha: If you could say anything to your counsellor, what would it be?
Tori: You are amazing people who choose to take on the emotional troubles of others in order to help them. It seems to be a thankless job but you wouldn't be here if you weren't special and knew that you could help people.