I am writing to ask you something quite silly really when I think about it. I am struggling with a bit of depression, mixed with a lack of self-worth at the moment. I know I really should book an appointment with a professional therapist, but I can’t bring myself to do it.
I’ve tried picking up the phone a few times, but I just feel embarrassed. There are all these people out there it feels with huge problems and then there's me with something of nothing. Also, I would hate my friends or family to know I was attending sessions with a counsellor. I feel they would laugh at me, or think I was weak and I'd be gutted if the lads at rugby found out as I imagine they would make fun of me.
Should I call, or just deal with my problems on my own?
You are not alone in your fears and embarrassment. I work with a number of sports professionals in many different disciplines, from amateur to professionals in the sporting and business sphere, so I can understand your initial trepidation at seeking help.
I always say we should be open about therapy. We should embrace it and the amazing benefits it can bring. It should not be talked about in hushed tones in dark corners. There is absolutely a societal stigma at play, particularly concerning men and especially men who are involved in sports! However, I think that you would be genuinely surprised about the number of male athletes who seek therapeutic support, granted perhaps on the quiet.
Liverpool FC fans as an example may be aware that Steven Gerrard visited the world-renowned Steve Peters for mind management. If it’s good enough for the former England football captain, dealing daily with all that pressure and fame, then I’m sure you may benefit too. Steve Peters released a very popular book, called the ‘Chimp Paradox’. Referring to a book like this is a good starting point for some light reading that gets you comfortable with self-reflection whilst also learning some potential coping strategies as to how best to combat your depression and confidence struggles.
Tailored one-to-one coaching is nothing to be fearful of and it is an effective way to improve performance on and off the pitch. Be mindful that each and every therapist is bound by a strict code of confidentiality, therefore your sessions will always remain completely private between yourself and the counsellor. Your family members, friends, or anybody for that matter, do not need to know. In addition, the beauty of the therapeutic process is that you are in control! You get to decide whether you wish to attend a session or not. There is, therefore, no harm in attending a consultation in order to gauge how you feel.
It may be worth considering further Edwin, your concern about what others may think or feel about you. Often when we face depression or low self-worth, it is because how we value our self is informed not by ourselves, but by the perceptions or expectations of other people. This may well be a factor to explore further in your therapy sessions, should you choose to give it a try.
It is my hope in time that people come to recognise the collective value in therapy for us all. The act of seeking therapy should be appreciated as an act of strength, not weakness. When we take a moment to stop and think about it logically, the act of self-reflection and the desire for self- improvement is nothing to be embarrassed about. There is nothing silly about wishing to heal from whatever it is that is causing you to suffer. Take some time to consider your next steps Edwin. Prioritise your health and your happiness in this moment, for you deserve to be living your best life!
Wishing you success, confidence and happiness for whatever direction you choose.