When I was in my late teens I developed depression. I'd no real idea why - nothing that bad was happening to me, apart from the usual teenage angst, so of course other people found it hard to understand why I felt the way I did. At that time, a visit to your GP to explain that you were feeling really low simply led to a prescription of anti-depressants and sleeping pills - and a warning not to come off them too suddenly, as that could be dangerous. All that did was create a mind fog, but didn't alleviate the low mood, plus of course I was scared to stop taking my medication, and felt embarrassed to feel the way I did, as many people simply thought I should "snap out of it!" In all this time, the only event that lifted my mood, was when I saw a really lovely woman on a one off occasion (arranged as a favour to my father, who knew somebody who knew her), and talked to her about how I was feeling, and what was happening in my life. I left her office feeling that the fog had lifted and the sun had come out. Sadly, there was no question of going to see her again, and counselling wasn't something that was thought of then - or if it was, nobody ever suggested it to me. But that moment of feeling understood, my pain acknowledged, with total empathy and without judgement, has always stayed with me. I know that if I had been able to regularly talk to somebody like that back then, I may not have needed those pills, and I would very definitely have recovered much quicker. There have been other moments in my life when people close to me have suffered with depression, and counselling could have helped them, too, but it wasn't offered to them either. It's always made me feel incredibly sad to think how their suffering could have been alleviated. And that's why, some years ago, I decided that I wanted to take my degree in Therapeutic Counselling. I really wanted to be able to help other people, to try and support them by being there to listen to them, to help them find ways to improve their mental wellbeing. Taking the degree also taught me a huge amount about myself, and gave me a better understanding of what has led me to be who and how I am. It's been immensely rewarding to be able to make a difference to people's lives - and I'm now doing this through both talking therapy and exercise, as I realised that this combination has benefits for both physical and psychological wellbeing, but more about exercise another day...!