Let me be honest. I have a secret BFF. She's the coolest girl who I confide everything to, without judgement and with brutal honestly (okay, nearly brutal honesty; I'm not perfect).
So who is this mystery woman?
I'm talking about my beloved counselor. Some might have a psychologist or even a psychiatrist. I have a counselor and she deserves some attention. Why? Because she's become a critical part of my health and happiness.
Let's be honest: More of us see one than we're willing to admit, and others need one more than they're willing to admit.
I found Shannon through a friend after a doctor suggested nearly six years that I find someone to talk to after a major health crisis on my 30th birthday, and with a 4-month-old at home. Suddenly, I became paralyzed from the chest down, unable to move, urinate or hold my daughter. I was diagnosed with transverse myelitis, a one in a million neurological condition, and hospitalized for a month.
Fortunately, six years later I'm mostly recovered however I do have residual medical issues even my most supportive family and friends can't relate to. And, while my situation might be unique, how much can you burden your loved one with all the crap, or how long can you keep that inside?
For someone like my sweet husband who was willing to listen forever and to let me vent, I couldn't let it be the core focus of our marriage and conversations. I needed a third party, and an impartial voice that would hear me, and also respond candidly.
I realized during my first meeting with Shannon that she was someone I needed to speak with more often. She was a sounding board, had smart, tangible ideas to improve my situation and yet sympathized and let me take time to "feel" the frustration and sadness when I needed to.
My life had completely changed in an instant and frankly, we can't be happy and smiley all the time. She reminded me to take time to mourn the life (and body) that is no longer. It's the same "mourning" that people who end significant relationships or have someone close pass away should do. Mourn a past life and experience in order to welcome in a new one.
Maybe this is the obvious, of what all counselors/psychologists, should do and how helpful they should be, but I never had the positive, cathartic experience I had with her. I say that all women, major illness or not, need a secret BFF. They're fabulous!
I reminded myself of her value recently when my life was seemingly going fine, albeit crazy busy, and all of a sudden I had this mini freak out moment where I just needed to speak to her. I hadn't realized nearly three months had gone by since my last visit and things were welling up inside me.
I bring this up because like I said you don't have to be sick or one step away from major depression to see a counselor. There's lots of "eh" days or times when you're in a rut for no reason and just need to talk it out. It's important to chat with your BFF when you're feeling good so you don't get to those bad days. I walked away from my last vent feeling like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
Even the coolest girl with the most badass girl posse needs a secret BFF; let that girl (or guy) help manage your stress, happiness, sadness and freak outs. While my BFF has been a secret, she's now out of the closet; she's just too awesome to keep private any longer.
For more from Alyson, visit www.theaveragegirlsguide.com, or follow her on social at @avggirlsguide.