Written by Harriet Dyer


The Life Palavers of Harriet Dyer: Still waiting

Harriet Dyer was a human catastrophe: drugs, drink and institutions. She’s back on her feet and has some life lessons to share. But has she found a counsellor yet? Has she bollocks.

HARRIET DYER (COMEDIAN PROMOTION PHOTOGRAPHY 06.02.2014)I have written before about how much of an actual physical nightmare I found it was to get counselling and I got a lot of replies on social media, some helpful, some not. Some of which I feel warrant a lengthier reply than I could offer in 140 characters.

When someone runs to the defence of the system, it doesn’t really wash with me. If you go down the same path every day and every day a dog jumps out and bites you, eventually you have to change paths. If you get my drift?

It’s hard to see things from the other side if you’re not on that side. To be in that line of work you have to really believe in what you’re doing, so your natural reaction will always be to defend. I’m sure I probably don’t understand some of the workload/time hassles encountered by counsellors but what I do know is that even when overworked there’s still not enough hours available for folk, like me, who need help.

There seem to be a great stock of responses available when you’ve been let down again and again and it can feel a bit like a call-centre read sheet.

I had CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) while I was at university. The woman would read into things that didn’t exist. I’d go every Thursday afternoon and without fail she’d tell me that I was wearing a baseball cap because I was trying to shut the world out, when the only reason I wore it was it was a big student night out on a Wednesday night and my barnet was grubby. The final straw with that idiot was I ended up counselling her because she wanted to move back to India.

Then there was the one in Birmingham that I went to when it was snowy and there was a massive rat outside the door that I slipped on as I arrived. This lady was nice enough but made clear at the start that there were only six sessions; when I got to the crux of things she said that wasn’t enough but didn’t suggest another option. She also said when the six sessions were up that she’d like to remain friends with me and could she hug me. (I’m alright thanks pal, I’ve got a mushed up snow-rat to attend to.)

Then I had a meltdown at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (keeping on trend, there). I rang NHS Direct and the woman said I seemed severely depressed and suicidal but on the plus side I was logical and to go to the doctor and to try the rape crisis centre for counselling the moment I returned home.

I did. The woman who assessed me was shocked to hear what I’d been through and said that even though it would still be a six- to eight-month wait she’d try her best to push me forward.

This was early September 2014; it’s now more than 18 months later. I never heard back from them.

“I’d go to CBT every Thursday afternoon and without fail the woman would tell me that I was wearing a baseball cap because I was trying to shut the world out, when the only reason I wore it was it was a big student night out on a Wednesday night and my barnet was grubby.”

The most competent of my previous plethora of counselling options still wasn’t quite the right fit. When I spoke about things that had happened in my past she said things like, “It’s all very dramatic.” So my doctor said I need someone more equipped to deal with my backlog.

I filled out the online form he suggested. Then a woman rang and we spoke for around two hours. She was great and I really trusted her. I asked whether she could be my counsellor. However, because of the severity of the things I’ve been through, apparently they’re not equipped to deal with me so they forwarded me to someone else who will be in touch in another eight months or so.

So because of the severity of my problems I’ve got to wait longer? Right.

I finally got a doctor (you wouldn’t believe the palaver I had to go through and am still going through to get/keep one I feel happy with) and I’m now on a lot of medication which, even though I don’t want that to be a long-term solution, definitely helps the nonsense in my head feel manageable for the first time since I can remember.

But I’m still waiting for a counsellor. And life’s still a pickle. But I guess no matter how much the pickle feels, it’s always going to be far more pickley for others (great consolation, thanks).

Read all of Harriet’s previous Life Palavers here.


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Written by Harriet Dyer

Harriet Dyer is an eccentric and full of life palavers human being that originally hails from the land of Cornwall.