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Why I Went To Counselling: A Real Life Account Of Seeking Support for Anxiety

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Why I Went To Counselling: A Real Life Account Of Seeking Support for Anxiety

Anxiety is a profound and often silent struggle that weaves its threads through the minds and hearts of so many people we see.  It unfolds differently in each person sometimes leading to feelings of isolation, frustation, fear, and more.  Our guest writer, David Cay, is a leader in Calgary and shares his experience with anxiety and his counselling journey.

Guest Author:  David Cay


I’ve always been an anxious person. As far as I’ve remembered I have struggled with anxiety in some form. I remember in elementary, I caught someone staring at me and I didn’t know why. And it really bothered me. So, for the rest of that day, I replayed hypothetical scenarios of why this person was staring at me. And I concluded that this person must hate me. 

When Junior High and High School hit, I became a chronic people pleaser. I wanted to be liked. I wanted people to laugh at my jokes. I remember waving at a friend, but when he didn’t wave back - my mind went into a frenzy. 

I started thinking "Maybe I offended him somehow" or "maybe I said something mean and now he’s mad at me"? These types of thoughts would plague my life. I wish I could say that this was a one-time thing, but it happened often. And it was exhausting! But I was adamant that when I become an adult, I would stop having these types of thoughts.

But to my chagrin, it didn’t stop. Sure, I was now older - hopefully more mature but the truth was the anxiety didn’t stop. It was still there haunting me like a ghost. After college, I became a Pastor. I got married at 23 and had my first child at 25. Then I decided to start a new church. 

All these changes came with more responsibilities! The pressures of having to provide for your family and pay for bills started to weigh heavily on me. But being a Pastor was not easy either.  The rollercoaster ride can be fickle. One moment you can be like a hero. People loved your sermon. You get texts and emails telling you how great you are. I had people literally tell me that I was their inspiration. Boy that felt so good to hear. Remember I’m a chronic people pleaser and there is nothing better than affirmation and admiration from your peers. 

It was like a drug. But as Cornelius Lindsey once said, “If you live off a man's compliments, you'll die from his criticism.” And to be honest that’s exactly what happened. I thrived when people complimented me but what happens when the compliments stop? What happens when self-doubt starts to creep in? 

Things were not looking good for the church we had started 8 years ago. In October 2017, we made the painful (yet right) decision to end the church we loved so much and merge with another church.  The process was tough, the conversations were many, it was hard to do - and on top of all that I was running on fumes. I was burnt out. Inside, I was starting to feel like a failure.

My whole identity was tied to this church, and now it was gone. It was done. I didn’t know who I was without it. I got depressed. I felt numb. I didn’t feel any joy at all. I just wanted to hide in my bed. Thankfully, my new church gave me a mini sabbatical. 

During that time off, I was encouraged by some friends to go get counselling.  Like many who have never done counselling before, I was hesitant. Again, I kept thinking of what people would think if they found out?  There is a stigma to accessing mental health support. For example, telling my parents - that was hard to do.

In my Asian context, sometimes the answer to mental health is to just work harder and “man up”. But I honestly had nothing left. I had no fight left. I knew there was something wrong with me mentally and emotionally. I needed to get help. I couldn’t continue living like this. I was so exhausted.

So, I went to professional counselling, and it was one of the best decisions in my life. In one of our first sessions, we went through David Burns “Cognitive Distortions” from his book, The Feeling Good Handbook. We went through the whole list, and I had ALL of them! I had all the distortions- all 10 of them. I was shocked!

We pushed on.  Working through all my emotions and painful experiences with my counsellor was very uncomfortable and If I’m being honest, many times, it wasn’t very fun - it was all so necessary. It was crucial if I wanted to get better - and boy did it ever help.

During this process something hit me like a freight train - what if letting ourselves be uncomfortable could be a precursor to recovery? What if it could be the start of a healing process? Would that make a bit of discomfort worth it?  Maybe that's not the process for everyone, but for me it certainly was.  

My experience and opinion:  I think there's value in what I did everyone should go to counselling.  In fact, for many, it's probably worth considering sooner rather than waiting till you're depressed to go.  Rather than waiting to be reactive to "fix" our mental or emotional situations I'd encourage many to be proactive when it comes to our mental health. 

Did Counselling cure me of my anxiety? No, it didn’t. I still have anxiety. But what it did was it gave me the tools to cope properly when anxious thoughts come or when a wave of depression hits. 

It helped me process and look at anxiety with a proper perspective. So, if you suffer from anxiety and depression, let me encourage you - It’s ok to ask for help. It doesn’t make you weak. We need to get rid of those stigmas. It’s definitely worth it. 



David Cay is the Adult Ministries Pastor at Lighthouse Community Church and a Leader in the Calgary Community.  To learn more about David please visit or email him directly at

At Refresh Counselling, we offer your first 20-minute session at no charge.  This is your opportunity to ask any question you would like to ask, and get a feel of what future sessions will be like.  This will also give us a chance to get to know you and start preparing for our next session.

We offer you a complimentary consultation (a 20-minute session).  This provides the opportunity to meet your therapist, ask any questions, understand what future sessions will be like, and ensure that you feel safe and a connection with your psychologist.  This also gives us a chance to get to know you a bit and prepare for our next session.

This is one of the most common counselling questions we get asked and certainly makes sense because the nature of therapy is so dynamic.  Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. we tailor our therapeutic approach to your specific needs.

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