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Is it worth going to therapy during Covid-19 and is it even possible?

Ask Roe: I had a challenging childhood and have found it difficult to think I’m worthy of love

Dear Roe,

I'm in my 30s and have a really rewarding but stressful job. I do have wonderful friends – who I don't want to burden as everyone is quite stretched with life at the moment. I'm single and don't live at home but do have a warm, loving family. If honest, I had quite a challenging childhood and as a result have found it difficult to think I'm worthy of love. Often I think I'm self-absorbed, even though I don't discuss this with anyone.

I have had some mental-health issues in the past but I've never had proper therapy. At times I think it might help, other times I think I'm being foolish and weak. Now I'm not even sure it's possible with Covid. The one thought that recurs is that I could be a better friend and/or better version of myself at work if I resolved some of this fuzz. Is therapy worth prioritising and is it even possible in the midst of Covid?

Yes, yes, yes, for the love of all the gods, yes. Everything inside of you is simultaneously telling you to take care of yourself right now and acknowledging all of the very valid reasons why you need to do so: your challenging childhood, your stressful job, your previous mental-health issues, your lack of feeling truly emotionally supported in your friendships, your desire to “resolve the fuzz”.


And still, you’re asking for permission. You’re asking for permission to prioritise therapy. You’re asking for permission to prioritise yourself. You’re asking for permission to prove that you are indeed “worthy of love” – even from yourself.

You’re asking me for permission to prioritise yourself because you need someone else to validate your completely understandable and healthy desire to finally, for once, prioritise yourself. You’re asking me because you don’t yet feel ready to grant yourself permission to prioritise yourself.

Do you know what will help you get to the place where you give yourself permission to love yourself? Therapy. So yes, you have my full, unequivocal “permission” to prioritise yourself and get yourself to therapy. In fact, my “permission” is more like a loving, metaphorical, socially-distant shove. Get yourself to therapy.

Yes, therapy is available during Covid – it’s available online and over the phone and over video chat, and during periods when it is safe to do so, some therapists will be doing in-person meetings in full accordance with safety regulations. You can look up individual therapists or check in with counselling centres where several therapists are based, and have a chat about your particular needs, so they can help refer you to someone who might be suitable.

Bear in mind that sometimes a particular therapist won’t be the right fit and this is completely fine and normal. If there are any financial concerns, many therapists offer sliding-scale rates or there are free online and phone counselling services and crisis lines listed on the Health Service Executive website, some of which I’ll list at the bottom of this column.

Therapy and support is still available during Covid. It’s also the perfect time to take the leap and try therapy for the first time – not just because so many of us need more support right now but because this pandemic is uprooting so much about our lives that it’s a very good time to re-evaluate our needs and priorities, to think about the ways we want to personally rebuild and orient our lives.

The only obstacle to you getting support is your hesitance to accept that you believe you deserve support.

Reaching out

Many people who have had challenging childhoods, who have had to survive mental-health struggles without support, who are high achievers with “challenging but rewarding” jobs, who are emotionally independent types who don’t like “burdening” others with their emotional realities, find it hard to reach out for support.

Many people find it difficult to surrender the belief that their entire self-worth lies in never complaining, never needing support. This is an idea rooted in shame, shame regarding the parts of you that are vulnerable, that have needs, that crave desire and support and love. It is this shame that regards asking for help as “weak” and “foolish”.

I’m willing to bet you don’t use that language to describe others who seek out therapy and support, and wouldn’t judge the people you love for seeking out support when they need it.

So I think you need to acknowledge three things.

One, that you, like everyone else, deserve support, deserve to feel heard and understood, deserve to commit to learning how to love themselves better.

Two, that you don’t have to go to therapy to “be a better friend and/or better version of myself at work”. Not everything you do has to serve other people. You can go to therapy and prioritise yourself just because it’s necessary and good for you; just because it makes existing in your mind and body easier; because it helps you process your past experiences and present experiences. Your instinct to justify going to therapy because it will make you a more productive person for other people is still rooted in your belief that you aren’t worthy just as you are. You have nothing to prove. Go to therapy not to serve other people but to serve yourself.

Finally, recognise something wonderful and encouraging: you struggle with prioritising yourself, with asking for support, with giving yourself permission to ask for what you need. Yet you wrote in to this column, doing just that. You have already done the hard bit; you have taken the first step on the path to a more honest, more vulnerable, more self-accepting and yes, self-loving life. You have made the first move in changing your life. You’re slowly teaching yourself how to prioritise yourself, to believe that you’re worthy of support.

And even though doing that doesn’t have to benefit anyone else, it usually implicitly does. Because by writing in, by trying to take that first step, by expressing your desire for support and the hope that you can, some day, with a bit of help, truly love and value yourself just as you are, you have given other people permission to do the same. By giving yourself permission to care about yourself, you empower others to do the same.

You’ve taken the first step. Give yourself the permission to keep going.

Free online counselling is available on mymind.organd If you're feeling overwhelmed, you can text HELLO to 50808 for a calming chat with a trained crisis volunteer, or freephone the Samaritans on 116 123. The HSE website has a list of free and low-cost mental-health services, including phone lines, online counselling and mental-health resources.

If you have a problem or query you would like her to answer, you can submit it anonymously at