49 Going on 50 Mentoring Tip #20: DON'T WAIT TO GET HELP.

If you have a problem that you haven't been able to solve in a reasonable period of time -- or if you experience intrusive thoughts or ones that you don't want or can't control -- seek counseling.

I am a very big fan of counseling. I have sought it early and as often as necessary. Want to be a writer but make up reasons why you should remain trapped in your  corporate job that is financially safe but that makes you feel like you're selling yourself short and that you know you're going to fail at eventually? Check! Dating a great guy who expects you to read his mind and doesn't understand that that's impossible? Check! Mentally preparing yourself for your mother's impending death so that being an orphan at 35 doesn't devastate you? Check. Need to extricate yourself from the beliefs that permeate your family, race, gender, religion, nationality, etc., but that don't work for you? Check.

You have a pastor, a doctor, an accountant, a plumber, tech-support person, a sanitation engineer -- so why not a counselor? What's the big deal? Oh, yeah, it's expensive. Well, so are those shoes. So is the trip to the mall (or Cancun) you take to escape your life. So is repeating the same mistakes. 

Think of counseling as an investment rather than as an expense. There are psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, counselors, therapists. Training abounds so research the different styles and training types, ask friends who have gotten great results for referrals and interview therapists to see if they're helped anyone in a situation like yours and to see how you feel with them. 

Unless you need medication (think: depression, anxiety, etc.), you probably don't need a psychiatrist, the most expensive practitioners. But even if you do need medication, a psychiatrist can prescribe it and a less expensive practitioner can treat you. Some practitioners -- social workers, for example -- work on a sliding income scale. You can go as an individual, married or unmarried couple or family or participate as a member of a group. There are groups of people growing in all kinds of ways: addiction-recovery support groups, grief groups, church groups, and so on. Get in where your wallet allows you to fit in. But Lord knows, do not wake up 5 or 10 years from now trapped in the same life, problems or uncomfortable thoughts. That is far more painful than the investment of time, money and attention to yourself that you may need to make to heal. 

So don't waste time or procrastinate because of your ego or pride. If you suspect you need counseling, go now.