“You know in airplanes when they say put on your own mask before taking care of anybody else,” asks Secondary Counselor Scott Langston, “well, in life, in general, but certainly as a counselor, if you don’t look after yourself you’re not in a position to look after anybody else.”

Usually, counselors are people who we go to to talk about our feelings and life. But what about theirs? Because counselors are people who have dedicated their lives to helping navigate through emotions, people often stereotype them as people who can’t have any mental illnesses or life-changing challenges. Langston refutes this belief and discusses how counseling other people impacted his mental health as well as talking about an experience that forever changed his perspective.

What follows is his story, in Langston’s own words:

“I think you have to be very good at turning off; you have to have very clear personal boundaries; and you have to look after yourself. You have to have good systems in place for your own well-being because if you listen to people who are genuinely distraught, depressed, and stuck in situations that you can’t do anything about, and then go home and just cogitate on that, you’re going to make yourself ill. So you have to be able to let go of people’s issues and people’s problems and take a step back. That’s not to say sometimes something will hit you and you find it very, very difficult to deal with; but then you have to take time and make sure that you are okay before you get back into it. It’s called compassion fatigue; it’s an actual thing that counselors and therapists [can get].

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I was teaching in Greece and I had a fairly spectacular motorbike crash, which really damaged my leg, and I thought I might lose it at one point. That sort of led me to leave Greece and to decide, you know, you have those moments when you think ‘Am I doing what I want to do?’

You know, if that accident had been the end of it … would I have been happy with everything that I had done? So, I think that led me to realize that I wanted to travel more and do more things and explore different careers, which was one of the things that led me to what I’m doing right now. I think anything that sort of confronts you with your mortality, and makes you stop and think about what life is for, I think those are varied experiences.”