I went to counselling for a while last year. Although this was a challenge for me at first, I am really positive about the benefits of this kind of help. I have come to realise it takes strength to face your demons.
I am lucky though. I have a supportive family and in this instance I had a wonderful friend who encouraged me to make the call. You know who you are and for that – and all the other times you have been there for me, of which there have been many – I thank you.
As I picked up the phone and dialled the number, my hands were shaking and heart racing. I felt nervous.
I had conflicting feelings at the time. Even though I had been to counselling before, I still struggled with taking this step.
My inner dialogue went something like this:
“Surely I should be over this by now…”
“…But I nearly died.”
“I didn’t though and my children are here in front of me, happy and thriving…”
“…But I feel angry that I missed the first few days of their life.”
“Everything is okay now, just get over it…”
“…But I have horrible flashbacks of what happened, which makes me feel sick and panicky.”
And so on….
Eventually, I made the call. The first time, I hung up before anyone answered. They called back but I was too anxious to answer. A few hours later, I dialled again. A very friendly lady answered the phone, took my details and booked me in. I realised that it wasn’t a sign of weakness (a word that I hear people use in connection to therapy all too frequently) that I needed somebody to talk to. Rather it was a sign of strength and determination to deal with my experiences, ensuring that I could appreciate the boys’ early years.
I went to my sessions. They were brilliant and really helped me see things clearly.
The counsellor was welcoming and calm; he asked me open questions and listened intently. He didn’t judge me. He gave me time and space to talk about how I had been feeling.
It felt good to speak to someone who didn’t have any emotional attachment to the situation and could look at it impassively, without concern. I feel it is important that he didn’t give me advice because it was more about coming to my own conclusions.
I didn’t feel that I was wasting the man’s time. At the end of my first session, he suggested that I was suffering from PTSD. I was not entirely surprised. Up to this point I had wondered if it was post-natal depression. Later, while researching this blog, I have found out that, sadly, PTSD is very common in cases such as mine.
This whole experience got me thinking: why don’t I write it all down? That’s why I started this blog. Perhaps subconsciously I sought to use it as a different type of therapy.
I am sure that many people were unaware of the inner turmoil I was going through after the birth. I have a very good poker face, which usually only my mum and husband can see through. I have to point out that unfortunately that doesn’t seem to work when I am actually playing poker, I am rubbish at it. Although I have usually had wine and giggle too much, which probably doesn’t help.
I also think that some close to me didn’t realise how ill I actually was after the boys were born. I hope this blog can change that. I may not have had the strength to speak about it in detail to my nearest and dearest, but I do have the strength to write it – well I hope I do or this blog isn’t going to get very far.
I am keen to raise awareness of HELLP through the blog as well. I have a fire in my belly to do that now; I would never have had the strength to do that a year ago.
One of my favourite bloggers, The Anxious Dragon, wrote a thought-provoking post on whether someone is a survivor or a victim; this has given me food for thought for the last 24 hours. I am proud to be both. I think that is what makes us human.
For more information on Counselling, please visit the NHS website