Monday, 20 July 2015

Is counselling just for the Kardashians?

A couple of months ago, I took myself off to the Doctors with a suspected kidney infection. I'd had tests and been put on two courses of strong Antibiotics and nothing had worked. I was fuming and I wanted answers RIGHT NOW.
Dr. Dave informed me that it was strange because my results were clear. He then said that, to be sure, and because I was complaining about INTENSE PAIN IN MY KIDNEY he would examine me. He pressed on my back and said 'Is the pain there?'.... 'YES, THAT'S EXACTLY WHERE IT IS'.... 'Well, Mrs. Giblin, that is not your kidney. In fact, there's nothing there at all.'

So yeah, that was awks. Dr. Dave's next question was 'And could you now tell me what is making you so anxious and stressed?' - cue a breakdown so big, poor D.D had to put his fan on to try and calm me down.

Dr. Dave listened. He said my symptoms highlighted that I had tried to keep a lot of things inside and my body was telling me it was time to let them out. He said I had a sad heart, which made me feel even more sad. He then said he thought I would possibly benefit from counselling. 'BUT TALKING ABOUT IT WON'T MAKE IT GO AWAY, DR. DAVE.' I wept through my soggy tissue. As far as I was concerned, counselling was for the Kardashians. Famous people love therapists, lying on fancy couches, dealing with their sex tape leaking/their husband's drug addiction/their father becoming Caitlin.... but is it really for a normal person?
D.D said he would say it was like being stuck in a pit and somebody offering you a ladder to get out. That sounded quite pleasant to me so I agreed.

Now, the first assessment session was a complete nightmare. I was asked to fill in a form ticking how I felt about certain things. When I handed said form back, I was told 'Now, the really great thing about this form is that it tells me you don't want to kill yourself'. Just to clarify, I had ticked 'No' to the question 'Would you like to commit suicide?'..... So yeah, once we had that cleared up, he then decided I was anxious, not depressed and stressed, not suicidal and informed me an appointment would be on it's way in the post.

I left feeling really deflated and it's a miracle I even went to the actual counselling session at all.... However....

1. The room in which the session takes place is nothing like on the tele. There is no couch. There is nothing exciting whatsoever. There is just two chairs, a clock and a box of tissues.

2. Talking. Without particularly being prompted, and at both sessions I have been to so far, I talked solidly for the full allocated 50 minutes. To the point where, at the first session I got so into it the poor woman was practically shutting the door in my face as I remembered to tell her 'I DONT LIKE HUGGING, WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT MEANS?'

3. The Answers.  I answered a lot of my own questions. Yes, the counsellor will offer input. Most of this is an assessment of what you have said. She always will say 'Now, I don't know what you think of this but....' These things are not answers, they don't conflict with anything you have said and they don't really make you feel better. What makes you feel better is emptying your brain and realising you have a reason for keeping those things in there.

4. Grief. Grief can be the loss of anything. It can be applied to the life you once lived, or a person who has changed. You might not even know you are suffering with grief, because if you associate it with death and nobody has died, why would you? If something has changed and it is out of your control, you may need to grieve for it. It's a process which starts with recognising that it's OK to grieve.....

5. Anxiety. If you suffer with Anxiety you will know the overwhelming feeling you get in your chest when you need to make something OK right there and then and don't know how. After talking for a little while, I soon began to realise the main cause of my anxiety and stress was coming from the fact I was trying to worry about the little things, so that the bigger picture didn't hurt me. Realising this, and understanding that doing this was making things worse has started to make things better.

6. Offending people. The need for counselling doesn't mean other people aren't helping you. They are helping you in every way they can, and they won't be disappointed that you have chosen to use another route, too. Sometimes you just need the space counselling allows you to have.

I am only two sessions into counselling, but I have noticed all of the symptoms of my 'Kidney infection' disappeared straight away. I am trying not to let the little things bother me as much. The bigger picture is painful, and gets tougher every single day but adding to the real problems with ones my head was making up definitely wasn't helping.

I know counselling doesn't work for everybody, but I also know people like me are out there who will say 'NOT FOR ME'.... when they haven't tried it. I also know the reason I didn't want to try it is because I was scared it would make no difference. It won't cure my Husband's illness, or make him able to feed himself again. It won't stop my heart breaking into a million pieces when he cries at another thing he is not able to do, and it won't stop the sheer exhaustion of being woken up hourly during the night whilst he is in agonising pain, or to move his arm stuck under the duvet. Those things are reality and counselling will never change them.

However, what it is doing is making me realise that I may need to grieve for the way things where,
I may need to talk for fifty full minutes about things nobody else wants to hear......
I might need to empty my head of every thought and leave the room like I walking on clouds.....
and that is OK.......

I understand that, I am not two people - one happy and one grieving. I can't cut part of me away and stay so strong I stamp all over the other one. Both of those people merge to make me and when I look at it like that, I don't actually think I'm doing that bad a job.


  1. I agree with all of this - counselling should be for anyone who feels they need it.

    Lizzie Dripping

  2. An interesting and honest post, and one which I think will help others. Thank you for writing this.


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