I myself would have been the first person to say that counselling is not for everyone. Now however after having come out the other side, I would say don’t rule it out until you have given it a go.
A desire to go to counselling was something I spoke about for many years, I had this longing to understand where my lack of self confidence had emanated from. It was the same self confidence that kept me from going. The idea of sitting in front of someone and laying myself bare didn’t seem so appealing after all.
Fast forward 10 maybe 15 years and my life had changed dramatically. What had once been low level anxiety and confidence issues were now taking over my life.
In 2012 a bad fall resulted in the need for surgery and then a six month recovery period learning how to reuse my leg. It was during this time I noticed the toll that Alzheimer’s / Dementia was having on my Mum. From that point life was never the same again.
I foolishly thought I could cope with everything on my own. I battled on, because I had to, my life wasn’t just about me anymore, because I was now caring for someone else.
My Mum’s dementia worsened. My Father and I never asked for help, we didn’t think our problems were as bad as anyone elses. Some days we struggled, but we adapted as best we could. This was uncharted territory. My Mum was the one who had been a nurse and would have known exactly what to do.
Unless you have been in a similar situation yourself I could never accurately describe what it is like to be a carer. It’s an emotional roller coaster, exhausting, heartbreaking, infuriating and extremely stressful. No two persons experiences will be the same, so while you can chat with others in the same situation, there will always be things that are new to everyone. One thing that does ring true no matter who you speak to is how difficult it can be and also how life changing.
My days became a routine of worry, on my way to work I would worry about what the day was going to bring and on my way home I worried what faced me there too. I cried a lot, and I also got angry. I couldn’t understand why this was happening to us.
Along with the loss of my free time I found the aggression the hardest trait of dementia to deal with. My confidence hit rock bottom and I constantly questioned how I handled situations, forgetting that I was human and therefore prone to making mistakes. I was far from perfect, but I did my best.
I felt trapped and as things got darker so did my thoughts, my anxieties and worries were consuming me.
While I would never have commited suicide or even attempted to, I did have a store of tablets left over from my surgery that I told myself were my get out clause if things got too bad. My escape route. Im only realising now how painful that is to admit, how it would have made my Mum feel, had she been well, if I had been driven to that point.
I broke down in work frequently, joking when I did that I thought I needed to see a counsellor. Looking back now I think I wanted someone to tell me I was right, that I did need help. Perhaps I just needed someone else to understand, to actually hear me instead of just watching my lips move.
They had heard me. It was only after I had asked for an appointment to be made that my boss told me that had I not decided to make one when I did, then she would have made one for me.
It was on the day of my initial assessment that my life changed. When I told the lady who was eventually to become my counsellor that I thought I was wasting her time and there were people in the world far worse than I, she pretty much told me I was right where I needed to be. At that moment I knew I had made the right decision. Someone else had given me hope and I was grabbing it with both hands.
To be continued…..
(I was asked by a few people to share my experience of counselling, but before doing so I thought it only fair to share the reason why I needed it in the first place, hence this introduction.)