So about a year ago I finally started to admit that I had a problem. I had to, it was getting too big to ignore any more. My low point? The phone rang and I knew husband was going to answer it, so I ran out of the house and hid behind the compost heap, where he found me, blubbering tears with snot running down my face. I can’t remember the conversation after (presumably after the kids were in bed), but I agreed to go and see the doctor, at his suggestion. I couldn’t really refuse could I.
I remember feeling utterly helpless around this time. I couldn’t work out what the next step would be, not just what I should do, but just anticipating what could possibly happen now. I felt like I was going insane. And yet I knew that as mental health crisis go, hiding in the garden from the phone was pretty low impact.
So on my way to the doctors, I could only think that the possibilities were that I would be diagnosed with having a Serious Problem and then, I wasn’t sure what, drugs? (didn’t like the sound of that), surely not hospitilisation (after all I was functioning on many levels) what else then (the mental health narrative in my head was a little confused, telling me that there are Really Ill People and Fine People and I seemed to be neither), who knew what then. So if not this then surely the only other thing that the doctor could do would be to dismiss me out of hand, tell me off for wasting his time, send me home. Understandably I was a little nervous on the way. I packed tissues.
What happened, surprised me. First he told me that I didn’t look depressed, that my appearance suggested I was looking after myself (so far so easy to understand, I didn’t think I was depressed). Then he said that I should just not answer the phone. What? That if it stressed me out, I should just not do it, other people would cope, it wasn’t the end of the world, sounded like I’d had a busy year (we’d moved house 6 months ago) and it was ok for me to do this. He chatted to me about authors, recommended a couple of books and suggested I try Mood Gym (free online CBT course). He also added that if I felt I needed to, then I should go back and see him.
Well, if I was surprised, hubby was stunned when I told him. But, give the doctor his due, it kind of worked. (And give hubby his due, he didn’t complain about what had been said.) Anyway, it released the tension. What I was feeling wasn’t normal, but it was ok not to feel normal. It wasn’t something to be dismissed, but it wasn’t something to panic about either. I guess the word is acceptance.
So, for a while, I felt a bit better. I did stuff. I noodled about on mood gym (never finished it, maybe I’ll review it another time). And then I went back to my tried and trusted distraction technique of doing lots of sewing. And not keeping on top of things. And the anxiety came back. Really bad. Hubby pointed out that if I was working I’d be off sick and having to do something about it. I resolved to see the doctor again, ask for more help. This was all at the end of the summer holidays so I thought I’d wait until the kids were back at school as it would make an appointment easier.
By the time term started again I was feeling a bit better. I muddled through some more. Around this time I finally started to find some people online who, if not quite like me, I could identify with and I started blogging. I kept muddling through, with peaks and troughs, good days/weeks and bad ones.
Slowly though, the idea has been building in my head, that whilst I’m coping better than I was, I’m not really getting anywhere. I’m not at the lows I was a year ago (although I was heading close recently), but I’m managing my symptoms better rather than working at the causes. And then I got asked if I was seeing anyone, a counselor or a therapist.
Well the answer is no. I have thought about going back go the GP and seeing if I can get referred to a CBT group or similar. Last time I thought about this I decided I had to read the books he’d suggested first so I bought them and distracted myself by reading some sci fi (yes, he recommended a couple of sci fi novels, but after discussing authors with me and discovering we had similar tastes). I’m currently a bit wary about going back, after all we did have a disagreement about referring my son for ASC assessment and although he’s done it following my written request I’m worried he thinks I’m fussing.
I’ve also thought about arranging privately to see a counsellor in the past, I went so far as finding one to approach. And then didn’t. And then haven’t been able to find the same one online again. Obviously I couldn’t just choose another, oh no, enter Inner Perfectionist. Or was it Inner Procrastinist. Anyway, I finally started looking again the other day after being jolted by the question I’d been asked in my comments and reading about what good stuff it was doing for others. And that’s when I realised that I have a big problem with Counsellors/Therapists in general. In my head, they’re not my kind of people. They drink herb tea, and wear bangles and long flowey skirts and are generally hippyish (all things I have been known to do myself by the way). But that’s just the surface, in my head, they’re not “people like me”, they’re not scientists, they’re the kind of people who wind me up and aren’t logical and invade your personal space and stare too much and ………… I can’t articulate this. Anyway, it’s clear that I have decided against them, on, lets face it, very little evidence and have a bit of a prejudice going on. Which may well be a defensive “I don’t want to do this leave me to my comfortable Ostrich Coping Strategies” ways. I tried to think who I would like to talk to, and the only person I can think of is my former physiotherapist, no nonsense, Australian, empathetic, logical, scientific.
Well, last week, I looked at local counsellors again. And I decided I liked the profile of one. OK, so her photo looks a bit hippyish, but I liked what she wrote, in particular she actually explained what all the “regulated by ….” stuff they all put means, in English. Plus she does CBT (which seems to be all the rage) as well as other stuff. And I bit the bullet and emailed her.
So tomorrow I have a 30 min initial appointment. Eek. I think I’m most worried about explaining why I want some help. Where do I start? I’m also anticipating she’ll ask me what I want to get out of it, and I don’t know, I’m not that clear. Actually, that was supposed to be the point of writing this post, to work out what I want out of it, but I seem to have got distracted with a bit of history.
So, there we go, I’m now out, I’m a counselling virgin, with prejudices against counsellors, about to attend my first session, unsure of what I want to get out of it, except that I know that I’ve just been treading water for the past year and I’d like to start feeling that I’m making some progress.
Anyone got any uplifting stories about how great the experience would be or top tips on how to get the most out of it?
In other news, Teacher A gets a Pass and a Could Do Better comment on her communications skills. After Teacher B told me (not in front of him) on Friday that she’d make sure he knew what the Ed Psych visit entailed, Teacher A told me (in front of him) on Mon after school that they couldn’t tell me what it entailed as they didn’t know and suggested that I ring the Ed Psych myself and find out. The visit was the next day. We don’t get home until 4pm, so that doesn’t leave very much chance to contact someone, plus such phonecalls are best made without two tired hungry kids around that struggle to let me do tasks uninterrupted at the best of times. So I settled for telling him that we knew that she was coming, but didn’t know if she would talk to him or just watch the class (he actually copes with this kind of uncertainty well, at least he does unless he doesn’t).
For the record, I’m fine that the teacher didn’t know what form the visit would take – I know she’s only human. I guess Teacher B left a message for the SENCO (who only works Mon – Wed) and she picked it up Monday and fed back to Teacher A that she didn’t know who then told me. The could do better bit is that I had specifically asked not to be told in front of him, a note in his book bag would have worked. Or she could have included him in the conversation. Or better still, just told him herself that they don’t know during school time. What I am is frustrated at the system, that doesn’t seem able to cope with the fact that some children have a need to know what is going on (this is fairly common with kids on the Autistic spectrum, he’s got it mild as far as I can tell).
And on the day? He was pleased to tell us after school that he’d met the Ed Psych and a little bit about what they’d been doing. Next step on that one, wait for her report. I have yet to deal with the infamous records that we’ve not seen and I’m trying not to think about how best to feed back that the schools system for communicated about special needs stuff with parents
is shit has definite room for improvement (I’m attempting to tread the fine line between waiting until I’m calm enough to not rant and look like an idiot, but still being bothered enough to do it).