Tuesday, 16 February 2016

No Pulling The Wool

As part of my rehabilitation back into the world of clinical work I'm having some therapy.  My employer has a contract with a counselling service that offers it for free.  I'm going to be really upfront and honest here. For the most part I only signed up to demonstrate to my managers that I'm doing everything I can to get back on track.  Dotting I's and crossing T's as it were. After all I am a therapist myself.   Don't I know it all already?!!!

So I was given a telephone appointment.  Before I made the call I decided that I'd ask to work on goals around maintaining a better  work-life balance.  It's something that I'm capable of doing by myself but I reckoned that two heads might be better than one.  Surely I could get away with skirting over some of the difficult things that have been going on over the last few months.  After all even though I've been responsible for dealing with the aftermath of recent metaphorical train crashes it wasn't as if I was the driver.

The session didn't go to plan.  My attempt to make light of what's been happening wasn't washing. Thank goodness my therapist wasn't having any wool pulled over their eyes. Oh no!  Consequently I've recognised the need to acknowledge the impact of recent trauma  and work out how to recover from its after effects. It's quite a tricky process.  I was left exhausted after yesterday's therapy sessions.  My other plans for the day had to be put on hold but so it must be.

Professionally I'm right at the coal face when it comes to tragedy.  Once I gave an acquaintance who was a counsellor an overview of a typical case that I worked on.  'Oh!' they replied.  'That's really complex. I think you ought to refer that on'.  What they'd failed to appreciate was that the service that I work in is at the end of the line.  We are the people who are the recipients of the most tricky cases.

It's just dawned on me that because my exposure to suffering is so frequent I underplay my own struggles and as such underestimate the toll they exert.   For they seem inconsequential compared to so much of what I regularly see. Yet their cumulative effect is substantial.

I'm sharing this, not as an act of self-indulgence, but to speak to those in similar shoes.   There's got to be a few of you out there in the same boat in our overstretched systems. Jobs like the ones in health and social care, and the other emergency services do not come with a cloak of invincibility.    If enough is thrown at us, whether it be personally or professionally, we break like anyone else.  I'm thanking my lucky stars that I recognised this as an early stage.  A little bit later and repair would have been so much more difficult.


  1. It's hard to diagnose yourself, and especially to catch it early! So well done for that, and for acting on it.

  2. Please take all the help you can get. Sounds like you are lucky to get a therapist who did not allow you to pull the wool over their eyes.

  3. I am so glad to hear you're receiving the help and support you need right now. Thank god for the NHS!

  4. I am very glad that you are getting help, and have such a great therapist.
    Although I have been in (vaguely) similar circumstances, not in professional healthcare but in personal situations, of helping one and all with physical and emotional health problems, when my own emotional collapse came there was no-one to help, as there wasn't a 'Me' to help me as I had helped others (some of which were oblivious to my fall). So, after some downtime (3 1/2 yrs), during which I was still helping others I started to help me. It's still a work in progress as the counselling offered at that time did not help except to tell me that I had taken on others burdens. It was telephone counselling which I couldn't do properly due to trust issues (had to take the calls in supermarket car parks, not fun). I blogged for a while, writing Everything down. I may have to delete the posts now, but at the time it helped me sleep.
    Anyway, I have rambled, which is rude, but having read your blog daily for a loonnng time I truly hope you will be feeling better by and by.
    Susan x
    PS our local hospital is the medway maritime, yeh, that one. Our mental health care is almost non existent, as the wards are shut now. The wards that saved my son's life when he had suicidal ideation.

    1. Thanks for sharing. Mine is phone counselling and I'm always making sure that I'm at home to take the calls. It's working well. She's lovely. I think mental health resourcing seems to be in a dire state wherever you look. x

  5. Good to hear that you have found a great therapist. Over the years I have had different therapists some were good others less so. Keep taking care of yourself and I send you all my good wishes.,

  6. Obviously you experience so much in your workload that you have become overwhelmed; which has stopped you from dealing with your own issues which now need to be your priority. I've never had to travel your path, but I'm both cared for and joint carer of our son.

    I'm presuming that you'd have no limit to the counselling sessions you could have as it is work related? I say that as I know - from others - that through a GP only six sessions are allowed. Weird or what! Someone might find it helpful by 5 or 6 - and then it is cut off.

    As a renal patient I can have unlimited counselling sessions through the department. But time factors and travelling don't really make that an option. I did go a couple of times a few years back but I found it incredibly unhelpful. I just had to speak and then was answered with things like 'what do you think you should do?" And "how does that make you feel?" Which, frankly, was b****y unhelpful! You said that your therapy was exhausting - I would just feel even more of a failure for finding it hard to cope in really difficult physical and mental circumstances; without one single thing being suggested.

    Last year I even emailed the Samaritans - but I think they must have been taught from the same hymn sheet!

    It seems like mental health care - whatever form it takes - seems to vary so much from area to area.

    Many years ago I worked in a hospital - clerically - but if anyone also had separate psychiatric notes (and they could have been seeing a psychiatrist for depression regarding multiple family deaths for example) the medical doctors always took their physical ailments with a pinch of salt (I had to read what they wrote) I saw many harsh things written down that patients never knew about. Hopefully things have improved.

    I have had several friends who have seen psychiatrists (not counsellors) and they all agreed that the best thing they got out of it was the realisation that they would never see another and that, if necessary, they would travel down another route.

    You were right to agree to seeing a therapist - you could have avoided it, but obviously you are sensible enough to know what is right for you at this moment in time. Sorry, I've diverted a bit off track as I realise it would have been more helpful for you to get a comment from someone else in a professional caring role. I wish you all the best.

    1. I think I am limited as far as free counselling sessions go but may pay for more if I need further sessions after my first six if it is still worthwhile. As far as psychiatrists go I've worked with some lovely ones in my time. It's a shame that the experience of you and your friends hasn't brought them down that path. I hope that the experience of being treated differently because someone has a mental health record is changing. It's one in four of us. My sharing is part of an agenda to normalise these illnesses. x

  7. Sounds as if the tough session was much needed. I hope it continues to help and that you are able to start rebuilding your resilience :)

  8. Lovelygrey *big hug* my lovely. You sure know yourself well to have caught it in time. I have no words of wisdom as I blindly bumble along through the dark most of the time.

    At some point. I need to treat you to an ice cream whilst we admire the Golden Hind Museum and defend each other from the seagulls.

    Sol xxx

    1. I'm up for that - a lime and chilli one from i-scream. Mmmm! xx

  9. Thanks for all kind words. They are much appreciated! xx