Category Archives: Counselling

Results and Therapy

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Thursday 16th July

Preparing to go out this morning I am interrupted by a phone call from my dermatology nurse. She has the results of the lesion excision on my arm, two weeks ago. And the offending alien blob is called a dysplastic naevus. Sounds quite weird, like a synthetic cloud formation. But no, it’s an unusual, benign mole, that looks like melanoma, and you can’t tell if it’s dangerous or not, until it’s sent to the pathology lab. Therefore it must be surgically removed.

So, I’m left with a small scar, and a bit of an indent in my upper arm, but a huge sense of relief, dispelling the anxiety I’ve had for the last fortnight. Melanoma does that to you, the knowledge that it could come back, one day, sneakily, when you’re not expecting it. So, vigilance is the key, combined with regular check-ups. And maybe a few precautionary scars along the way.

This afternoon was #4 of my Cognitive Behaviour Therapy course. The topics covered today were Panic Attacks and Sleep Problems. Woo hoo.

Although I have never had a panic attack, I can relate to some of the typical actions and physical symptoms: foot tapping, sighing, palpitations, sweating, nausea, hot flushes, choking sensations, faintness, upset stomach.

Much of this could be the result of the imbalance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in my body, due to poor breathing and stress. Time to sort out the deep relaxation techniques and diaphragmatic breathing, methinks.

I do, however, have a problem getting to sleep, and then staying asleep. To much to think about, worry about, stress about. I’m restless, tossing, turning, clock watching, can’t switch off. And then I get cross because I cannot fall asleep, and that just makes it worse.

I do try some deep breathing techniques, drink decaffeinated tea, try to walk a reasonable amount every day, no big meals before bedtime, no phone or television in the bedroom, blackout curtains, window slightly open, and sleeping pills.

But the elusive good night’s sleep is eluding me at the moment. My thoughts always return to my son. He is everywhere around me and within me. It’s Thursday again, so it’s eighteen weeks, or one hundred and twenty six days since he gained his angel wings. And we still cry at his graveside.

Thinking of you.
Missing you.
Loving you always.
Forever young.
Darling child xx

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Cognitive behaviour therapy #3

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Thursday 9th July

Having missed Session 2 last week due to having minor surgery to remove a mole from my arm, I’m all ready for this next instalment of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: managing your actions.

So, what did we learn today, hey?
Stressed people think more anxiously about their life.
Stressed people avoid difficult situations, and may use safety behaviours as a way of coping.
Depressed people tend to withdraw from normal activities.
Stressed people tend to be on the lookout for threats.
Depressed people can feel isolated and lack confidence.

Okey dokey, I think I know all that to be true. So, what’s to do about it?

1. Work out exactly what the problem is. Take on the problems one at a time. Break down each problem into smaller chunks. Putting this into practice will mean a greater sense of control.

2. Facing the fear can test the reality of your feelings. Think about “What is the worst thing that can happen?” Brainstorm as many options or outcomes as possible, then weigh up the pros and cons. Work out a step by step plan, put it into action, then review the outcome.

3. Removing safety behaviours to confront fears. Some feel they need something to protect against threats or that which cannot be controlled. Working out what these are, or the ‘props’ that are used, is the first step. (Having ready-made excuses, medication in one’s pocket, having a drink before going out).
Thinking about how these safety behaviours help or hinder, predict what would happen if they were not used.
Again, work out a step by step plan, put it into action and then review the situation. Start to remove as many safety behaviours as possible.

Well, I’m not sure how much of that applies to me, a lot of it was common sense.

And then we moved on to 20 Tips for Coping with Stress: things to consider
1. Deal with problems on the spot.
2. Nurture strong, confiding relationships.
3. Slow down.
4. Break problems up.
5. Avoid Must’s and Should’s.
6. Coping with ruts.
7. Take one thing at a time.
8. Look and sound relaxed.
9. Learn from past experience.
10. Don’t accept other people’s targets.
11. Healthy eating.
12. Stop smoking.
13. Situations outside your control.
14. Build relaxation into your life.
15. Prioritise.
16. Do the worst thing first.
17. Don’t try to be Superman or Wonderwoman.
18. Confide in others.
19. Other people’s shoes.
20. Keep up a routine.

So there we have it, in a nutshell.
Much to think about, lots I already put into practice.
But it’s not going to lift me out of this depressive hole I find myself in at present. That will take time, an awful lot of time. There is no predetermined exit point to actually stepping out into the light at the end of the tunnel. It will happen at some time, and I know I have to believe in that, otherwise what is the point? I do know I won’t feel like this forever. My depression is the result of the enormous grief I feel over the unexpected loss of my son. I’m allowed to feel like this, for the moment. But not always. I’ve got to tell myself that it will get better.

Thinking of you, my sweetest Angel in heaven xxxx

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

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Thursday 25th June

Instead of sailing across the sparkling, blue ocean, aboard my father’s yacht, I’m floundering in the sea, with the surf breaking over my head, and all I can see are bigger waves on the horizon. What I once had and enjoyed, has now sunk without a trace. Well, that’s what it feels like to me.

Maybe I’m a bit cynical, or I just know what the problem is, but today’s hour and a half course on Stress, left me, well, stressed.

Today I attended the first of four sessions, entitled The Stress Less Course.

I know all the stressful feelings I experience: numbness, guilt, low mood, jealousy, discomfort, insecurity, futility, hopelessness, upset, flat, tearful.

I know the stressful thoughts I experience: worry, cut-off from others, poor concentration, hard to relax, loss of interest, no get up and go.

I know that stress has affected my actions: avoidance of doing things or going places, withdrawal, avoidance of responsibility, eating less.

I know how stress has affected my body: tension, drained, headaches, tiredness, shallow breathing, stomach pains, insomnia,

I know what has caused my stress, that leads then to depression.

My own health has led me to deal with huge changes in my life recently. That I have Stage 3 malignant melanoma is something I think I have accepted since being diagnosed in 2013.

My father passed away in 2009 from Pancreatic Cancer.

My mother is in a Care Home as she has the beginnings of dementia.

My elder son passed away fifteen weeks ago today, diagnosed with Testicular Cancer, having undergone 99 days out of 100 days of chemotherapy treatment.

Oh, and I’ve been signed off work since the day my son died.

So my stress is caused by depression, life problems, anxiety, sleep problems, health problems.

I suppose this afternoon’s session was introductory, and necessitated going through all aspects of stress, anxiety and depression. But I did find it stressful, in that I had to think about what it was that created the stress, and what I should or shouldn’t do about it.

And yes, I know there are coping mechanisms, and things I should be doing to help myself, gently along the way.

I take anti-anxiety medication and sleeping tablets. I don’t smoke, nor do I drink alcohol, but I do like my cappuccinos. I try to exercise by going on a daily walk to increase my normal heart rate. Our diets are improved, and include much fruit, vegetables, fish and chicken. And I find writing about my feelings in this blog, quite therapeutic. I’m also trying to raise awareness and money for a testicular cancer charity, in memory of our son. I also have a goal to focus upon, and that is to climb Mount Snowdon in August.

What I also need to do is learn relaxation techniques, and diaphragmatic deep breathing.

I know I won’t be able to change what has happened, but I would like to feel better about myself, to have my once positive attitude back.

The biggest cause of my feelings of depression is, of course, the death of my son. My grief is, and has been, all-consuming. I don’t think I’ll ever come to terms with it. Our lives have been changed forever. The future that we thought we were headed towards has now disappeared, and we don’t know what path to take.

Maybe this group therapy to come to terms with stress, anxiety and depression will be of use to me.
But it won’t bring my son back.
It won’t change the past.

But I need to be able to swim again, without feeling I’m drowning, being able to hold my head above the waves, and reaching the shore without a struggle. The waves will always continue to break, the tides will rise and fall, I know I can’t stop the inevitable, but I’d like to be able to go with the flow, and enjoy the current as it takes me to somewhere better than where I’m stranded at the moment.

As always, thinking of you, my dearest sweet Angel xxxxx

I really miss you

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Tuesday 19th May

Today I had a follow-up telephone call concerning grief counselling.
It has been decided that I will attend a four week, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy course, called Stressless.
It is a talking therapy, that tries to help you change the way you think and behave, to treat your depression and anxiety.
I don’t know if it will help me, but at the moment I’ll give anything a go.

All I know is…

I
Just
Miss
You
So
Very
Much.

Everything would be fine if you were back here, living your life, carrying on as normal, and we were taking care of you.
But now, our lives will never, ever be the same again.

Sweetheart.
You certainly made our lives so enjoyable, and right now, we just don’t know how to adapt to your not being here with us.

Love you.
Missing you.
Thinking of you all the time.

xxx

We spoke of you

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Tuesday 12th May

This morning I had a one hour, introductory, grief-counselling telephone call. It was an exceptionally draining experience. We spoke of you, your life, your travels, your problems, your struggles, and the joy you brought. I also had to speak of your passing, how I was feeling and answer a range of questions. I am moderately to severely anxious and depressed. Think I knew that, but a base line assessment was needed, with a follow-up call in a week’s time to discuss ways forward.

Next, we speak of you at length with your old primary school teacher on our afternoon walk around the town. Reminiscing about a simpler life nearly twenty years ago.

I talk about you with another lady whose husband is also going through chemotherapy, but was diagnosed too late, and has been given two years. This lady was very understanding of my feelings, but quite distraught for herself. We had a connection through our circumstances, and spoke for over half an hour; we had an empathy with one another, that would not normally have led to such a long conversation.

We spoke about you with a café owner, who remembers your love of the multi-layered rainbow cake that you tried not so long ago. Much was left unspoken, but long, embracing hugs conveyed so much.

Ordering a coffee to sit beside the beach, we chatted with the owner of the surf school. He remembers you, walking across the beach, or sitting on the wall above the lifeguard’s hut: people watching, looking out to sea, smiling, lost in thought. When he’d told us this, and had walked away, we both sobbed into our coffee cups. Someone to whom we hadn’t ever spoken knew you, and had a small insight into your everyday comings and goings. It was lovely he shared that memory with us, but had unknowingly made us so sad.

Our final trip of the day was to drive out to see you and speak with you. We cried a lot at your graveside, having had so many instances where you popped into our thoughts, conversations and memories.

This is hard. I know no-one said it would be easy, but we have so much love for you, missing you is just heart-breaking for us.

Lovely boy. x

Counselling session #2

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Monday 28th October

Well, here we are again, one week on, is there anything else to talk about?

Actually, yes. Having been given the date for my upcoming surgery, I am both relieved and yet apprehensive. Scared stiff more like. Two weeks today we shall be staying overnight in an hotel, ready to go to the hospital at 7:30am the next morning.

Two weeks of waiting, and then the operation. My head is filled with all sorts of “What ifs?” Hard to explain, but the dark thoughts are there, nonetheless.

So, what am I doing about this state of mind? Trying to stay positive as much as possible; getting lots of fresh air; eating fruit and vegetables; working through some breathing and meditation exercises; taking cinnamon, turmeric, resveratrol and lycopene supplements;  cooking with organic, virgin coconut oil; and a teaspoon of Manuka honey every morning.

I’m hoping all these little things add up to a lot; enough to make a significant difference. I don’t want to be classed as having mild to moderate depression and anxiety. I have to do something about it. I’m not going to get on that downward spiral. I want to live my life.