In my entire life so far, I have never needed any kind of official therapy. Never been through anything traumatic enough.
Actually, I am lying, I had a small bout of CBT after a break-up. Back then, in 2011 (or was it 2012?) I thought my whole world had fallen apart, mainly because said charming man had decided to make me look like an absolute psycho bunny boiler when, in fact, I was the sane one. I don’t know why, I don’t know what I did to him. Perhaps he needed an ego boost and used me to step on, I was an easy target. Needless to say, I was back to normal after a few weeks, and I eventually forgave him for his lies and general sociopathic behaviour. Forgiveness is a very powerful feeling.
Anyway so, like I said, apart from that little hiccup, I never needed any kind of ‘fixing’.
Until now. In January 2016 my entire world, which I had thought could not possibly get any better hit an absolute peak. I could have literally burst with happiness. Funny how that can change so drastically after three little words isn’t it. Three little words can obliterate your future.
“I’m so sorry”
In my twenties, I always joked about having an ‘Oh fuck’ backpack. You know, for the zombie apocalypse. It would contain everything I would need during such a traumatic event. Mainly alcohol, fags, maybe a Grazia mag. Maybe even a bottle of water, and ball of string and a notepad and pencil like they made us carry around in our Brownies purse.
Fast forward to February 2016 and I cannot think of one thing that would have got me through those first couple of weeks, nothing tangible anyway. My ‘Oh fuck backpack’ would maybe have been useful as a pillow to sob into, but that’s about it. The only thing that stopped me from wanting to never wake up again were my humans and my pet cat. But being my human or my pet cat can be a rough old slog, especially when you are the human that needs to grieve too.
I started to seek counselling. My first stop was my medical insurance, I was entitled to 6-8 sessions per year. I found a lovely lady who saw me in her own house, in a back room. She sat at one end and I sat at another. She didn’t say anything, just let me talk. There is only so much talking one can do before you just end up sitting twiddling your thumbs, and waiting for that hour to tick by. It was nice for a session or two but then became a bit of a chore.
My second stop was my GP which, if you’ve read my previous blogs, you will know hit me like a tonne of bricks. “Go and Google for help” he said. “it was only a ball of cells”.
My third stop was a different GP. This one listened. She was awesome. She put me in touch with the IAPT team and I was placed with a Psychiatric Nurse. The Nurse let me talk, but also applied CBT to my sessions. This was okay, in some respects, but wasn’t really useful for my ultimate needs. The CBT certainly helped me to deal with unwanted opinions and comments and gave me some useful coping strategies when faced with such issues. But I still needed more, something else.
My fourth stop in 2017 was my medical insurance again. I was due my next lot of sessions. This time I was sent to a building near my office. The Leadenhall building – great views of London by the way. That was about the only good thing about those appointments. After a few sessions of talking, and desperately reaching out for help, hoping for a miracle, I was advised to have another child then discharged. There was nothing more she could do for me. Bearing in mind my issue was my need to overcome my desire for a rainbow baby after our losses, this was not an ideal solution. I was still a broken mess.
More time went by and I still didn’t feel like I was moving forward. The sight of other pregnancies and newborns was making me feel physically sick and my anxieties, while in certain situations, were getting worse so I contacted SANDS – Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity – I was reluctant to get involved with them before as I felt like a fraud compared to parents who had lost babies so much further down the line. I couldn’t have been more wrong, I was welcomed with open arms and told that my baby was my baby and my grief was just as valid as the next person. They put me in touch with a charity called Cruse who specialise specifically in bereavement.
My fifth stop. I spoke to someone over the phone who assessed my needs and said I’d get a call within three weeks to find out if Cruse would be helpful to me. In two weeks I was contacted by a lovely lady who came to my house. This was last week, she assessed me and agreed I needed bereavement therapy.
That same evening I drove to Tunbridge Wells to my first SANDS meeting. For the first time since we lost our little girl, I felt like I belonged. I was a part of a group that no one wanted to be in but, at the same time, were all pleased to be in. We had all experienced the same, but different. We all ‘got’ eachother. It was a safe space. No one was going to judge me, or shout at me. The two hours I was there went by in a blink of an eye and I came out feeling a tiny bit brighter.
I had my first proper bereavement therapy session today and I feel like I have found ‘The one’. She seems to get me. She has picked up on things I never really gave much thought to, like my experience in hospital when I delivered Emily. I mean, I know it bothered me, a lot. But I assumed I was being sensitive and there was nothing more they could have done. However, after recounting my experience, my therapist was horrified by my treatment. “The system has failed you”. She really got into my head, like she could read the closed book inside. A book I haven’t even begun to open yet…
This feeling may not last, but I am going to embrace it while I can. I’m starting to find myself again after being lost, alone, confused, bereft, and disregarded for 20 months. I have been warned it will get worse before it gets better, but I can just about see a very very tiny glimpse of light at the end of this horrible long and dark tunnel. It may not be baby shaped, which breaks me at the moment, but it is a light all the same.
I just need to discover what it will be.