*Backdated post from 8th July (14.5 weeks pregnant)*
So as mentioned in my last post, I have been diagnosed with Antenatal depression. The midwife I spoke to in EPU (Early Pregnancy Unit) was fantastic and managed to sort me with counselling literally days after I was diagnosed.
To say I was sceptical about starting the appointments is a HUGE understatement. I have never got on with the whole counselling process. All the affirmations of learning to love yourself, respect yourself, look in a mirror and list 5 things you appreciate about yourself malarky from complete strangers that know nothing about you has always made me want to puke. I don’t mean to cause offence for those it has worked for, but I guess I am just a hard nosed bitch, not good with the “nicey nicey”, “softly softly” approach. Personally, I have always been more comfortable with tough love, bluntness and brutal honesty.
(Image by www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk)
I was overjoyed when the midwife at MAU asked me what sort of chatting approach I would relate best to. I am grateful she gave me this choice, as had I spoken with someone else, I don’t think I would have come as far as I have. I would have got frustrated half way through my first session and knowing me, probably walked out (like I have in the past).
The day of my first appointment was here before I knew it. I promised Prawn and my parentals I would stay open minded and not disregard the help until I had completed at least two sessions. I got to St Heliers early and my mood instantly darkened, why was I here?! This was going to be a waste of time like it always had been in the past. I started to get a tad frustrated when 10 minutes after the start of my session, my counsellor still hadn’t shown. I know this was wrong, seeing how the sessions were being offered to me free via the NHS, but as a say, I was unfortunately coming into this with a pretty negative state of mind. The slightest problem that came up, my brain was willing to make into a big issue.
My counsellor, lets call her Mrs X, arrived looking pretty over it and took me into a small room. She offered no niceties, no apology… but bizarrely, rather then annoy me, this got me interested. I guess I’m strange, but quite like the fact she wasn’t instantly coming across as my best friend and instead was practically ignoring me. We sat down and she huffed and puffed about what a bad day she was having, before looking me squarely in the eye and asking to explain why I was there. I found it odd she had no notes and hadn’t been briefed, but hey, what did I have to loose… I decided to roll with it.
I loosely filled her in on the situation and she just sat staring at me. It was hard speaking about something so personal and pouring your heart to someone not overly responsive. But bizarrely, this again kept me interested. Mrs X asked why I was stressing about something that was out of my control. I looked at her like she had lost the plot and started to feel quite angry. What did she know and how dare she make my issues sound so blasé and laughable. I may have got a bit attitudey at this point and behind angry tears, explained that after trying this long for a baby I was petrified of suddenly loosing them. I was scared of having my heart break in a way I had never experienced before. I explained that I had been told the chances of miscarriage were high and I didn’t know how to deal with that. I was almost hysterical as I said that this baby is all I have wanted my entire life, since I was a little girl and my baby sister came home from the hospital. I could hear my voice getting higher and more wobbly as the anger and hurt poured out of me, but again, Mrs X just sat there looking at me. I got my tissues out my bag (I came prepared as thought I may get a bit snotty and that teamed with running mascara is never a good look) and tried to regain a bit of dignity.
(Image by www.stokecoll.ac.uk)
I looked up at Mrs X sitting there, still so silent… “Talk woman!!” I screamed in my head, “You’re supposed to be helping me!”. But no, she just carried on staring at me. I think I may have actually said “Well…?!?” as at this point I was getting very frustrated, but again… she was still holding my attention.
Mrs X wrote some stuff down, met my probably quite scathing gaze, and simply came out with one line. This line froze me to my core but bizarrely started the cogs in my dark, cotton wooled brain turning. “You do realise stressing won’t stop you having a miscarriage”.
I sat there baffled by the bluntness of how she had phrased that sentence, but I knew it was true. She went on to say that “Stressing would also not prepare me for the possible event of having a miscarriage”.
I wasn’t sure what to say, what can you say to something like that? I mentioned I was aware that stressing and over analysing the situation wouldn’t prepare me as such, but if I didn’t allow myself to truly believe I was pregnant, I couldn’t get too carried away with it all and be disappointed if/when it went wrong.
At this point she softened and the dynamic between us changed massively.
She slowly put her notepad down and said that I wasn’t going to want to hear what she was about to say, but it was the honest truth and she would not be doing her job unless she said it how it was… again I respected this. I didn’t want “There theres”, I wanted a new perspective so I could change my mindset for our little Planky.
Mrs X softly told me that no matter how much I tried to “prepare” myself for the worst, the process would be pointless. She said “No amount of preparation can even allow you to slightly comprehend how empty, hurt, raw and angry you feel when you miscarry”. She asked me “If you were to miscarry tomorrow, how would you feel?” I was shocked by this, but said I would feel exactly like she said, sad, empty, very angry and extremely bitter. I said I would probably hate myself and my body for the rest of my life for destroying the little life I longed for all this time (by this point I had started crying again, not angry tears, but just exhausted, drained tears). She looked at me and said, “Thats not even close to how you’d feel”.
(Image by www.solarislifetherapy.com)
I thought about this for a while and though initially her comments had frustrated me, I started to really respect the way she was being so brutal with me… I actually started to feel a tad naive and selfish. Man what a turn around.
What she was saying is true. So what if I did miscarry tomorrow?! Of course I would never be able to prepare myself for that, who was I trying to kid? Currently I was having a few glitches with my pregnancy, but compared to some ladies who’s problems had gone undetected, I was in a good position. I was being monitored, I had great staff supporting me and I was in the best possible hands for this to happen for me… theres no reason why I couldn’t be a mum with all the support I was receiving.
Mrs X said the depression and anxiety could actually cause harm to Planky, so indirectly, from another angle I could look at it that I was being a little selfish and the one causing potential problems for them. She said through stressing, I would only have myself to blame for more things going wrong with the pregnancy. Again, this was a tad blunt, but massively triggered something in my mind that made me want to change for the sake of the little life inside me.
The session came to the end, and I was happy to note it had run over 10 minutes to make up for the delay in starting. I was given homework which though bizarre scared the bejeezes out of me… I had to meet with my mum for a coffee out in public. It sounds so trivial, but the concept of what I had to do, physically made me shake. I called up mum as soon as I got home and put a date in the diary, she was so proud of me, as was prawn, it was the first step I needed. I decided at that moment that I would give this counselling my best shot. I would go back next week, having gone out with my mum as per my homework and do all I can to try and fix myself.
It would take baby steps, but this woman, Mrs X, bizarrely had my respect. She wouldn’t be everyones cup of tea, but I like the fact she sugar coated nothing, made no pointless small talk and didn’t faff about before hitting the nail on the head. Though a tad unorthodox, her approach worked for me.
Here’s to not having a panic attack when out in Costa with mum, and to next weeks session. In a perverse way I’m quite looking forward to seeing what else Mrs X is going to throw at me…
All my Love