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- A Saturday morning in September ...
***Trigger warning - this blog touches on suicide*** Here we are, in early September in the UK. It's a lovely day, with that gentle autumnal sunshine which is comfortable to be in. I'm having a nice cup of tea and thinking about the day ahead. And then I notice the date, and my train of thought takes a very different turn... It's September 10th which is World Suicide Prevention Day, so there are lots of posts on social media about suicide, as well as support and prevention, and groups to contact if you or someone you care about is struggling. Although it's sad to see this, it's also encouraging that nowadays there is support and signposting for people who are feeling suicidal as well as those left behind when someone completes the act of suicide. (Sadly, those left behind are often left with poor mental health, depression and a higher risk of suicide themselves). I'm going to say a little about my first experience of the impact of suicide, as a young child of 8. There is more to say another time, but for now I wanted to share this. So, on another Saturday morning in September, many years ago, I was still cosy in bed, drinking tea (my Dad always brought us up a cup of tea and a biscuit in the morning) and reading a book. (Yes, I know exactly which book) Mum and Dad would be going to work a bit later, and my younger brother and I would go to my grandparents for the morning whilst they were at work. The phone rang in the hall downstairs (we only had the one land line back in the day) and my mum answered. The next few sentences are still clear in my memory today - she was answering my Gran who had called , and without going into details, she was being told by my Gran that my dearly loved Granddad had ended his life. I remember my brother and I were taken to my other Grandparents which was still local and a good place to go. I have some memories of that Grandmother having whispered conversations in the church (I think they were decorating it for the Harvest Festival).She was obviously telling the other people something about what had happened, but no-one was speaking to us about it. Over the weeks and months ahead, no one really talked to us about what had happened and there wasn't the awareness or encouragement to talk about these things. There wasn't a school counsellor or Pastoral support worker for example. Being the oldest Grandchild by several years, I didn't have cousins to speak to about this either, and my brother was younger too. No one thought or considered that talking about this would be a helpful thing to do - that would have probably been considered the wrong thing to do, and my parents may well have been wary of upsetting us. I definitely didn't want to talk about it at the time - well not to anyone else. For sometime I would go to my Granddad's grave and 'talk' to him. At that time, there was quite a bit of secrecy and shame about suicide and mental health too. It just wasn't something that was talked about or understood well, (Suicide wasn't even decriminalised until 1961 in England and Wales) Looking back, I am able to see how my reactions and responses to hearing about my Grandad's suicide impacted on a lot of things that happened afterwards - but more of that another time. It wasn't until I began my counselling training many years later - now in my 40s - that I knew I had to face my long buried pain. It would be irresponsible and dangerous to have conversations with clients about a subject which I was unable to articulate at any level. I know that part of the reason I didn't train to be a counsellor sooner was because I knew I would have to talk about 'my stuff' as part of it, and I was far from comfortable about that. Those conversations were painful, but ultimately helpful. Instead of freezing or recoiling I could talk about what happened, and unpick some of the threads of secrecy and shame. It's just as well I did really, because my very first client brought their experience of suicide to our first ever session. Understandably, people don't like talking about suicide. If we think someone we care about is feeling suicidal, a lot of people worry that if they mention it, the person will then end their life. (Please don't worry that by asking any of those questions , you are going to 'encourage' or 'give someone the idea' about ending their life by suicide - you really won't). Likewise, if we know someone who has lost someone because of suicide, we are worried about upsetting them or re-traumatising them. Again, this isn't the case. The theme of World Suicide Prevention Day this year is about Creating Hope through Action. I'll include some links and resources below, but the main message I hope I'm sharing is that it is ALWAYS better to talk about these things, no matter what age people are, or when the feelings or event happened. Have a look through some of the info - it doesn't have to be anything big or dramatic - but just a gentle 'So, how are you doing?' and then really giving the person some time to reply can make a world of difference and enable you to be that light, that beacon of hope, to someone who might be in the darkest place. https://www.iasp.info/wspd/ https://www.papyrus-uk.org/world-suicide-prevention-day/ https://www.samaritans.org/support-us/campaign/world-suicide-prevention-day/ https://mentalhealth-uk.org/get-involved/mental-health-awareness-days/world-suicide-prevention-day/ #WorldSuicidePreventionDay #WSPD #WSPD22 #
- Do you know who the Prime Minister is?
As I write this, on July 7th 2022, the current Prime Minister has resigned. It's a bit debatable when he is actually leaving, but he is going... I met a friend for coffee earlier this morning, and at that point the story hadn't broken, but there were a stream of ministers resigning. They said on the news 'By the time you have put the kettle on and made a cup of tea, another one has sent a resignation letter...' As we sat down to our drinks (Earl Grey tea for me, a Latte for her) I started to update her about some health issues I was experiencing. If you watch any hospital programmes, you may see sometimes that the medics assess someone's mental state by asking various questions - 'Do you know where you are?'for example. If someone is concussed, they might forget where they are and need to be reminded. I made a jokey comment to my friend about how I'd been having some memory issues, but at least I knew who the Prime Minister is. I went on to say 'Although today, that might not be the best day to ask someone that question...' I did get asked that question about a year ago and I'm pleased to say I got the answer right:). However, I want to share a bit more about why I got asked that question, and some of the roles and work I'm going to be doing going forward, As many of you will know, I do have some chronic health issues. During one of the Lockdowns, I'd got in touch with my GP because I'd noticed some cognitive changes. Long story short, after a few other appointments with different people and an MRI, I found myself at the 'Memory Clinic'. I then went through various tests and questions with a Clinical Neuropsychologist. She asked me various 'magic questions' (they have to be kept secret) but also asked me the question about the Prime Minister too. After the appointment, I went and found my partner (he'd almost melted in the car, I'd been in there almost 2 hours) and waited for results. A few weeks later, I received a letter with results. I've been diagnosed with something called Mild Cognitive Impairment, and other things are currently being explored. It can be a precursor for Dementia (not always though). This has led to me pausing my practice for the moment to give myself some time to think and reflect. I'm thinking about other work and roles that I might be able to do. I'm probably going to be writing more of these, and writing other stuff too. I've also taken on a role in the South West as a Join Dementia Research Champion. I've always been interested in research and have taken part in various studies and trials as a patient - for me, it's about bringing something positive out of a negative situation. And I know the more we learn, the more we can improve things for future generations. We have an increasingly aging population in the UK, and some of those people will sadly go on to develop Dementia. Researchers know that the more we find out about this disease, the sooner we can offer treatments and hope. Often people are diagnosed too late, but researchers are learning more about spotting signs and indicators earlier. So, one of my roles is about encouraging people to sign up for research (and it really isn't all about needles and white coats). So, if you're interested, I'm including the link below. https://www.joindementiaresearch.nihr.ac.uk/home In the meantime, I think it's time for me to pop the kettle on and make a brew. I'd best check out who is the Prime Minister again too :) #JoinDementiaResearch
- On Mothering Sunday...mothering/smothering...what the heck is it all about anyway?
If you're in the UK, this year Mothering Sunday falls on 27th March. Mothering Sunday has different origins than Mother's Day (which is celebrated in the USA) and is a much older tradition. The original Christian Festival was about remembering Mary, the mother of Jesus,(scope for a whole feminist theology blog there) and the 'Mother Church'. It's always on the 4th Sunday in Lent, and became a day when servants would be given a day off to go back to their mother church, which generally involved a visit to their mothers too. So, the origins aren't really anything to do about mothers or mums, but the focus has changed over the years so that it is often about celebrating our mothers. Okay - this doesn't mean that we have to celebrate, or do anything in particular. There are all kinds of reasons why some people will not want to mark this day. Their own mum may have passed away, or their own child. They may have a complicated relationship with their mum or children. If we are adopted, or bringing up step-children or unable to have children, that brings additional grief and challenges. If we were unable to bring our children home, or never met them - that again is tragic too. There are many more reasons and circumstances why mother's day can be difficult. It's okay not to mark it, it's okay to feel ambivalent or sad. I think for me. some of my musings are about quite what are we celebrating? And why? Have we fallen for a rose-tinted image of our mum as the perfect mother? Do we see ourselves as perfect mums? Or aspire to be one? There's often quite a mismatch between the fantasy and reality. Before I had my first child , I thought I'd spend at least some of my maternity leave crafting some precious baby items, and once they were born, walk around serenely with them in their baby sling...(I failed to make one baby item , let alone the range I had contemplated ) Over the years, through hearing the experience of others as well as my own, I think it's fair to say that pretty much all of us are far from perfect - being a 'good enough' mum is really good enough. And there isn't an ultimate blueprint for how to be the good enough mum - everyone is different. Everyone will parent differently, and make different choices as we are all parenting different children. It's good to share our experiences and things that are helpful, but we don't need to be prescriptive. Typically, mother's day can focus a lot on what our mothers do for us. Now there's certainly nothing wrong in that - it's good to appreciate our loved ones - ideally more than once a year though :). But I think it's important not just to focus on what our mums do for us, but the person they actually are - mums are humans too :) They certainly aren't perfect, or saintly, they screw up, they get things wrong. They have a life and personality beyond 'mothering' and it's important to recognise and celebrate that too. They also bring their experience and personality to the way they parent. Our relationships with our own mothers is one of our most formative relationships and can impact upon the people we become. Depending on whether we felt mothered, smothered or ignored and abandoned may shape our relationships with others - and how we feel about ourselves - for years to come. As mothers ourselves we may repeat the cycle, or do the exact opposite. It can be a tricky path too as our children grow to get the balance right- I can be the 'bad cop' of the parenting combo, but also fighting my children's battles - with maybe a hint of smothering :( In counselling, there's lots of different ways people might explore these dynamics and relationships. For many clients, the hardest bit can be getting started because we can often feel incredibly disloyal about talking to someone else about our mums,our families, irrespective of the quality of the relationship and whether they are still in our lives. But a lot of clients can find this work incredibly helpful. And counselling gives you that safe space to do the work. It's not a place of judgement, blaming or taking sides... And, whether you are a mother or a child - or both - make time to look after yourself and 'mother' yourself today too. (Please note inclusion of a nice bunch of flowers below)
- My Services | JB Counselling
Support on your journey Get In Touch 1-2-1 Counselling Finding your way Schedule a Session Reflective space Skills sessions with time to breathe. Schedule a Session FAQs What are your fees? My standard fees for a 50 minute session are £40. Stand-alone EFT sessions are £50 for up to 50 minutes. What's the difference between the counselling and skill sessions? The 1-2-1 counselling sessions offer us a chance to talk through with support whatever you need to talk through. The reflective skill sessions are a bit more practical and help you to experiement with different tools to help you on your wellbeing journey. Can I book an initial assessment? It can be hard to decide who you want to work with, so in the first instance, I offer an assessment session which gives you the chance to see how it might feel for us to work together. (This is £40). What qualifications do you have? Specific to counselling , I have a degree in counselling and have also completed further training in different areas such as loss and grief and suicidal ideation.I have completed additional training on working creatively with clients and also on working with clients on the Autistic Spectrum . I have both personal and professional experience of working with people on the autistic spectrum. I have worked with many clients struggling with mental health issues, both adults and young people. I am a registered member of the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists and abide by their ethical code and code of practice. I am a divisional member of the Children and young people, spirituality and private practice divisions too. I have a current enhanced DBS certificate, as well as a Mental Health First Aid Certificate. I have completed the ASIST training (Applied suicide intervention skills training). I hold a TA 101 certificate, from the European Association for Transactional Analysis. I am a qualified EFT practitioner.
- EFT | JB Counselling
EFT What is EFT? EFT is short for Emotional Freedom Techniques. It's also sometimes referred to as 'Tapping'. It's based around the meridian points in the body that are used in acupuncture. What are your fees? I offer EFT as a stand alone session/sessions without counselling. EFT can work quickly and effectively, and I can offer a session or two where I train you in the technique to use yourself.My fees for EFT are currently £50. What can EFT be used for? EFT can be a really useful way of working with a range of issues. It can be used for feelings such as anxiety and anger, as well as more specific issues such as a phobia. It also offers a safe way in working with trauma. Can I book an EFT Session? Yes, contact me by email or text message and please let me know you are wanting an EFT session specifically.
- Latest News | JB Counselling
Emotional Freedom Technique An alternative way of treating physical pain and emotional distress I have recently trained and qualified in EFT, which means I can now offer this valuable resource to my clients. EFT is a safe way to treat trauma , and can also be really helpful for pain and emotional hurt. It is also referred to as 'tapping' or 'acupressure'. Tapping the body can treat pain and re-balance the energy in our body. Schedule a Session