At lunchtime on Thursday this week I was sitting on a bench in Soho Square. It was only when I stood up to go to my meeting that I noticed the plaque on the bench. It was the one dedicated to Kirsty MacColl. Now you probably know that I love her music so that made this significant and moving.Not least as I had just been having a telephone assessment for counselling and it was not the easiest conversation to hold in a public place. I gave the general details of what's been going on in the last year and a bit - to recap, bereavement, breast cancer (not me) and return to working full time. The most recent events have, however, pushed me over the edge. While everything else was happening to people I love I was able to keep busy by helping them. It was possible to just keep going and avoid dealing with my own stuff the whole time. This most recent thing, however. is happening to me and I can't avoid it or 'do' my way out of it.
I spent the first week in shock and unable to speak to anyone without crying. It made talking to anyone very difficult. In conversation with friends I found myself saying, "I'm so, so sorry it's just one thing after another with me isn't it ?" It was like I was cashing in all my friendship chips in one big hit. Thankfully they didn't respond with, "Well it is a bit much actually and it's about time you just pulled yourself together." Instead I had the reassurance and kindness of those I love and who love me in return. However, I am the one who has to make decisions about my life and my kids. It's down to me to be the adult for all of us. No amount of advice from others can make that any easier, but it does help to have someone listen and sympathise.
A counsellor doesn't sympathise, but the person doing the initial assessment can.
"It does sound like a very difficult time. I can hear in your voice that it's a struggle."
A murmur of agreement.
"Now I have to ask this question."
"Have you considered harming yourself."
"I know it's not an easy question to answer."
"What makes you stop yourself."
I wouldn't do that to my children. Or my family. I don't want to hurt anyone else.
"Do you know what to do if you have those thoughts or you feel you are at risk of harming yourself ?"
Yes I think so.
"What would you do ?"
I'd call Samaritans.
"That's good. You can also call your GP for an urgent appointment or you can present yourself to A&E."
There's a bit more explanation of what happens next then she asks me,
"What are you doing for the rest of the day ?"
I'm going to meet a friend for coffee and a catch up. Then I'm picking up my boys and spending the evening with them.
"That sounds nice."
I walk to where I'm meeting my friend. We sit with her holding my hands for support. The tears start and just don't stop. I notice all the people around us. She looks me straight in the eye as I dart my eyes around to see who's looking at me. "Keep talking" she says, so I do. Everything. How I feel unloved, ugly, unwanted. The fear of getting things wrong for my kids. The inability to think straight or to make a single decision. "You are going to feel like this, but let me tell you that voice in your head is wrong." I need to keep reminding myself that the voice telling me I am rubbish, I am negative, I am a bad person and all manner of other stuff is a symptom of this.
And this will pass.