I have been visiting a headologist for the last few weeks, trying to make a bit of sense of things. As I said in an earlier post, it's all been a bit manky recently, and I got to the point where I decided I needed some help to wade out of the mankiness. Thankfully my blessed employer provides an employee support scheme, all independently managed and confidential, which has provided me with a course of counselling sessions.
I am a great believer in counselling - it's worked for me a few times in the past, by providing an independent face to ramble on to, someone who isn't going to be burdened by my troubles, who won't judge, but who will act as a mirror, enabling me to see things from an outside perspective. I have learnt a lot about myself each time, and some of the things I forget as time goes by and have to relearn each time. But some of them stick, and I get a little bit better at dealing with life as I move along.
Part of my problem is that I tend to be everybody's auntie/mum/counsellor/samaritan/whatever. I have always been a firm believer that "a trouble shared is a trouble halved". Except when it comes to me, of course. Then, "a trouble shared is two people depressed". So I tend not to talk about what really depresses, worries, frightens or troubles me, at least not to the people closest to me. I've seen a range of reactions to things I have had to tell people over the last 18 months or so.
- There are the people who don't know a lot about cancer, maybe haven't had any close experience of it, but see it as a word fraught with terror. They are nervous, sometimes openly frightened, and while they are wishing me well I can see their eyes casting around for an escape route.
- There are the people who know everything about everything, who are experts on cancer (all kinds), depression (all kinds), drugs, well-being, vitamins, diet, etc etc and can strongly recommend such-and-such a course of action. Their faces brighten at whatever awful thing I have just had to tell them, they believe that they really can help by sharing their knowledge - which is often much more detailed than (and often at odds with) that of the medical team!
- There are the people who know an awful lot about one or more aspects because it's what they do. They meet my news with a tendency to tilt their heads to one side, and make non-commital comments, because they can't make a professional judgement with only a few bits of information.
- There are the people who've walked this path themselves, who know what they experienced. Often when they hear my news, they smile - because it's familar, not exactly comfortable, but at least it's something they can empathise with. Generally they are prepared to share their experiences, but always with the understanding that we are all different, so what they can share might not be relevant.
- There are the people who know what's been going on - know that it's been pretty tough for everyone, know what's gone before. They sometimes do the head-tilt thing, but they listen, they say positive things, and then I suspect they go home and Google whatever I just mentioned so that next time they can ask a sensible question.
- Then there are the people who are very close, who are walking alongside this path and holding my hand, whose view of it is only through the window that I provide. The people who see my pain/stress/fear from a position where they feel that they can't help, and so they feel a different pain, linked inextricably with mine, that I can't do anything to assuage either. I know about this feeling, it's what I felt when my parents were dying. These are the people that sometimes I can't talk to - because when I tell them that I am frightened, depressed, in pain or whatever, and that they can't do anything about it, I see the light in their eyes die just a little bit more.
I have had four headology sessions recently, and one more to come next week. I think that will be enough for now. I've got a few things straighter than they were, and a few things I need to work on. And I need to remember that I am important too, and that it's important to let the people who are supporting me to support me... and to let them know that they are doing a blooming great job!
Thanks folks, I couldn't have got this far without you. You know who you are. You're my personal A-Team!
* I know that "to Facebook" isn't a real verb. But actually "text" used to be a noun not a verb, and nowadays I am not even embarrassed to say "texting". Sigh. That's another badge torm from my grammar police uniform...
Anyway, I got away with "to Google"...
And I know that there are sentences starting with prepositions. I did it on purpose, so yah booh to Mr Evans. So there. I have been waiting 36 years to say that in public and it actually feels rather good.