Counselling

Never underestimate the power of a good chat.

I have been seeing ‘our Steve’ my counsellor since last November and on September the 14th it should be our final session. As I spoke to him yesterday about how far I’ve come since those manic days I remembered the day I rang them to arrange some help.

I had been signed off work for 2 weeks already at this point and had just been back to the doctors and she’d given me another 2 weeks as I still wasn’t anywhere near being any better. For some reason I sat in the car when I got home and I cried. I cried so much it hurt. I didn’t know why I was crying. I just was.

I sent my boyfriend a text telling him what was happening and he rang me straight away. Bless him he must have been shitting himself but he was so calm considering he was at work and couldn’t really help other than listen to my manic ramble.

I remember feeling scared. Genuinely concerned for myself because I didn’t know what was wrong. Looking back I think it had something to do with having to accept more help from the doctor other than a few more weeks off – she’d mentioned medication and counselling in the appointment and given me some leaflets. But at the time the fear was real. So real it was stopping me from even leaving the car and going in my house. I was scared because I just wanted all the feelings to stop. They hurt too much. It was like white noise in my brain and I couldn’t make any of it out.

I remember my boyfriend asking me why I was scared. I said I didn’t know what would happen. He asked if I thought i might hurt myself and I told him I was worried I would. He begged me to ring the number on the leaflet the doctor had given me.

It’s worth mentioning here that I have self harmed in the past. I didn’t see it as that at the time as I wasn’t cutting myself. I chose something a bit more extreme – I used to hit myself on the side of my head. Or bang my head against things to hurt it. No one other than my boyfriend had ever seen me do this – it’s not something you shout about. He understood when it happened i was at my lowest.

When I eventually calmed down enough to leave the car I rang the IAPT service run by Bradford NHS. I spoke at length to a man I’d never met before and told him things I’d not even told my boyfriend and by the end of that conversation I knew that the doctor was right. To work through these issues of PTSD and social anxiety I needed to do more.

I needed to help myself.

And as awful as that day was i always think of it positively because it was the start of my recovery. That day was my rock bottom and the only way for me to go from there was up.

And I did.

Don’t be afraid to talk. It’s something so simple but it’s amazing.

Breakdown

I don’t really remember much about how I became ill. But I do remember the day that it all came to a head.

I remember it like it was yesterday – as most people with ptsd do. The feelings ranging from hopelessness, to numbness, anxiety, anger and just plain old sadness.

Depesession is not just feeling a bit sad. It’s feeling nothing and everything all at once and not knowing how to process it all. Or even wanting to. It’s being tired but then lying awake at night with a hundred thoughts streaming through your head not allowing you to sleep.

The day I had my breakdown started like any other. I was at work. It was a Monday. At that time I was a teacher at a special school for ‘naughty boys and girls’ teaching food tech and cooking. I had raised concerns about safety time and time again to senior leadership and even whistleblown to the police when a member of staff had been discovered to be grooming one of the students. And it had all been brushed under the carpet.

That day, during a practical lesson a boy threw oil in another boys face, completely unprovoked.

Seeing that, something inside me snapped. The noise that the boy that had oil in his face was making will stay with me forever. The boy who threw the oil then pushed me into the door and left the room. I’ve had nightmares about that day more tunes than I care to remember.

No one should feel so bad about themselves that they’re reduced to crying in store cupboards not knowing what to do with themselves. The closest feeling I could describe it as is heartbreak. I was literally broken as a person. I didn’t know who I was anymore. This crazy crying, irritable and angry person had taken over.

I left school that day and haven’t been back since. The thought of going back made me feel physically sick. It still does. I’ve not even been to collect my personal belongings.

I’m in a much better place now, I’ve done some supply work but still when I enter a school I get that panicked feeling. A tight chest and the fear that something bad could happen. Of course it hasn’t but the past experience tells me it could. So I left teaching.

I see a counsellor regularly, he’s good is our steve. He seems to know what he’s on about and it’s made me feel better. I used to go every week without fail but we’re slowly reducing it down as I don’t NEED to go as much anymore. Counselling has played a huge part in helping me accept what happened and rediscovering who I am again.

My partner calls me Katie 2.0 – he’s a computer technician – and it’s right. I’m a better updated version of myself. I might not be 100% but I don’t feel worthless anymore and that’s a start.

Anxiety

Anxiety is a massive part of my life. I worry about everything. And not just worry, but then panic and then dread. Things that might not concern anyone else are major issues for me.

Talking to people in shops is an example. My ex husband used to force me to speak to people. He would walk up to shop assistants, tell them I wanted to ask them something then walk away. Or worse just point blank refuse to help me out then say ‘if you don’t speak to them I’m not either’ quite often as I had tears in my eyes pleading with him.

Another example is phone calls. I’m someone who much prefers to communicate via text or email. It’s just easier, I can plan my responses. Delete what I don’t like and start again if I need to. I often find myself staring at my phone screen when someone is calling me almost willing them to stop, because the mere thought of answering is too much.

Worse than answering the phone is making phone calls. What do I say when they answer? Will I sound like an idiot? What if they don’t answer and I have to (god forbid) leave a voicemail??

Leaving a Voicemail is the most horrendous anxiety experience I can go through. You only – in most cases – have one chance to leave the message. That in itself is panic inducing. Then what do you say? I’ve spent time planning how to talk to someone that answers not to worry about talking to a machine. Ok Then, don’t leave a message. But what if they don’t call me back??? You see where my mind goes….

My current partner is really good with me though and will make phone calls for me or speak to people as he understands how much it upsets me – to the point where the rest of my day could get ruined.

I’m getting better. I find it easier to speak to people like my mum on the phone but that’s about it. Which can make me look like a shitty friend – I’m not though honest!

If you need me, just text xx

Diagnosis

My son has autism. You might hear me mention that from time to time (ok maybe a bit more). He was diagnosed on Wednesday (26th July 2017), this was after 2 years of going back and forth to doctor’s appointments, speech and language therapy, nursery observations and waiting for nearly 12 months just for the assessment. I know what you’re thinking, ridiculous. Imagine waiting that long for a cancer diagnosis.

It doesn’t define who he is though. Far from it. He is on the outside, like any normal 4 year old. He’s super excited about going to school in September and he loves his scooter, Lego and dinosaurs.

But on the inside – and you can only really notice it if you know him well, you can see he’s a little ball of energy. Wound up really tightly and he doesn’t really know how to express it all. He gets anxious in New places or with new people. His food consumption consists of everything beige with beans and ketchup thrown in occasionally.

He LOVES numbers and we don’t really watch anything other than the chase, pointless or – a new favourite – the crystal maze. He could tell you what fraction of a cookie you were getting or what 8×7 is. But he couldn’t tell you what he did at nursery that day or how he feels about something.

I try to focus on what he can do rather than what he can’t. My brother seems to think he’ll be working at Oxford doing his masters by the time he’s 15 and I like that.

Above all he’s my little funny onion. My one and only child. And I love him for who he is. Being diagnosed didn’t change him in anyway. He’ll always be my little Noah noo.

Intro…

Hi everyone! I never know how to start these things off so I thought I’d introduce myself first of all and explain a bit about why I’m writing this blog.

I’m Katie and I run my own small business making cakes in Leeds Kirkgate Market. Before that I was a food technology teacher at a special school in Bradford. In October last year I had a breakdown due to work related stress – although my former employer may try to tell you otherwise – and as a result I now suffer from social anxiety and a bit of PTSD thrown in for good measure.

But it’s ok, because at least I’m not hiding in store cupboards crying my eyes out, or shouting at people for no good reason or having endless nights of no sleep due to panic attacks and nightmares. I might have to take some happy pills and see a counsellor (our steve) every couple of week’s, but it’s worth it – I’m actually happy now. I don’t feel worthless anymore.

This is a picture of me (actually it’s 2 pictures in one but you get the point) before and after my breakdown. Yep, I did a Britney. I shaved my hair off. And it’s taken A YEAR to grow it to my chin.

It wasn’t until I did this picture on my Instagram the other day that I realised what people mean when they tell me I look ‘well’ now compared to then. I’m still struggling but I take each day as it comes.

I live with my son and my boyfriend. Who are 2 of my favourite people in the world. My son is 4 and has recently been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (what they now call Aspergers). He will go to mainstream school in September and he is my little super hero.

He’s an old man trapped in a 4 year olds body. An old soul you might say. The most infuriating funny lovable little boy you’ll ever meet. He doesn’t understand humour but he’ll make you cry with laughter with the off the cuff things he says.

I’ve started this blog to help me process all the stuff that’s in my head. But also thinking that I might be able to help one or 2 people by letting them know they’re not alone or just make people feel better about themselves with my stories.

So enjoy! Feel free to leave a comment xx