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Sandra Dean – Registered Member


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I start my counselling placement next week – finally feeling proud of myself!

I was just saying this week how looking back at the times my mental health issues were at their worst and I was out

My first memoir

My first memoir

of control, seems surreal and it’s like watching a fiction film in my mind – a nightmarish story at times. How far I have come… I begin my counselling placement next week and I am really looking forward to it! I am an integrative counsellor, taught CBT, person-centred and

My sequel memoir

My sequel memoir

psycho-dynamic theories.

I started my first counselling course in September 2012 and I remember it clearly. That formed a part of my sequel memoir ‘39’…

October 2012… I recently enrolled on a college course; ‘AQA Intro to Counselling’ on Mondays … only a couple of hours each week with a few hours’ homework… 

I hope it will all go well for me, as it will be a whole lot different to being indoors working from home in hibernation and solitude a lot of the time. I hope to get on well with my classmates, gain some confidence, and learn in a classroom environment towards qualifications and a new line of work eventually, in the years to come…

I was so nervous to start college at first, thinking… will I get on with people? Will I be able to keep up?  Will I be able to cope with the role plays?  Will I cope with the new academic environment – a place I haven’t been in for many years?  But, luckily, I was too excited about starting the course to worry much and, as usual when it comes to worry anyway, it would have all been for nothing as I loved the classes within minutes of being there.

What a turnaround from the angry, upset, suicidal, drunken, stay in bed, paranoid, changeable person I had been. Not that I regret my mental illness because I don’t – it has made me who I am and I am now proud of who I am – but it is very rewarding to think that all the years of effort I put into trying to recover have now paid off. If I hadn’t been at the brink of totally giving up my life, I would not have been through the life enhancing journey back into my past life to find out who I had become and why. I wouldn’t have researched mental illness so carefully nor had the strength to do my advocating and anti-stigma campaigning. I wouldn’t have looked at everyone close to me to see who they really are, how they affect me, good and bad, how happy, sad or indifferent they are and why they lead their lives the way they do. I wouldn’t be who I am right now. I might just still be floating along just about coping with my illness as I had been. But it didn’t work out like that – I got worse, and worse, until I was at my wits’ end to even cope with myself let alone those around me. And that gave me the drive to do something about it.

And there came my four year writing journey out of those dark, confusing, angry, drunken, upset days, into the days I have now – full of clarity instead of delusion, where I stop to indulge in the sun instead of hide from it, and where food tastes better than ever. And I am taking my age in my stride now. I am actually pleased to be thirty-eight. I love my newfound wisdom and the experience I have of life to reflect upon. I’ve spent years since my thirtieth birthday deeply unhappy and feeling ‘old’ while everyone called me a youngster, but they had been right, I wasn’t old, I’m still not old. It was my state of mind at the time. I am now embracing my years and will not waste another day. I am now ‘living in the moment’ again. Although it doesn’t help much with long term plans and responsibilities, living in the moment is right for me at this time…

The thing is, when I wrote this, just two and half years ago, I was still suffering with panic, confidence and responsibility issues. Going to college, moving, getting my pets, having therapy, practising mindfulness, my medications and inner strength have got me to this place now – the place that, as I wrote this in 2012, I was still seeing as a dream goal, but not one I imagined I would REALLY get to.

And here I am. So, I pat myself on the back this day, and I am looking forward to completing my course in June 2016 and seeing where life takes me then. I feel competent again now; not a failure. I seem to have taken to counselling like a duck to water and am very excited about the prospects of helping people as I have been helped in the past.

As a little celebration of my getting this far and the start date for my placement, I bought a nose stud and had an upper ear ring fitted today and I am wearing more jewellery again – a bit grunge lol The guy who had to stretch my upper ear hole to fit the ring said ‘Cor, you can take some pain, that would’ve really hurt’ and I wanted to say to him ‘Yeah it’s because of my history of self harming’ but I didn’t. But as I drove home I pondered on how, when I was fifteen, I took to self harming as one of my escapes. How far I have come. 🙂

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