When Kerry returned to work after the premature birth of her twin boys, she was shocked at how the anxiety and stresses relating to the first months of her babies’ lives affected her in her day job.
The memories of the traumatic birth, the initial stay in hospital and then repeated follow-up appointments and health concerns for her babies, hung over her.
It was hard to shift the negative thoughts and worries.
“I just didn’t have any head space for work as my mind was so full with everything else that had been going on,” she said.
“My boys were born at 29 weeks and we had a really rough time at the beginning.
“There were lots of hospital appointments. I had a lot of anxiety about the boys, their health.
“I felt like I was just waiting for bad things to happen. I could not move on.
“I went back to work two days a week when they were just over a year old.
Could not cope
“But I just could not cope at work. I’d get to work in tears. It was a really tough time.”
Kerry was initially referred to see a counsellor through her workplace’s EAP scheme.
She found the four weeks of sessions helpful, but knew she still needed further support.
“I’d had another few weeks where I still wasn’t feeling great.
“I had started to feel better, but then I kept thinking: ‘What if it happened again? What if I struggled like that again? What could I do?’
Kerry, 38, came across BACP member Natasha Page, of This is Me Counselling and Psychotherapy, who was offering free support for mums with children under the age of two, through a scheme that was funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.
Because they were free and easy to access, Kerry decided to go ahead and book six sessions with the counsellor.
Her counsellor used different strategies from CBT to help Kerry find ways of dealing with her anxieties and the issues that were causing her problems.
“They were really simple things I could do if I felt those anxieties again. They were so useful.”
One of the strategies that her counsellor taught her was the ‘worry pot’.
Feeling of guilt
“I’m a mum of twins. I’m non-stop. I had a million things flitting about my head. But I also had that feeling of guilt and feeling that I shouldn’t be falling apart.
“The ‘worry pot’ really helped me understand what I was worrying about and put it in perspective. It was really effective.”
Kerry‘s counsellor also helped her understand how writing things down could be beneficial – and it prompted her to start keeping a diary.
“Each day I write three things that I’m grateful for. It’s something that really instils the positive thoughts in my head,” she said.
And it’s that extra positivity that Kerry believes is one of the best things that has come out of the sessions with her counsellor.
Back on track
“Counselling has encouraged me to think more positively. It helped me get back on track.
She added: “I’m a bit more aware of my feelings now and what triggers me.
“I didn’t realise I felt a certain way about things until I started talking about it.
“It’s made me realise more about my anxieties and the unhealthy ways of thinking I sometimes have, and what pushes me when I’m stressed.
“Being clearer about these different things and having strategies to cope when I feel that way has helped me be more positive.”
Of course, Kerry is still a busy working mum of twin boys. Arlo and Eti are now toddlers.
But she now feels that bit more prepared to cope if she is struggling with stress and anxiety, at home or at work.
“I feel very grateful that my counsellor could help me,” she added.
If you want to speak to a counsellor or psychotherapist, visit our Therapist directory.
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