A mum of nine-month-old twins has told how speaking to a counsellor online has helped her cope with postnatal depression and the difficulties of life in lockdown.
Kat* said without the online sessions with her therapist she didn’t think she’d have been able to cope with being stuck at home without being able to see family and friends for support.
She says being able to talk to a professional counsellor, who doesn’t judge her, helps her explore her feelings and discuss practical steps she can take when she’s struggling, has been crucial during these difficult and uncertain times.
“Before counselling, lockdown would have been my worst nightmare,” said Kat.
Stressed and angry
“I couldn’t imagine being stuck at home with the kids all day and not have family and friends round and all that extra help. I’d have been worried about what would have happened and that I’d have been stressed and angry all the time.
“But talking to a counsellor, and being able to continue these sessions online, has definitely helped.”
After Kat’s twin boys were born last year she struggled to cope. She was diagnosed with postnatal depression and took medication for a while.
“I really struggled from day one of having the twins. I was crying a lot. I wasn’t coping at all,” she said.
“I was getting angry and frustrated every time they cried.
“My doctor initially suggested therapy. But at that time I couldn’t even picture getting out of the house or doing anything like that.”
After a while, Kat went to a group session for women with postnatal depression. There, she was given the details of counsellor and BACP member Natasha Page, at This Is Me Counselling and Psychotherapy.
“By that point, I’d just started thinking that this was something I needed to get a hold of. I thought I’d give counselling a try.”
Earlier this year, Kat started seeing the counsellor regularly.
“It’s been really useful.
“I’ve found it good to talk about how I feel and not be judged. The biggest thing that had been weighing on my mind since having the boys had been those feelings of ‘you’re not meant to be feeling like this, ‘you should be dealing with it’, ‘you can’t be getting angry at babies’. To be able to have that non-judgmental chat about it all really helped.”
Kat added: “It’s definitely different talking to a counsellor, rather than a family member or friend. My family has just been so happy with the babies arriving. They’ve just wanted me to be happy and they don’t really understand why I’m not.
“Some friends, I know they’ve struggled and I know they get how I’ve felt. But some mums just give you a look when you say how you feel and I think ‘ooh I better not say any more’.”
Kat said: “The practical help has been really useful too.
“We went through some different CBT techniques.
“I’ve been keeping a mood diary to see what really set me off. It triggered some interesting discussions. Things that I didn’t think about such as how I interact with my parents or my partner. I hadn’t thought about how to make just little changes in what I was doing and how it might help.”
When the lockdown restrictions came into force because of coronavirus, Kat’s sessions continued online, rather than face to face.
“We still see each other’s faces,” she said. “I dial in from home and am looking at her on my computer screen. I still see her well enough on there. We can still have a proper conversation. It still feels like we’re making eye contact.
“My partner’s in another room, looking after the kids, so he can’t hear.”
At her first online session, Kat’s counsellor explained how the sessions would work and about the web platform they were using.
“I felt really secure as she explained the set up and said that no one could overhear us,” said Kat.
Works really well
“It works really well as an approach.”
She added she’s found online counselling more convenient in terms of family life as well.
“It was handy to be able to meet face to face at the start and get to know her. But it did also make it a bit more difficult as it was time out of the house and I had to leave my partner with the kids.
“Now I’m at home. I’m not far away from the kids. It’s easier.
“Like all appointments you just go for face to face. I just assumed that was the way I’d do it. Having done it online I wish I’d done that from the start.”
Kat has also found that the time spent at home with just her partner and the babies has helped her focus on what she’s found out and learnt during counselling.
“I think I’ve been lucky,” she said. “Lockdown has given me a bit of time to work on the things that we’ve discussed.
Using techniques I've learnt
“I’m really managing to get hold of my anger and recognise that they are babies. They don’t mean to annoy me.
“I’m using the techniques I’ve learnt from my counsellor to reason my way out of some of the feelings I’ve had, and to avoid getting into the place I was in before.”
To find a counsellor or psychotherapist who works online visit our Therapist Directory.
*Not her real name.
Illustrations and graphics by Emily Catherine Illustration. www.emilycatherineillustration.com
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