Rather excitingly, this morning I bumped into my ex-psychologist, B, whilst on the High Street of where I live.
I don't mean that in a sarcastic self-deprecating "look how un-exciting my life is" kind of way. I was genuinely excited and made up to see her again. We haven't met in a professional capacity for just under a year and the last time I saw her was the eve of Wriggles' birthday when she called round. I knew she lived in our area and I always keep an eye out for her and she told me today as we chatted she often does the same for us.
Not everyone has had the fortune to have such a good counsellor, but B is without a doubt one of the best things that happened to me along the the special care and beyond route. We first met when Wriggles was about 35 weeks gestation and fighting a loosing battle to kick her growing oxygen habit before discharge. I had become a slight emotional robot between bouts of hysteria and at long last a matron decided that maybe it would be a good idea if I could talk to someone. So B was called down to the unit. Looking back I am so grateful it was her as immediately I felt I could trust her.
And trust I did. She has seen me at my lowest ebbs and I have told her things I would never dream of uttering to another human being (or even inanimate object for that matter). I think when you are being that open with someone your relationship can go one of two ways; either you can become quite deeply involved or between sessions you can be very measurably detached as a way of self-preservation. Neither is right or wrong, in my opinion it very much depends on the people involved and the circumstances. Personally, for me it was the former. Over the last two and half years, B has exchanged Christmas cards with us and bought Wriggles birthday and Christmas presents, offered to do my ironing, turned up at my flat at night to check I was ok and harangued my GP for not being more supportive as well as taking it upon herself to arrange me appointments when I felt too unwell and worthless to do so. I don't make a habit of nit-picking through job descriptions, but I'm pretty sure that none of the above are present in the remit of a clinical psychologist.
Although of course not the only factor, I feel I owe a lot of my mental health recovery to B who has been a pillar of unwavering support. I'm fully aware that that is her job; to try and make people better by getting them to understand themselves and life a bit more rationally and realistically. But I've always felt she went the extra mile. I have heard so many sadder stories where people very much in want and need of help like me, had the rug pulled from under their feet, were cut off, dropped and told there was no room at the inn, so to speak. So I am beyond grateful to have been able to experience some of the best support that both the NHS and human compassion can offer. When you are drowning in anxiety, depression, fear and living one foot in the past you need someone to keep rooting for you. Someone with complete belief in your abilities and as a person. Someone who will go over the most basic ground and facts and keep encouraging you to put one foot in front of the other. Someone to take your hand and say it is alright. Someone to read between the lines and decipher the detachment. Someone to provoke tears when needed and help stop them. For some people, excellent friends and family are enough, and largely I don't fault mine. But sometimes you also need a bit of professional help, a push from someone who knows the right things to say. Who doesn't think you're mad, dramatic, silly or ungrateful. Someone who knows you are just a bit lost but can help direct you back to your path.
Next week, we will be moving from our district to another across the city. I had been hoping we would see B before leaving. I know if she really wanted to get in touch, our new address would be on the hospital system and I still have her telephone number, but I still wanted to see her in person. If nothing else, so she could see that the emotional wreck she counselled and help put back together, has blossomed. And Wriggles; whom she has seen both grow up and also sat with me in Wriggles' most critical times and kept us company during lunch breaks during admissions. She has been part of our story and it felt quite fitting to exchange news and personally give her our details before we start a new chapter. Aside from the madness of packing and moving, I feel like I am now ready to say goodbye and move. I have now seen everyone I wanted to in our area and know they will all still be there with several miles between us.