Critical Illness 

Discovering that you have an illness or disease that will affect the quality of your life and how you can live it is often a huge, unexpected shock and at first it may feel almost impossible to comprehend and imagine how you will go forward.  When you are given a diagnosis or prognosis it changes your whole outlook on work, relationships, friendships, personal enjoyment, meaning and  purpose.  It's normal for a while to feel confused, numbed out, angry, a bit depressed or anxious, or all of these things at different points.  There is no "right" way to feel or behave when this happens.

 If I can't work it will ruin my family's life - what the hell am I going to do?

It is natural to think of the worst-case scenario first, but often there is time to adjust our lives rather than change them completely to continue. In the face of something that is happening against our will and desire it is hard to realise that there are still options available and feel that we have some control. This is something that it's normal to think and feel.  Talking things through with someone who isn't involved in our day-to-day life offers an opportunity to figure out what we can influence and have control over and feel that we can still make decisions and choices that are of benefit to us and the people we love.

I just can't bear to talk to my family or friends about this, I would crack up and I don't want their pity.  How can I get a grip on my feelings again?

It takes time to absorb news that affects our whole sense of things. It can seem like the world as we knew it has ceased to exist and we are suddenly in a completely unfamiliar landscape where our strategies for dealing with life and other people just don't seem up to the task.  Your emotions may be changing like the weather and the people you are most intimate with may be struggling too. Counselling sessions can provide a safe haven where you don't have to worry about their needs and can focus on your own reactions to figure out how to come to terms with the changes and challenges you face. This helps stabilise things so that eventually you can talk about your situation with people you care about and feel like you are still in the driving seat of your life, albeit in a very different terrain.

I feel freaked out and I can't believe what the Doctor said to me. I am afraid of what is going to happen to me. The future is terrifying, I just want to hide under the duvet and hope that it goes away. This isn't living, is there anything I can do to feel less afraid?

Getting a diagnosis that heralds a lot of change and challenge can be overwhelming and our fight, flight, or freeze response to danger gets activated as a result. Counselling can help you learn strategies that you can use to deal with this response and calm your initial reactions to provide the opportunity to "eat the elephant one bite at a time". Gradually you can work through your fearful response to reach a new perspective and ways of enjoying your life that make sense to you.

I'm really sick of the platitudes that other people come out with and their totally inane attitudes about how I look and how I ought to feel.  They haven't got a damn clue what it is like to be me and they aren't really interested beyond a superficial check in - if they manage that..  Socialising and going out in the world is a mine field, people either blank me completely or fawn all over me ... I hate it and I feel really angry.  I just don't know how to deal with it, will I ever enjoy other people's company again?

Other people's reactions and attitudes to what is happening in our life can definitely be hard to handle, to start with it can be because we haven't quite figured out our own perspective on our situation and later it's because we have! Social relationships will always present a challenge but counselling can help by giving you the space to vent a little and then work out the best way to deal with the reactions, platitudes and opinions of others, without letting them infect your sense of self and wellbeing.