When you think of cancer what do you imagine? Bald heads, headscarves, wigs, hospitals, surgery, need I go on? People rarely think of one of the main side effects of life with and after cancer. Mental health.
Depression is not a word I have ever associated with, nor is anxiety. In fact I believe I have travelled on this journey with positivity and a smile (along with a vodka or two!). There have been times where I have struggled with appointments, scans and emotions – just normal things and I did seek support from Macmillan who offer counselling for people affected by cancer. It was OK, nothing groundbreaking but I did learn to talk about how I was feeling and accept that there would be times where I struggled. I was referred back after six months as I was still not coping. Again, I accepted that every 12 weeks (scan time) I would be a wreck, unreasonable, narky and angry [insert your own word here] But hey it’s OK, I have cancer.
In October I was told good news – my scans were clear. How did I react? I was inconsolable, angry and stressed. I realised that this was not OK and my lovely nurse referred me back to a different counsellor. I reluctantly gave it a try…..
I traipsed along to Liverpool and met with my new counsellor Angela. I was not expecting any results and I was embarrassed so I told few people about my sessions. Mental health issues, not Emma McCloskey. Angela asked if I would try a therapy which would be part of a study. I agreed and, although I was still sceptical, I met with the professor at Liverpool University. I answered more questions in one meeting than Mastermind had in a whole series. The results? I had depressive thoughts but was mainly suffering from servere anxiety. Me? Anxiety? No way, Josè.
I started a course of therapy with Angela the following week. Metacognative therapy to be precise. This wasn’t talking feelings (which I hate) but this was about understanding beliefs and breaking them down. understanding worry and how you react to it and how this can control you and waste your life.
Did it work
Yes. This therapy has changed my life. I ‘choose my mood’. Reactions to situations and thoughts are completely in my control and I know that now. I can see people stressing and worrying about things and I new look at them in disbelief. Why is this not common sense? Why do we get stressed over unimportant things?
I never ever ever believed in therapy and counselling…but I do now. I absolutely do.
And the cost…..
Yes, that’s right, this therapy has cost me nothing. It was provided free of charge by Macmillan. WOW!!! This course was only possible because of the lovely folk who donate to this wonderful charity. So if you have donated to them, THANK YOU.