Becky’s Blog…

Stop saying you don’t need therapy – everyone does!   

I was born in the 80s, a generation where crying was shameful, and most men did not express a lot of emotion.  

The problem was I was a sensitive child, so crying came very naturally to me, and I distinctly remember coming home from school one day, and  explaining to my mum how my teacher had shouted at me for talking in class.   

Instead of consoling me, the first words that came out of her mouth were, “did you get upset?” 

I stumbled over my words as I could sense her frustration, but eventually admitted that I did.  

The look of disappointment on her face was one that stayed with me for many years after that.  

Don’t get me wrong I don’t blame my mum for wanting her daughter to have a tougher exterior; I’ve had enough therapy now to understand that if the 80’s were a silent generation, just imagine what the 60’s were like!   

“If we spend our time blaming others – we just stay stuck in victim patterns. 

This is exactly what she had been taught by the society and generation she grew up in, and therefore she didn’t know any different.  

In short – she was raising me the best and only way she knew how! 

The only reason I grasped an understanding of this and can now feel complete empathy towards my mum is because I went to therapy! 

This very understanding has then enabled me to bring up my very sensitive son in a completely different way.  

You see, if we don’t get to the root cause of why we behave in certain ways, then we just repeat the same patterns as we go into adult hood, and raise children of our own.  

Now a therapist myself, I have lost count of the times I have heard people tell me that they don’t need therapy, and they believe it’s only for people who are having some kind of emotional and mental breakdown.  

But how do you think those people got to that mental state in the first place?  

Here are some reasons;  

  1. By being shut down by others (throughout their lives) and not being allowed an opinion, or to make their own decisions.  
  1. Not talking things through to allow their brain to process why other people have hurt them, controlled them, criticised them, etc.  
  1. By suppressing all of their feelings and emotions every time they ever felt angry, sad, or confused.  
  1. By not crying and breaking down when they just needed to let it all out.  
  1. By not releasing all of that built up frustration, anger, resentment, that they have buried deep inside their bodies for so many years.  

Imagine your mind is like a backpack.  

Now imagine filling up that backpack with lots and lots of rocks.  

Eventually you have to take out some of those rocks to be able to carry on, without collapsing with complete exhaustion right?  

Well our minds are just like the backpack, and get so clogged up with thoughts, that as the years tick by, if we don’t release some of those thoughts, everything becomes so jumbled up, and confusing that we are just heading for an emotional and mental breakdown ourselves!  

Throughout our lifetime, we come into contact with so many people, and many of those people will leave a scar (i.e. by criticising us, controlling us, judging us, belittling us etc). 

These people can be our parents, school teachers, other kids in the playground, work boss/superior (the list goes on) 

But Instead of allowing our brains to process why they have acted this way… 

(i.e. because we are children and we don’t know any better, or because we have low self-esteem and don’t believe our points are valid). 

…we bury all the hurt – and believe what they say is true.  

The anger and resentment however, still festers – just waiting for a time when it can all come back up again. 

This may be triggered by a traumatic event (i.e. a bereavement) and may cause us to have panic attacks, anger outbursts, anxiety or deep depression.   

Over the years, I have had a number of clients come to see me who have never been taught to express their emotions.  

One client turned up with a walking stick because the pain of not expressing emotion was now coming out physically and taking its toll on her body.  

Another client told me how he would talk to himself or would sit in the dark at home just staring at the tv, not realising he hadn’t turned it on.   

Now I’m not saying it’s an easy process.  

How can you begin to do something you have never been taught to do?  

I know many of you may also feel that talking to your loved ones is all the therapy you need, however friends and family have so many different opinions, judgements, and biases on a situation, that we often end up even more confused than when we started.  

Also if you put yourself in this situation, (and it was your friend coming to you for help) many of us, (if not all of us), will go into some kind of ‘rescue mode’, and instead of just listening, we will tell them exactly how to handle the situation and what we would do if we were them.  

As much as our intentions are good, we are actually hindering a person by doing this.   

For example; by rescuing a person, we are taking away their power, and the ability for them to realise that they can cope on their own.   

“We draw our strength from rescuing other people because it makes us feel wanted and needed, and therefore we are actually just doing it for ourselves. 

They will then constantly rely on other people’s opinions to guide them through life, and never truly believe that they have the resources (within them) to sort it out themselves.  

“For real change to happen, it must come from within. 

A therapist however, has been trained to understand that we are the best experts on ourselves, and nobody knows our back story like we do.  

“All the answers you will ever need are within you right now.” 

When we start talking in a space that feels safe and non-judgmental – all your problems will start to unravel and it will soon become clear as to what the real issue is.  

A therapist is also taught to go underneath the presenting issue (i.e. money worries, relationship breakdown, childhood issues) and look for the root cause of our problems – (i.e. which is often low self-esteem).  

Once we work on the root cause of our problems, we won’t keep repeating the same patterns of behaviour – because we will now understand the reasons why we keep on hurting and punishing ourselves.  

I recently had a client whose mum had passed away somewhat ten years ago now, but he had pushed his grief aside and carried on with his life the best and only way he knew how.  

The problem was he could only suppress his grief for so long, before it reared its ugly head once more.  

He began to tell me how he struggled with the guilt and the shame he now felt towards himself because he felt that he was never there for her.  

She struggled with a terminal illness for over two years but he would go out drinking with his friends instead of visiting her in hospital.  

For so long he pushed his feelings and emotions aside, but now that he had children of his own, he had a different perspective on life, and was becoming anxious, depressed and withdrawn. 

“What would she say to you right now if she were here,” I asked him…  

As things started to unravel, he told me how his mum had also brought him up to show little emotion and how everything was swept under the carpet and never spoken about.  

“Big boys don’t cry,” she would say to him every time he had tears in his eyes.  

A common theme I knew only too well.  

The more and more he spoke (out loud in a space that felt safe and non-judgmental); the more he began to come to his own conclusions.  

He had continuously been blaming himself for something he had never been taught to do… 

For example: Visiting her in hospital, buying her gifts, talking about how she was feeling…  

All of these things involved emotion, but for 26 years, he had been taught to suppress all of his feelings and emotions, and now he was racked with guilt, shame and fear.  

“She would tell me that she understood and that I shouldn’t feel guilty anymore, because I didn’t know any different,” he said. 

After just 6 sessions of therapy he walked out a different man.  

Now that he had a clearer picture of why he behaved the way he did, he was facing his future with a different set of beliefs that his own children would now benefit from.  

Going on a journey of self-discovery is one of the most exhilarating experiences you could possibly do with your life, and the only way you will ever find true happiness.  

This all starts with going for a counselling session and figuring out who you are, and what you want, and not relying on other people to guide you through life. 

Once we have that self-belief – we become unstoppable! 

Becky

Student Counsellor

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog and any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of Relate Bradford.

COVID Counselling for families in Leeds…

by Hayley Watson

The Relate Bradford Team would like to use our 70+ years’ experience of Relationship Counselling to support families in Leeds (remotely- video/telephone) using the Aviva Community Fund.

https://www.avivacommunityfund.co.uk/covid-counselling

  • Leeds families do not have access to fully funded/’free’ Relationship/Family Counselling as there has been no Relate branch in Leeds since 2018
  • Nobody should suffer because they can’t afford to get help
  • This project will offer a service which is accessible to some of the most vulnerable in our society
  • This project will tackle mental health inequality 
  • Family relationships are under more pressure than ever e.g. job losses, school closures and confinement
  • People are having more arguments
  • Parents are struggling to support their children and deal with challenging behaviours
  • Our highly trained (BACP approved) counsellors will help couples and families to build and nurture stronger family relationships, improve family functioning, reduce harmful behaviours and reduce the likelihood of family breakdown 
  • Let’s remove the financial barrier to help 
  • Let’s improve the mental health and wellbeing of families when they need us the most

Mental Health Awareness Week 2020…

Kindness…

We love the theme of ‘kindness’ for Mental Health Awareness Week 2020, as for us at Relate Bradford, it is one of our core guiding principles; kindness to one another and kindness to those we are fortunate to work with and support. #KindnessMatters

Special thanks to Jen and Jessamy for these fab posters!

A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees”

Amelia Earhart

Becky’s Blog on Grief…

When it comes to Grief, let the pain come.

For the past two years I have been working as a volunteer for Cruse Bereavement as part of my Level 4 Counselling Diploma.  

Having also lost my mum (in my twenties), I have also experienced the long and painful journey of grief first hand.  

I have always been someone who wears their heart on their sleeve, and find it incredibly hard to keep my feelings and emotions inside, so when a client tells me that they are struggling with their grief, the first thing I ask them is…  

“What is their support network like outside of counselling?”

I then start to see a familiar pattern arise, as I am met with similar responses.

“I don’t want to burden people with my problems.”

“They don’t understand and just want to put a positive spin on things.” 

“They tell me I should be over it by now.” 

“I must not cry in front of the kids.” 

Death is such a taboo subject in our society, and some people will even go to great lengths to avoid someone who is grieving because they don’t know what to say or how to act around them. They may even feel a sense of responsibility to try and make that person feel better.

I make no exception to this.  

Before I worked as a counsellor, I had a friend who lost her baby (at 22 weeks pregnant).  

Even though I had suffered bereavement myself, I was so afraid to go round and see her.  

I was scared I wouldn’t know what to say, or I would just blurt out something stupid to try and make her feel better, and she would shout at me for being so insensitive.  

Eventually, I did pluck up the courage to go round and we cried together and looked at the photos of her beautiful baby boy (together).  

I didn’t need to say anything because just being there was enough

Thankfully I have now learnt through my training at Cruse, that the best and only thing we need to do for the bereaved is to just be with them.  

No Advice.  

No Afterlife Stories.  

No Positive Quotes or Mantras.  

Just look them in the eyes and show them you are listening.  

You may think that this isn’t enough, or it doesn’t feel like you are doing anything, but by listening, you are allowing that person to process their shock, their anger, their guilt, and even the painful images (they may have had to of witnessed in the final few weeks – leading up to their loved ones death).  

If a person doesn’t feel listened to, or if they have been shut down most of their life, (by other people such as their parents or other authority figures) then they may learn to suppress their emotions, and this could eventually manifest into anxiety or depression.  

“If we feel we were not helped in life – it’s because we were not listened to.” 

Anon

What many people don’t realise when it comes to grief (and something I tell anyone that is struggling to express their emotions) is that –  

Crying and breaking down is the recovery. 

If we try and stop the crying, we are merely putting a plaster on top. 

The more we confront our grief, the more we move towards the acceptance stage.  

If expressing emotions is not something you are used to doing, then writing things down or saying it out loud to yourself (in the car on the way to work for example).  

Anything but keeping it in! 

Some even find that exercise helps. Many people will find that going for a long run will help bring out the tears.  

We must stop the stigma around crying,  

Crying is not a weakness. It is a strength! 

It is actually very healthy to cry and release the toxins and stress from our body.  

Explaining this to our children is also very useful. If they see mum and dad crying for example, they may feel a sense of panic – but explaining that this is perfectly normal and healthy will allow them to express their own emotions going forwards.  

The reason why counselling is so effective is not because a counsellor is telling you what to do (because you already have all the answers) – but because when we say things out loud, (in a space that feels safe and non-judgemental) our minds can make better sense of everything that seemed jumbled up and confusing.  

We can therefore process it better and figure out a way forwards.  

Many people struggle with the guilt they feel, and that maybe they could have done more.  

They also struggle with the final images of their loved one (especially if their loved one died from cancer).  

But the more we suppress these images and feelings of guilt and anger, the more they will linger.  

Many people will talk about the painful images just once or twice, and they will already start to notice a shift, as the images don’t seem so raw and distressing.  

It’s the same with the feelings of guilt. Say it out loud.  

Say whatever it is you feel guilty about.  

Allow yourself to feel that way but also learn to forgive yourself.  

We are all human after all. 

Life events lead up to how we deal with grief, and past events, childhood issues and even relationship struggles may resurface when we are grieving.  This is all completely normal.  

It’s important that we allow them to come forwards because if we keep suppressing our emotions, then we stay stuck (in life), unable to be truly present and happy.  

Grief will help us grow as a person.   

We become more resilient and are able to cope with other losses in the future.  

This blog was written by Becky, student counsellor.

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog and any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of Relate Bradford.

Becky’s Blog…

Going back to school in later life was the best thing I ever did!

Have you ever felt so unfulfilled in your life?

So confused and bored – thinking there must be more?

This is exactly how I felt over ten years ago when I decided to bite the bullet and go back to school.

I had worked in my office job for over five years at the time, and I didn’t hate it by any measure of a doubt – (I’m still working there part time over ten years later), but something didn’t feel right. It didn’t click and make me feel like I had a purpose.

I looked around for new job but I had no idea where to start or what I even wanted to do.

I felt so confused and anxious.

I then decided that Instead of looking for a new job, I would look at courses and groups – and when the next college open evening came round, I signed up for an English A Level Course.

I decided on English, purely because I liked it in high school.

One thing I have learnt since going on my (back to school) journey – is to always look at what you are naturally good at or what energises you in life.

It doesn’t have to be a subject that you took back in school; it can be anything – i.e. cooking, exercise, singing, dancing, gardening, reading, writing etc.

What I found is that when you follow what you are naturally good at or what energises you – your destined path will start to unravel, and everything will start to become clear, and click into place.

For example; The English course taught me how much I loved writing and what I loved writing about!

I.e. Real life – being open and honest about subjects that touch so many of us (anxiety, depression, grief etc.).

That’s when it finally clicked – I want to be a Counsellor!

I had always been in touch with my emotions; I was so sensitive as a child (and still am).

I have always loved those deep conversations you have with your friends over a glass of wine or over dinner.

Signing up for an English Course made me feel like my future had goals and something to aim for.

I finally had a purpose!

Since that course, with the exception of taking a few years off to have a child, and moving to a different city, I have now completed my Level 3 Counselling Skills Certificate, Level 4 Therapeutic Counselling Diploma, and I have just signed up for my Level 5 Relationship Diploma at Relate in the New Year (I want to specialise in relationships).

Going into my office job now (for a few days a week to pay the bills) feels like a relaxing break from all the exciting but challenging roles I take on throughout the rest of my working week.

For example; I have a number of clients I see every week at the two charities I volunteer for, I have essays and articles that I love to write in my spare time, and not to mention holding down a family and some well needed me time!

Our true passion in life doesn’t have to be paid work.

I know my new passion will eventually turn into my new career (at some point in the near future), but for now, I just love all the new people I get to meet on a weekly basis.

Also all the new information and training I receive – (when you are truly interested and passionate about something – our mind is like a sponge), and most importantly what I have learnt about myself – and the new, happy person I have become.

There is nothing more fulfilling in life than going on a journey of self-discovery and taking off the mask to become your true self.

This starts with deciding on what YOU want to do with the rest of your life, and where YOUR true interests lie – Not following someone else dreams and aspirations that may have previously been mapped out or decided for you.

“Go towards what you are most scared of because this is where you will learn the most about yourself.”

We are never too old!

Going back to school is one of the best things you could possibly do with your life.

I cannot express enough to all the people out there thinking about it, but talk themselves out of it…

Face the Fear and do it anyway!

You won’t regret it!

In all the classes I have taken – the ages range from people in their 20’s to people in their 70’s.

In my opinion, going back to school in later life is so much better because you are now following your own mind and your own interests.  

Also it’s not just about starting a new career or getting that degree to impress other people; it’s about doing something for you and becoming a whole new person in the process.

Going back to school changes you. It makes you feel happy, because it increases your self-worth, and your self-esteem.

Also you are surrounded by likeminded people. People who inspire you and make you feel anything is possible.

Don’t worry too much if you are still somewhat confused on where to start – even if you sign up for a course that doesn’t necessarily serve your needs, it will lead you onto the path that does.

It will enable you to gain an understanding of where your true strengths lie, and when fear is holding you back.

For example; I hated interviews and I hated speaking in front of a group of people – so I just told myself I wasn’t good at these things and never pushed myself out of my comfort zone.

The thing is you never get good at these things by just running away; they just need practice and patience.

In college I pushed myself to talk in front of the class because I wanted to overcome this fear.

At first my voice would shake and I felt so embarrassed, but every week I continued to push myself and eventually my voice stopped shaking and I found I could talk to the class and actually enjoy keeping a room full of people entertained.

The same goes with interviews, I wasn’t bad at them at all, I just needed to prepare myself with the questions and practice for ten minutes every day leading up to interview date.

We never lose – we either win or we learn!

Many of us out there are afraid of meeting new people and what other people may think of us, but I promise you everyone in the classroom feels the same, and after a few classes, all those worries will disappear.

In fact if I remember rightly, I’m pretty sure my sister had to walk me to the door of my very first college class because I was so afraid of walking into a classroom full of strangers.

But many of those strangers have now become my lifelong friends.

If we don’t face our fears, we just stand still in life, and this is when we start to feel bored and unsatisfied.

Now is the time to push yourself out of your comfort zone and become a whole new you – i.e. Join a choir, start a dance class, or simply go back to school and take an evening class.

There is nothing stopping you, apart from the voices in your head.

This blog was written by Becky, student counsellor.

Disclaimer: This is a personal blog and any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent those of Relate Bradford.

We’re still here to help the people of Bradford and Leeds during lockdown…

Coronavirus relationship advice as Relate Bradford moves counselling services to telephone and video call.

Counsellors at Relate, the leading relationships charity in England and Wales, have responded to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak by putting together advice for maintaining healthy relationships during social distancing and self-isolation. The tips, which are available in full on Relate’s national website, cover topics such as how to stay connected, avoid falling out with your partner and family members, and how to talk to your children about the virus and reduce anxiety.

Relate Bradford has suspended its face-to-face services in response to the pandemic. However, to enable them to continue to support the community’s relationships, the charity has increased its capacity to deliver counselling via telephone and webcam.

Tabitha, Therapist at Relate Bradford said:

The coronavirus pandemic is changing things for all of us on an individual and societal level. Some people are being thrown into being together 24-7 after previously having quite busy very separate lives this can bring new intensities and difficulties.

Others are separated from their loved ones and may not have physical connection with partners, family or anyone for months.

For some people lockdown is providing an opportunity to slow down, and for others, such as key workers and those working remotely, work stress has ramped up the pressures people are facing.

Anxiety affects everyone, and their relationships, in different ways. Relate Bradford’s Counsellors and Psycho-sexual Therapists are still here to help. People can self-refer, and receive tips on our website: https://relatebradford.org/

The tips are available in full on Relate’s National’s website and include :

–       If you are self-isolating at home you may feel disconnected from others. Make use of social media, text, instant messaging, phone and video messaging as ways of keeping connected.

–       Your routines and roles may change if one or both of you are working from home. This could be a challenge or an opportunity so try to make it work for you by checking in regularly about how this is going.

–       You may need to get creative with the space if you are both working from home. Take turns to share the most comfortable spot.

–       Stick to facts when talking to children and communicate with them calmly, consciously and responsibly, using simple language.

–       Try to avoid using catastrophising language. Brushing things under the carpet can also increase anxiety so aim to strike a balance.

–       If somebody says or does something to upset you, try counting to ten and taking some deep breaths. It may be that you no longer feel the need to ‘react.’

Visit http://relate.org.uk to find out more about their digital services and access a range of information and self-help.

Do you work in the banking industry?

Services available to you

Through the Bank Workers Charity, you may be eligible to free counselling at Relate Bradford, providing a range of relationship counselling services for individuals and couples, including family counselling, counselling for children and young people.

Face-to-face counselling is currently unavailable due to COVID-19.

Webcam counselling – work with a qualified counsellor via web camera.

Telephone counselling – work with a qualified counsellor over the phone.

Please contact the team on 01274 726096 or through the ‘contact’ section on our website, http://www.relatebradford.org or by emailing Information@RelateBradford.com