Why I Became A Counsellor
Updated: Sep 19, 2021
Before I really thought about the impact of mental health, there was actually more there in my life to reflect upon than I first realised
I had a few reasons for wanting to become a counsellor. I had unexpectedly experienced post partum depression after the birth of my children, I had two traumatic labour experiences that were unresolved at the time, I found the process of becoming a mother challenging for many reasons including the work I did in my personal therapy around my adoption and I am the daughter of a Vietnam war veteran who, understandably, has PTSD.
Throughout my training I have been drawn to attachment theory and its effects on relationships. I suppose I always wondered what the impact had been on me of being abandoned as a newborn baby who wasn’t adopted until 7 months old by which time, according to the theory, a lot of my attachment behaviours would have been well established. Although I was really excited about being a new mum, I don’t think I was mentally or emotionally prepared for having a newborn. I honestly believe that very few new mothers are prepared for the 24/7 relentlessness alongside the social pressures of how things “should” be whilst managing on very little sleep. I found the loneliness and tiredness were overwhelming at times and if I am completely honest, I found entertaining a newborn a bit boring at times. I couldn’t have admitted that at the time. I felt that I had been well supported and informed about pregnancy and labour but felt woefully under prepared for what it would be like to have a newborn. I was exhausted, hormonal, the feeding was a nightmare and I felt completely alone once my husband went back to work. I wasn’t alone, I had a group of NCT friends and family all close by. But I felt alone. I wish someone had told me how normal everything I was feeling was and how it was ok to not feel great about it all. I do think that the social pressures can feel overwhelming to new mums as well. My adoption did play a part, and still plays a part, in my parenting style which is something I continue to be curious about.
I think of those early days and wish that I had received more support from a mental health professional. My GP surgery were amazing but there was very little they could offer me. There are perinatal mental health teams in most NHS areas now, but I haven’t heard women talking about the services much as I imagine they are pushed beyond capacity like all of the NHS services. Perinatal mental health encompasses the father as well as the mother and isn’t limited to the newborn stage, it goes to up to 24 months post partum. Perinatal mental illness affects up to 20% of new and expectant mums and if left untreated can have significant and long term effects on the family.
I hope to make a difference in this area and urge all parents and parents to be to speak to a counsellor if they have difficult emotions. This can be years after the perinatal period and could be a result of difficulties at the antenatal stage, a traumatic labour, postnatal period or any mental health concerns triggered by becoming a parent. Should you wish to discuss the possibility of counselling, please do not hesitate to contact me and we can organise an initial consultation.