Disability Counselling: Part 6
My counselling session was cancelled this week, meaning that my final session will be delayed by a week. I kind of missed it. As I mentioned last time, I was quite getting used to the security blanket that was an hour where I could vent my frustrations and know I’d come out with practical solutions. But really, I’ve now hit all the bases that were allowing my illness to hold me back emotionally. The counsellor has given me the tools to move forward with how I feel about my illness. I just have to put them to work every day.
Here are a couple of significant things that made me feel like there’s been a big shift in my attitude this week.
I mentioned in Part 5 how I was starting to take control of the horrible, angry feeling of being left out of a group because I couldn’t physically take part or be somewhere. The show I really want to go to is tomorrow. Usually by this point I would be a mess. I’d be cursing everyone talking about it, berating my situation, hating my stupid off-balance body for not working properly, and taking it out on the wrong people. I’d be working myself up into a frenzy to the point where I have a complete meltdown that runs the length of the weekend. I haven’t really got that feeling this time. I can’t even begin to explain how big a deal that is. It’s huge and the thought that I’ve kicked its arse is pretty amazing.
I do want to be there, of course. In a way, I want to be there even more than ever because over the past couple of months I’ve made new friends and made better friends of people who I know will be there tomorrow. People I want to give massive, squidgy hugs to. But it’s OK that I’m not there yet. There are other people who, for various reasons, can’t be there either. I was watching Bondi Rescue late last night and I’d quite happily have let a shark gnaw on my right arm to be swimming in the Bondi surf, but I obviously can’t be there either. That’s alright. These things aren’t the end of the world. In the past, they felt like they were.
My counsellor asked me to think about physical things I could leave around the house, my office, my handbag etc. that would help to reinforce my new ways of thinking. I’ve collected a few positive affirmations and I’ve been saving them in an Evernote folder. I may print some out and put them up somewhere. I said before that the feeling of being left out had shrunk to the size of a tennis ball. It’s there but I can hold it and I’ve got a grip on it. Last night I bought four tennis balls on eBay. I sounds weird, I know, but I’m going to dot them around and literally bounce them about when I need to. I think it might make me feel like I have an actual grip on the thing goading me into stepping backwards. We shall see if that helps.
Hair is just hair, right? We brush it off as a vanity object (pun intended) but it’s actually incredibly important. Think about how devastated people feel when they lose their hair to cancer treatment. Men who don’t cope well with balding. Just how unlike yourself you feel when you have a bad haircut. Even a random bad hair day massively affects our mood.
Over the past few months I’ve really been lusting over my old red hair. Before I became unwell I had red hair. I kept it until about a year into my illness before covering it with dark brown. That first year had been terrifying. I didn’t feel terribly attractive, the maintenance on red hair is fairly high and I was exhausted. I needed a change.
While remarking on how much I missed the red three or four months ago, Andrew suggested I just go for it. But the reason I didn’t feel like I could go back was that it reminded me of that first year of illness and how it had kind of stolen something I loved away from me. It was painful.
My disability may restrict me physically, but what I don’t want to do is give it the power to influence the stuff that makes me feel good. So yesterday, with a little encouragement from some friends, I had my hair cut and then coloured it back to the exact same red it was before. I absolutely love it. It’s like claiming a piece of myself back again.
Sometimes the simplest things have the most incredible impact. My hope now is that the way this course of counselling is changing me is somehow radiating so that people really notice the positive change. I hope I’m a nicer person to be around. I hope that they’re proud of me. Because I don’t say this often, but I am proud of myself.
Just an extra note – I’m considering recording a podcast to summarise everything I’ve learnt from counselling some time over the next few weeks. If I think it works I may occasionally record some more. If this is something you might be interested in, do let me know.