25 months and it’s another door closed.
Which one I hear you ask?
If you have followed our story from when we began, you will have read about my struggle with my mental illnesses diagnosis. After Millie passed away, professionals attempted to tell me I was suffering from “normal grief” – (I’ve never quite understood what that phrase actually meant) it soon became apparent that I was suffering from a lot more than this.
I was assessed properly by a Psychologist in a Manchester hospital and I was diagnosed extremely quickly with severe PTSD, anxiety and depression and I was extremely lucky that I was such a severe case (unlucky in that way of course) that I was able to access treatment within days of being diagnosed on the NHS. I know that I am extremely lucky to have gotten this help so quickly and this is why I am so proud that over the past 2 years I have worked so hard to deal with my illnesses and today I was officially discharged – because this now means that someone else can now be seen, that someone else can be take my place and receive the treatment that I know they will so desperately need. I am led to believe that the current waiting list to access mental health services is around 6 months – this is an extremely long time when your head is a mess with these types of mental health illnesses and I am a huge advocate in that these waiting list times need to be decreased and quickly because I know (not believe, I know) that without access to this service I would not be here today.
This journey has been torturous. I remember quite clearly in my first session that I didn’t want to talk, I cried so much, I cried so hard that I thought my tears were never going to end. Dan had to take me to all my early appointments because I had panic attacks on the way to the hospital because I couldn’t cope seeing or hearing ambulances, blue lights or sirens which meant I couldn’t drive there. I couldn’t cope even being on a hospital premises because of the one specific flashback that I suffered from. I have to had to go through everything over and over again with a fine tooth comb, explain my flashbacks, nightmares, panic attacks, dreams etc in each and every second that they happened. I’ve had to re-live that day over and over again in every single detail that I could remember and believe me, I can remember every single minute detail and every word spoken to me that day – details that I don’t want to remember but that just won’t go away, no matter how hard I try.
You’re probably reading this thinking, that is awful, why did she have to re-live everything all over again and again. Unfortunately this is how the treatment I had works and I can honestly say that it was a horrendous thing to have to go through to get better. I can understand how some people cannot cope with this treatment, how some people give up at just the first hurdle during this treatment. I understand how people refuse the treatment even though it has been suggested that it would be a good option for them. I understand how people do not even entertain the idea of going through this type of treatment. I know that people turn the treatment down as people have written to me telling me that they have turned this type of treatment down for various reasons, asking me for advice on why I said yes to it, asking me if I thought they should request it again. I cannot make this decision for anyone though, only a person in this position can.
The good thing is, is that you are given the option, it was explained to me very throughly the options I had for treatment and that it was completely up to me whether I took the treatment I was offered. I did. I took the option of being treated with CBT and by the use of EMDR. I could have said no.
Why did I say yes?
I said yes because I wanted to get off medication. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life taking drugs because of the depression and anxiety I was suffering from because of my PTSD brought on by losing our precious daughter and the circumstances in which she passed.
I said yes because I wanted to be back in control of myself. I did not want my fears and irrational thoughts to control me or my mind for the rest of my life.
I said yes because I needed the help.
Excepting help when offered is often one of the hardest things to do in life but you often have to realise that accepting help often makes your life easier or better in more ways than one.
I said yes, because I wanted to be me again. Of course I completed understood that I would never be “The Joanne” that I was once, but I knew that I could possibly get back a huge part of her that I felt had gone, had changed.
I changed my name too. I never had a middle name but when Millie passed , around 6 months later I added “Millie” into my name, so I am now officially Joanne Millie Thompson – an ode to my daughter and a sign to myself that I am a new person, a different person that I once was.
I do know the old me is gone.
What we went through losing Millie was the worst possible thing any parent could ever possibly go through, something a parent should never have to go through – but we did and we have survived, we have gotten through the worst and we are on the other side.
That song, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” always comes into my head when I’m writing/talking about this because it is so true.
Today I am stronger than I have ever been before and every day I get just that little bit stronger to get through each passing day.
This letter below is for the Psychologist that has been there through all my treatment and tears. I don’t know whether she will ever read this as that’s not what it is about.
Two years ago I was a broken hearted mum who had recently lost her precious baby and I didn’t know whether I was coming or going or whether I was going to get through the next night or day.
I walked into your office thinking that I didn’t expect your help to work, thinking that I would try this treatment out and then give up and carry on feeling like it felt that first day that I met you .
I came to you and I did not know how to act, what to say, when to cry, when not to cry, when to shout or scream or when or if I should just walk away and give up.
I felt ridiculous that I had all these problems, I thought I was weak for being diagnosed with these mental health problems, I couldn’t understand why I was cracking, why I was breaking down into crumbs in front my own eyes. I hated the fact that I was putting my husband through this – I hated the fact he needed to look after me; but you made me understand, you made me realise that I could get through this.
You made me talk about the things I didn’t want to, I didn’t like you for that. You made me tell you how I was feeling; I’ve always struggled with talking about my feelings but you kept on going, you kept on asking. You listened when I was angry, when I was distraught. You listened as I cried and tore my hair out in your office. You watched my heart break over and over again as I talked about my daughter and the hopes and dreams that I had for her but that I would never see her fulfil. You were there as I closed my eyes and described what I was seeing in my flashbacks and nightmares and you comforted me by telling me you were to help me and one day my illnesses would get easier.
You ripped me to pieces by trailing through my mind in your sessions and on many occasion I walked out of your room thinking how much I thought I hated you that day because of how upset and distraught I had become whilst talking to you. I often came out of these sessions and couldn’t function properly for two or three days – which then felt I didn’t have much time to recover before the next session.
But you kept on asking me back and I kept on coming. You encouraged me to bring my medication down, both anti-depressants and sleeping tablets, you encouraged me to discover mindfulness and to create a world where I could feel safe, where nothing could bother me, where everything is peaceful and tranquil.
As the days turns into weeks and then months and now years, the sessions got harder and more intense but my everyday life started to become a little easier. My sleep slowly started returning, I dealt with my panics attacks in a more responsive manner, my medication came down, my smiles started to return and my hopes and dreams started to slowly linger again.
You talked me through my feelings about possibly having another baby, at which point I told you I didn’t think I could ever have another child again but you got me through it, you helped me realise that I couldn’t change what happened. You helped me realise that we made all the right decisions for Millie that I couldn’t blame myself for what I happened that day – that we weren’t bad parents, that we didn’t allow Millie to pass away, she was just taken from us and there was nothing we could have done as parents to change that.
You helped me to change my mind about having another baby and I thank you so much for that because without you and a special family in New Zealand, Leo probably wouldn’t have been born and he has completely changed our world again.
I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being the kindest, most caring medical professional that I have ever come across. I know that you genuinely wanted to help me, to help us become strong again. I know that what you do is not just a job for you – you have a passion for helping people. I for one am glad that I have met you and that our paths crossed because you have taught me how to be strong again, how to love again and how to live again and I will never forget that.
I hope your family are so proud of what you do.
A mummy that will always have a piece of her jigsaw missing x
If I hadn’t have had my psychologist help, I probably wouldn’t have seen my gorgeous son’s smile x
I know that just because I have been discharged doesn’t mean that it is all over .. This is just the beginning and I know this but I know that I can get through anything life throws at us as we have already proven we can get through the worst thing possible that could ever happen to us.
The Black Dog will always be with me but it doesn’t mean that it will always control me.
To book on a Millie’s Trust course click the link below