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In association with Macmillan, Heart 2 Hart Solutions are now working with secondary breast cancer patients across Wales, offering therapeutic emotional support in a group format. Groups are currently being run on-line and face-to-face where safe, in Cardiff, Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire, with others to follow in North Wales and Powys. This is an exciting project and we are thrilled to be taking part in offering such vital support.

I am also focusing on one-to-one support for those living with medical trauma, and continuing my funding applications for 'Cake & Counsel'.....watch this space!

This year has certainly not started as many of us would have liked! Remote working, lockdown measures in place, the Winter has felt endless.....

I've still been busy. Supporting my secondary breast cancer ladies has continued to be a delight as sadly the charity Breast Cancer Now withdrew support from Wales. It's exciting to announce a new project under the Macmillan umbrella, setting up a new  group therapy service across Wales for those living with secondary breast cancer. The needs of women with metastatic breast cancer in Wales are so different from those in England and communication and collaboration with our fabulous group members has already begun.

In addition, funding options are still being sought for educational group therapy, for those living with chronic health conditions or medical trauma. Watch this space.......!

 And still supporting those with personal trauma via zoom. Planning to return to face-to-face therapy mid April.......fingers crossed!

As the end of this year approaches I'd like to reflect on the challenges we've all faced over the last 9 months, and how many of us have struggled with isolation, not seeing family and friends and lack of structure and routine. My work with those experiencing medical trauma, and those living with a terminal or incurable condition has shown me how marginalised and ignored they feel. Having a voice should be encouraged not frowned upon, and feeling listened to and heard can be enormously empowering. Let's hope that as we say goodbye to 2020 and welcome in 2021 we can eventually return to some kind of normality and continue to make a difference with the exciting prospect of incorporating education and knowledge into new planned projects. Warmest wishes for a Christmas spent with those you love.

Piglet was a wise old soul....
 
'Pooh woke up that morning, and, for reasons that he didn't entirely understand, couldn't stop the tears from coming. He sat there in bed, his little body shaking, and he cried, and cried, and cried.
Amidst his sobs, the phone rang.
It was Piglet.
"Oh Piglet," said Pooh, between sobs, in response to his friend's gentle enquiry as to how he was doing. "I just feel so Sad. So, so, Sad, almost like I might not ever be happy again. And I know that I shouldn't be feeling like this. I know there are so many people who have it worse off than me, and so I really have no right to be crying, with my lovely house, and my lovely garden, and the lovely woods all around me. But oh, Piglet: I am just SO Sad."
Piglet was silent for a while, as Pooh's ragged sobbing filled the space between them. Then, as the sobs turned to gasps, he said, kindly: "You know, it isn't a competition."
"What isn't a competition?" asked a confused sounding Pooh.
"Sadness. Fear. Grief," said Piglet. "It's a mistake we often make, all of us. To think that, because there are people who are worse off than us, that that somehow invalidates how we are feeling. But that simply isn't true. You have as much right to feel unhappy as the next person; and, Pooh - and this is the really important bit - you also have just as much right to get the help that you need."
"Help? What help?" asked Pooh. "I don't need help, Piglet.
"Do I?"
Pooh and Piglet talked for a long time, and Piglet suggested to Pooh some people that he might be able to call to talk to, because when you are feeling Sad, one of the most important things is not to let all of the Sad become trapped inside you, but instead to make sure that you have someone who can help you, who can talk through with you how the Sad is making you feeling, and some of the things that might be able to be done to support you with that.
What's more, Piglet reminded Pooh that this support is there for absolutely everyone, that there isn't a minimum level of Sad that you have to be feeling before you qualify to speak to someone.
Finally, Piglet asked Pooh to open his window and look up at the sky, and Pooh did so.
"You see that sky?" Piglet asked his friend. "Do you see the blues and the golds and that big fluffy cloud that looks like a sheep eating a carrot?"
Pooh looked, and he could indeed see the blues and the golds and the big fluffy cloud that looked like a sheep eating a carrot.
"You and I," continued Piglet, "we are both under that same sky. And so, whenever the Sad comes, I want you to look up at that sky, and know that, however far apart we might be physically...we are also, at the same time, together. Perhaps, more together than we have ever been before."
"Do you think this pandemic will ever end?" asked Pooh in a small voice.
"This too shall pass," confirmed Piglet. "And I promise you, one day, you and I shall once again sit together, close enough totouch...under that blue gold sky."
We all need a piglet in our lives....'

 

I am pleased to be returning to face to face therapy with clients from 20th October at the Cyncoed Consulting Rooms. All covid measures have been put in place and government guidelines adhered to. Government permission has been granted for those who need to leave their area for any physical or mental health needs. Please email for more information on the protocol in place that must be adhered to. I look forward to meeting with you again........

As we continue to emerge from lockdown and are facing new experiences, the psychological impact can be quite frightening for some. Many of us are faced with an increase in our emotional base rate, where our bodies have become  accustomed to a slight raise in anxiety levels, meaning we may be more hyper vigilant or reactive to certain situations. My Clinical Supervisor who I'm collaborating with on my research and knowledge of medical trauma has published an interesting piece on the possibility of medical PTSD or PTS symptoms that could arise in some from their covid hospitalisation. This of course doesn't imply everyone who has been hospitalised through covid would share this experience. But it's worth paying attention to in the context that knowledge is power. Having an understanding of why we may feel a certain way can have a normalising effect, as well as being a helpful coping mechanism.

https://theconversation.com/a-perfect-storm-for-medical-ptsd-isolation-intensive-care-and-the-coronavirus-pandemic-137981

It's been a challenging few months due to covid-19 and the psychological impact this has had on many people may have far reaching consequences as we strive to find some normality in a world that is still far from normal. I am still working via zoom or phone and can help with any anxieties that may affect you. Please reach out and contact me if you feel the need for some emotional support. It can really help.....

A collaboration with my lovely colleague Dr Pippa Mundy for BBC Wales on line: anxiety v covid.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-52680174

Privileged to be offering emotional support to WAST; Welsh ambulance Service Trust and their paramedics, ambulance drivers, and office workers, together with Frontline19, offering emotional support to all health care professionals.

The word ‘normal’ for many of us signifies ‘usual’, ‘natural’, ‘routine.’ Yet the world we are  currently living in feels anything but normal to many of us. In struggling to retain any semblance of normality we have been forced to enter into this new existence of COVID-19, home-schooling and working, self-isolation, social distancing  on the one hand and compulsory interaction with family on the other,  exercising in front of screens whilst  communicating through them. Is it any wonder with little control over our lives many of us report feeling overwhelmed by a sense of heightened anxiety, hyper vigilance, fear and loss of meaning?

In the world of trauma, an emotional response to a distressing event in our lives that causes us to no longer feel safe in our environment, covid-19 ticks all the boxes. We know it’s a virus that currently has no vaccine, is highly contagious and can lead to death. These facts alone may invoke  fear, uncertainty and anxiety. So  surely, it’s completely ‘normal’ to feel disconnected from reality?

Research tells us that psychological overwhelm and anxiety towards a real or perceived danger causes our threat system (or as I call it, tricky brain), to automatically respond as it was ecologically primed to do. Individual responses are  subjective  and   how we respond is dependent  on our personal resources, resilience and historical stressors.

If we logically look at what’s happening it can be reassuring to understand that this temporary new ‘normal’ isn’t based on the memory of an event that happened in the past, triggered by  something in the present. Instead it’s a natural response to life’s events.

  • Our patterns of behaviour, social connections and freedom of choice have been changed.
  • In many cases sources of income have been withdrawn.
  • We’re exposed to actual danger - especially our frontline workers.
  • Those with additional medical needs may feel ignored/isolated
  • Our basic physiological needs may not be met; food, shelter, sleep etc.

Taking all this into account it’s understandable our tricky brain will respond, alerting our threat system, causing anxiety and stressful symptoms to take over.

So how can we help ourselves stay well to help prevent future mental health issues developing?  

  • Creating balance is very important to our physiology. Positive distraction is beneficial and the opposite of avoidance. Avoidance maintains our anxiety, but creating a distraction – however briefly - allows our tricky brain to recognise a lowering of anxiety meaning we can function more logically and rationally.
  • Grounding (describing our environment/an object, counting etc) will bring us back to the present day if one feels disconnected from others or reality.
  • Exercise, pet interaction, baking, journalising, art, puzzles, games, connecting through social media links, phone conversations, visualisation, imagery, sensory perception & re-living nostalgic memories.
  • Understanding what’s happening to us physiologically and psychologically from a reputable source that isn’t based on speculation or catastrophising. Limiting our amount of news coverage to bite sized chunks and interspersing it with positive distraction.
  • Communication; maintaining contact as much as possible with loved ones, friends, neighbours, colleagues and sharing our fears, can help dilute our anxieties.
  • Acknowledging the thoughts and feelings we have with curiosity, no matter how challenging can help to lessen their intensity. Paying attention to them and understanding their origin can be helpful in creating a balanced state of mind.
  • Being compassionate and kind to ourselves as well as others gives us a sense of purpose and makes us feel good.

There’s no doubt that going forward another ‘normal’ will take the place of this one and some of us may seek professional help to try and make sense of our world and re-set our buttons.  And some may not. It’s important to understand we can’t control what happens with the corona virus or  the economy, but we can control how we respond to it. As Plato said…..“There are two things a person should never be angry at: What they can help, and what they cannot”

Research from:

The Body Remembers & The Body Remembers Volume 2; Babette Rothschild

Maslow’s theory of self actualisation

BACP Registered - Heart 2 Hart - Professional counselling and talking therapy service in Wales

Heart 2 Hart Solutions Ltd.

Practising from:

Cyncoed Medical Centre,
Dartington Drive,
Pontprennau,
Cardiff.
CF23 8SQ

Tel: 07903 457245

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Counselling and Emotional Support | In a one-to-one setting | In a group environment | For patients & healthcare professionals